Ahh, the NSX, the pinnacle of Honda and Acura road car performance. An icon from the early 90's still alive and kicking today. But by today's standards, a little light on the power lifting, isn't it?
We put our 2004 Imola Orange NSX on the Dynojet rollers at DynoLab in Marietta, GA to see just how much power the venerable 3.2 liter, 90 degree, DOHC VTEC V6 could put to the ground. With only 1200 miles or so on the odometer, we wondered if the engine was broken in yet. We'd seen other NSXs put down some serious power on other dynos (of various types) and wondered what ours would do. Surprisingly, it put down almost exactly the power it should have if you believe in consistent losses and accurately rated flywheel hp. In this case, 245 hp and 195.4 lbs-ft of torque. These numbers were backed up on several follow up passes to within 1%, even when we tested in 5th gear instead of 4th gear.
So why do we say the results were surprising? Well, simply put, we've seen earlier 3.0 liter NSXs put down nearly as much hp, and other 3.2 liter examples put down over 260 whp. Did we get a weak model? Was it still in need of more mileage to loosen it up (maybe we should have tested it after our weeklong romp)? We're not sure. Certainly it didn't hurt our dragstrip performance, as our only run was a 13.0@106 mph, and we're sure we would have gone faster still with more chances at the tree. But given that our car was a 12-second car, we feel quite comfortable with some of those magazine times in the 12's with trap speeds in the 110 mph range - amazing when you consider the age of the platform and the engine (and it isn't that light anymore either).
Looking at the torque curve, note the broad swath available at nearly any rpm. From 3000 to 7200 rpm over 90% of peak torque is available. Even down around 2000 rpm over 85% of peak torque is still being produced. This is a tremendously flexible engine, one that has no trouble slotting in with today's performance engines (Porsche's 3.4 liter and 3.6 liter watercooled flat-6's come to mind as the nearest competitors - check out this link). And when combined with the close ratio gearbox, it scoots in any gear, even from very low rpms. This makes the car very easy to drive in any situation, from heavy traffic, to the dragstrip and everywhere in between. Oh, and be sure to check out the videos. While the low bandwidth clips don't begin to approach the sheer sonic joy of that sweet engine sucking huge gulps of air over your left shoulder, they'll still send chills up your spine. Simply amazing that a 13 year old car can still do that to you.