First Drive

2022 Acura NSX Type S Track Drive | One lap of Daytona

Sampling the most hardcore NSX yet at the “World Center of Racing”

2022 Acura NSX Type S
2022 Acura NSX Type S / Image Credit: Acura
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  • Trim
    Type S
  • Engine
    3.5L Twin-Turbo V6 + 3 electric motors
  • Power
    600 HP / 492 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    9-Speed DCT
  • 0-60 Time
    Under 3.0 Seconds
  • Top Speed
    191 MPH
  • Drivetrain
  • Engine Placement
  • Seating
  • Cargo
    4.4 Cu-Ft
  • Base Price
  • As Tested Price
  • Smart Buy Savings
    $3,183.00 - $3,183.00

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Stadium lights shine their bright white glow on the tarmac as I power out of the infield and up to the banking of NASCAR 1 at Daytona International Speedway in the 2022 Acura NSX Type S. The force of gravity quickly changes from normal to feeling like I’m being shoved down by a compactor. I gingerly arc down from the top of Daytona’s steep 31-degree incline and settle into the middle, right pedal down and holding the wheel steady. That last part, I quickly learn, is unnecessary, as the banking holds the car in place without needing to exert much steering force.

An immersive and sonorous note trumpets through the cabin as I stay in the throttle out of NASCAR 2. The Bus Stop Chicane (just renamed the Le Mans Chicane for this year’s Rolex 24) arrives quickly and with little warning when you have 600 horsepower hustling you there, and it’s perhaps the worst-lit corner on the track — ironic, considering you’re going as fast as anywhere at Daytona before having to apply the brakes. A loud, brap, brap, brap accompanies the slowdown. I smash over the rumble strips while exiting the chicane, and head back onto the oval for another go in the compactor for NASCAR 3 and 4.

And then that's it, my one flying lap in the one-year-only NSX Type S is over. Rolling back into pit lane, I’m attempting to process what just happened, but am reduced to one-word exclamations from the adrenaline rush. Piloting anything on-track at the Daytona road course at night is a bucket list, dream-come-true moment for a racing enthusiast, and I had just done it in Acura’s mid-engine supercar. Turns out, those hundreds of hours playing Gran Turismo and dreaming finally came in handy.

This brief and high-speed track drive is our first go at the new-for-2022 NSX Type S. Acura says that more seat time is coming in the future, but we’re to make do with this quick taste for the time being. That said, even if you wanted to at this point, the chances of buying a new NSX Type S are next to zero. The NSX swan song — yes, this is the NSX’s last model year — sold out in mere minutes, and all that’s left is a waiting list. Acura is building 350 total, and 300 are allocated for the United States. There will be no “standard” NSXs for 2022 either, so it’s either the $171,495 Type S or nothing.

Despite the rarity and short life, it's surprising how much effort Acura put into enhancing the NSX's complex engine and three-motor hybrid system. The standard car's 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 is upgraded with turbochargers yanked directly from the GT3 Evo racecar. To supplement that, it also gets new fuel injectors with a 25% higher flow rate and new intercoolers with 15% more heat dissipation capability. The engine is now contributing 520 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque to forward motion, increases of 20 and 37, respectively.

Acura then upgraded the NSX “Twin Motor Unit” that powers the front wheels by lowering the gear ratio from 10.38:1 to 8.05:1. This effectively gives the car more torque directly off the line, which means even harder launches than before. Those electric motors yank the car through and out of Daytona’s Horseshoe with the secure and reassuring show of visceral force we’re used to from the NSX. The battery powering these motors is also upgraded with a 10% greater output and 20% higher usable capacity. Due to this drive’s nature, I didn’t get a chance to test out the Type S’ improved battery-only hybrid operation, but the upgrades should lead to less engine use in the efficient “Quiet” mode.

Total system output is now rated at 600 horsepower and 492 pound-feet of torque, and even in just one lap, the difference in forward thrust is perceptible. I don’t expect a drastic change in acceleration times (Acura only specified "under 3.0 seconds" despite the standard NSX being estimated at 2.9 seconds), but putting your foot down leaves little doubt that the Type S charges harder from corner-to-corner than the regular NSX does.

Another key upgrade made for the Type S concerns the transmission. The nine-speed dual-clutch automatic is re-tuned, and it engages the clutch 50% faster upon paddle press. This means a more instantaneous response and snappier reflexes to your paddle prodding. In addition to quicker gear changes, the Type S gains a new “Rapid Downshift” mode that automatically drops you into the lowest-possible gear when you hold the downshift paddle down. New programming also quickens downshifts in automatic mode when you apply brake pressure — say, when you’re coming in hot on the curved entry to turn 1 — and the rev threshold for pulling manual downshifts is increased by 1,500 rpm, letting you pull quicker downshifts that zing the needle higher up the tachometer.

Most noticeable out on track is how smart the transmission sets itself up for every situation in automatic mode. It bangs off shifts with what sounds like an extra bit of violence in the form of staccato pops. This in-cabin volume increase is the most obvious new experience in the Type S from the get-go, too. A lack of emotion and drama from the V6 was one of the standard NSX’s most common complaints. It’s not mended with a new exhaust, but Acura says it’s re-done the car's “Intake Sound Control” (basically funnels real noise into the cabin) and “Active Sound Control” (artificially creates and/or enhances noises inside the cabin). Anyone who’s driven a regular NSX will notice the more audible intake wailing and extra volume inside the cabin both on-throttle and with every shift.

Last up in the realm of upgrades for the NSX’s powertrain is a re-tuned SH-AWD system that takes advantage of the front motors’ and engine’s additional thrust and power. Of course, this all-wheel-drive system is so closely tied with the NSX’s handling capabilities that you can’t talk about one without the other. The Type S is truly a whole-car job, so of course Acura’s engineers went to work on the suspension, wheels/tires, drive mode tuning and more.

Unfortunately, the limited track time made it impossible to come to any grand conclusions about the improvements. That said, the breadth of the changes leads me to believe that we’re going to experience a noted difference in road behavior once we drive one outside the racetrack.

For the time being, know that the Type S gets recalibrated dampers with a greater range of stiffness depending on the mode. That means it’s still designed to be comfortable in the on-road modes, but is stiffer than before in Track Mode. New forged alloy wheels are set with more negative offset that in turn widens the front track by 0.4 inch and the rear track by 0.8 inch. The wheels are then wrapped in a Pirelli P-Zero summer performance tire made exclusively for the Type S that wasn’t previously available on the standard NSX. Acura claims the track increases and new tires allow for 6% more lateral grip. To quantify that and the extra power, Acura says the NSX Type S is 2 seconds quicker around the Suzuka Circuit in Japan.

There’s one main performance package available, the $13,000 Lightweight Package fitted to our track car that drops the curb weight by 57.8 pounds from an unannounced figure. The 2021 standard NSX tipped the scales at 3,878 pounds. Much of those savings (and the hefty price) comes from the carbon ceramic brakes, but the Lightweight Package also gives you a carbon fiber engine cover and carbon accents on the steering wheel and instrument cluster hood. All of the other carbon fiber optional extras on the regular NSX come standard on the Type S, most important of those being the carbon roof that reduces the center of gravity. The Type S-exclusive Gotham Gray Matte paint (pictured above) adds another $6,000.

The new Type S front end ensures that everybody knows this NSX is different from the rest, and its new design is functionally better than before. Acura says the more angular intakes, front spoiler and larger diffuser do a better job at minimizing lift and making the Type S more stable at high speed. Airflow to the intercoolers is also enhanced, ensuring proper cooling of the more powerful engine.

Of course, the one lap at Daytona does not even come close to testing the heat capacity of this car. It does, however, provide convincing evidence that this NSX Type S is truly the best performing NSX in every way while still remaining true to its purpose of being an everyday supercar. Navigating pit exit just inches from the Wall of Champions is an objectively stressful situation, but the NSX's expansive forward visibility makes it easier. Daytona’s walls on the infield loom in the darkness at track-level, but the NSX makes driving a stupid-quick car at this big track remarkably easy with its essentially fool-proof all-wheel-drive system. It’s the most point-and-shoot supercar in the game, and it’s going to make 350 people grin from ear-to-ear once they get behind the wheel. 

Related video:

Acura NSX Information

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