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The latest prototype of the 2011 Acura NSX has finally hit the Nürburgring and it's looking — and sounding — better than ever. Unlike the previous prototypes — which were nothing more than cobbled-together test mules built from the S2000 platform — this NSX has bodywork that looks close to production specification.
Although the design of the original concept didn't get favorable reviews, it appears as though Acura has stuck with similar styling for the production car. Instead of going for an all-out sports car, Acura is aiming for high-end GTs instead. Think Aston Martin DB9, not Nissan GT-R. As a result, Acura has abandoned its former midengine concept and adopted a traditional front-engine 2+2 layout. The company is after prestige, not just speed.
That said, the 2011 Acura NSX is still expected to offer supercar performance. According to our sources in Japan, Takeo Fukui, Honda's CEO, has tasked his R&D team with building an NSX that's faster around the Nürburgring than both the 2009 Nissan GT-R and the upcoming Lexus LF-A.
Sounds optimistic, but according to our shooters Honda is already close to its goal. One hand timed lap came in at 7:37, just 8 seconds longer than the GT-R's fastest lap. Not bad considering that this was Honda's first trip to the Nürburgring with this prototype.
Credit the NSX's formidable new power plant, a 5.5-liter V10 with as much as 550 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. The engine is a slightly larger version of the V8 that Honda will use for the next-generation rear-wheel-drive RL sedan, and it will use cylinder deactivation under light loads for maximum efficiency. Additional efficiency gains will come from the use of an eight-speed automatic transmission that will feature shift paddles on the steering wheel.
Getting all this power to the ground will be a challenge in a front-engine car, so the new NSX will employ a modified version of Honda's Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system. Packaging could be tight, however, with the big V10 up front. A combination of steel and aluminum will be used for the chassis that will form the basis for what looks like a relatively small car.
We have reports of NSX mules being tested in the U.S. alongside the Aston Martin DB9, Mercedes-Benz SL550 and the Porsche 911 Turbo, so this should tell you about the kind of car the NSX will become. There's still time for changes, though, as the 2011 Acura NSX isn't expected to go on sale until late 2010. Who knows what Nissan and Lexus will have on the road by then, but from the sound of it, Honda is making sure that the NSX won't be lagging behind.