Mid-Engine Showdown: Acura NSX vs 2020 C8 Corvette
When the new radically redesigned C8 Corvette debuted last week, the initial consensus was that Chevy had introduced a groundbreaking mid-engine supercar that happens to carry a very un-supercar like price. While the comparisons toward European-badged exotics makes sense, the C8 isn’t the only “affordable” mid-engine performance car from a mainstream brand.
The other car is the Acura NSX, which like the original NSX of the early ‘90s is a less expensive, Japanese take on the mid-engine supercar—albeit one that’s much more tech-laden than the high-revving, naturally aspirated original.
While there are some significant differences between the C8 Corvette and the NSX, the cars are similar enough in mission and overall form that a preview comparison between the two seems in order.
Size & Weight
Both the Acura NSX and the C8 Corvette share a mid engine layout and an overall look befitting a modern supercar—but how close are they in terms of their size and weight? When it comes to dimensions, the C8's overall length is about six inches longer than the NSX and it rides on a wheelbase that's nearly four inches longer.
So while the Corvette will be a little larger than the Acura, the more important comparison is weight. Final curb weight for the C8 hasn't been announced but it's estimated to be around 3,600 pounds, while the NSX comes in heavier at just under 3,900 pounds.
Engine & Horsepower
The largest difference between the two cars is how they make their power. The Corvette Stingray will of course use a naturally aspirated LT2 V8 that makes 495hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. The NSX meanwhile goes in a completely different direction with its 3.5L twin turbocharged V6 and hybrid system.
The high tech Acura makes 573hp, for a 78hp advantage over the Stingray, and 476 lb-ft of torque, for a slim six lb-ft advantage. But with the C8's weight savings of a couple hundred pounds, these advantages are likely to be mitigated.
Contrary to the wishes of some traditionalists, neither the C8 Corvette nor the NSX are available with a manual transmission. The Corvette uses an all-new eight-speed dual clutch automatic while the NSX uses a dual clutch automatic with nine forward gears.
The big difference between the two is that the NSX's hybrid system includes a pair of electric motors that drive the front wheels directly, making it AWD. The C8 meanwhile has a more traditional rear-drive layout.
The full performance capabilities of the C8 have yet to be tested, but there's no reason it shouldn't continue with the incredible performance all modern Corvettes are known for. In fact, during the car's reveal Chevy claimed the C8 will be capable of doing 0-60 in less than three seconds.
The NSX, with electric torque boost and AWD traction is also a capable performer with various tests showing 0-60 times of about three seconds flat. We'll have to wait to see how the two compare around a track, but one would guess the C8's lighter weight may give it an edge around most circuits.
It's this category where the two cars stand far apart and also where the NSX starts to lose some major ground. Chevy says the 2020 Corvette Stingray will start at less than $60,000 when it goes on sale, while the 2019 NSX has a starting MSRP some $100,000 richer at $159,000 and change.
It should be said that there are known to be significant discounts available on the NSX and that a "properly-equipped" Corvette Stingray will likely be at least $70,000, but the Corvette still offers a massive amount of value when compared to the NSX.
The Wow Factor?
Right now all of the attention and excitement is directed toward the all-new Corvette, but there's no doubt the NSX will prove to be the rarer, more exclusive car, if only because of its much higher price tag and lower sales figures.
Of course, neither car will have the "prestige" of a Ferrari, McLaren or Lamborghini, but whether it's the NSX or the Corvette, both of these cars are about delivering the experience and performance of those high-end machines for a fraction of their price.
Needless to say, all comparisons between these two cars will remain speculative until they actually go head to head, but based on what we know, the coming of the C8 Corvette doesn’t seem like good news for the NSX.
Even before the launch of the C8, the NSX was already struggling to keep interest going, and now with a cheaper but no less capable mid-engine rival on its way to the market, it will be interesting what (if anything) Acura plans to do about this.