You know the auto industry is on a roll when you see not one, but two new supercars debut on the same day. Acura and Ford rocked Detroit with two stunning new models. These aren’t dream cars either, they are going into production, albeit in limited numbers. Most interesting is that we are not looking at the same old formula, but these cars are showcasing the latest innovations in lightweight materials, turbocharging, and hybrid drive.
The Chicago Auto Show was where the world first saw the concept that preceded the original Acura NSX in 1989. Production began in 1990 and the Acura NSX developed a cult following around the world as the first supercar to employ an all-aluminum body. It drew stunning performance out of a V6 engine. The NSX carried on in a couple of iterations until 2005. Replacing the NSX was delayed by the economy, but the announcement of a next generation NSX came with a new concept in 2012. This year we see the production version, and Acura will begin taking orders this summer. The NSX will be built at a new production facility in Marysville, Ohio.
Like the original, the new NSX is a two-seat mid-engine sports car. In the spirit of its predecessor, it uses ideas of a V6 engine and extensive use of aluminum, but takes it to the next level. Remember when hybrids were economy cars? Well, the lightning-quick response of an electric motor has found its way into performance cars. The NSX uses a three-motor hybrid system. One is in between the twin-turbocharged dual overhead cam V6 and the nine-speed dual-clutch transmission for extra power and responsiveness available to the rear wheels. The other two electric motors power the front wheels for all-wheel drive and extra power for acceleration. This sophisticated setup comes from Acura’s experience with their Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, which uses torque vectoring, powering the wheels at different speeds to improve cornering performance. “At this time I don’t think there are words that can describe the NSX, but I’m sure after the car hits the streets a whole new set of words will emerge,” said Glenn Muller, owner of Muller Acura of Merrillville
While the NSX was long awaited, Ford managed to keep the new GT under wraps until the unveiling. Entering production late next year, the Ford GT will honor the 50th anniversary of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place victories of the Ford GT40 racecars at the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1966. Fans of the brand will also remember there was a new Ford GT that came out in 2005 also as a tribute to the GT40. The new Ford GT captures the proportions recalling the original in an ultra-modern interpretation. “Ford really surprised everybody by bringing the GT out without anybody knowing about,” said Pete Blagojevic, general manager at Art Hill Ford in Merrillville. “The design is absolutely beautiful.”
Looking at the specifications, it might surprise you there is not a huge V8 engine lurking under that sexy shell. Indeed, it’s a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 producing more than 600 horsepower. It is the next generation of Ford’s EcoBoost technology, which builds on getting more power out of a smaller displacement, more efficient engine. It also became important in terms of packaging, since a physically larger engine would not fit in the mid-mounted location.
Aluminum subframes, carbon fiber structural elements and body panels, as well the use of other advanced composite materials shave weight and are very strong. Cutting-edge aerodynamics in both the design and in active components reduce drag and improve handling. Even though the GT will primarily be a halo car for Ford, you can see the evolution of technology they have been working on, and experimentation with new ideas that may influence future products. In light of that 50th anniversary approaching, Ford officials are mum on whether some of that testing will be done in a return to racing at LeMans.