My favorite racing event of the year is just around the corner; I am talking about this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb dubbed the 2016 “Race to the Clouds”. I can’t wait to see various sport cars navigate the Peak Mountain’s 156 challenging corners. At the Peak Mountain, it is common to see highly tuned conventional-powered models a cough uncontrollably due to the thin air in the area. However, of recent, the advent of electric engines has given rise to an electric class dubbed the”Electric Modified Class “. Unlike conventional powered models, EVs are not affected by the thin air. Although only a few models are competing in this class, 4 to be specific, it will be fascinating to see the four models battle it out for top honors.
For this year, Acura has gone all out to conquer the event. After winning the 2015 Challenge Exhibition Class, the automaker is bringing a new model based on the NSX supercar powered by an advanced drive-train featuring their experimental 4-motor Super Handling AWD (SH-AWD) drive-train. Two NSX hybrid variants will also compete in the Time Attack Class.
2016 Acura NSX EV Concept Exterior
It is amazing how the automaker’s R&D department has transformed the elegant looks of the NSX supercar to this wild-looking small electric monster. In addition, the model will compete in the Electric Modified Class which is less strict on production specs, unlike the Time Attack class which its hybrid NSX’s models will compete in.
The 2016 Acura NSX EV Concept features a larger grille which doesn’t feature a mesh to enable improved cooling. The headlights still feature a chrome trim between them just like the NSX supercar. The lights feature a carbon-fiber cover which covers all LED lights except two lights on each side. Its hood features two huge vents to enable more cooling. However, the most captivating feature of the front fascia is the gigantic splitter that stretches a few inches ahead of the model’s muzzle.
The sides are also highly modified. New features on the flanks include new side windows, altered side skirts and a larger rear fender intake. You will also notice that the model doesn’t have any side mirrors as they are deemed useless for this racing event and thus removed to reduce a coefficient of drag.
At the rear, the concept features bigger air vents, revised taillights and a race-customized diffuser. The rear bumper has been thrown away which leaves the power-train exposed. The rear is finished with a huge rear wing. The concept rides on Michelin performance tires.
2016 Acura NSX EV Concept Interior
The cabin is still a mystery at this point. However, going by last year’s model, I expect the model to be fully customized for racing. This means all unnecessary components have been thrown out to make the model very light.
Expect race-spec bucket seats instead of the standard seats in the street NSX supercar. A roll cage is a must to protect the driver in case the vehicle veers off the road and rolls down the mountain. The dash will also be minimalistic with only the necessary equipment.
Drive-train and performance
Under the hood, the automaker has ditched the conventional engine for an upgraded electric drive-train. The automaker has used an upgraded 4-motor Super Handling AWD drive-train which the automaker continues to experiment on.
The drive-train is the first in the industry to offer 4-wheel independent torque allocation. The automaker has tweaked the model for an improved thrust at each wheel meaning it will be more capable than ever. Acura remained mum when asked about its output figures only saying the model will produce over three times total system output produced by the last year’s electric prototype. This means the model will exceed 1,000 horses.
The drive-train is still experimental but it is based on the SH-AWD drive-train that currently powers the MDX, RLX and the street-version of NSX supercar. The system features highly regeneration capability and responsive acceleration.
Once the automaker finalizes with the drive-train, it will greatly help advance torque vectoring of road cars.
Sadly, the 2016 Acura NSX EV Concept doesn’t preview a production model. Though the automaker might bring a production model in future, they are only concentrating with the current lineup of supercars. This model was specifically built to compete at this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The model will be driven by Tetsuya Yamano, a Japanese Super GT champion.
Though the class has only 4 entrants, competition will be very stiff. Last year’s winner Rhys Millen will be looking to make it two straight wins with his Drive eO PP03. Nobuhiro Tajima will also be gunning for the first position with the Tajima Rimac E-Runner Concept One which spits out 1,500 horses and 1,100 lb-ft of torque.