When you have a top speed of 191 mph you’re not expected to be late, but in the case of the new Acura NXS the idiom “better late than never” certainly applies. Why the delay? Acura wanted the car to be right, and that simply took longer than expected – and it was worth the wait.
According to lead designer Michelle Christensen the powerplant was changed halfway through the development process, which in turn required a redesign of the exterior.
Christensen, a graduate of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, is the first woman to lead a design team in Acura’s history. While still a student at the College, Christensen began working on a groundbreaking design that caught the attention of Acura recruiters.
A San Jose native, she learned about the mechanics of cars from her father, who was into hot rods and muscle cars. “Growing up, my interests ranged from sketching prom dresses for friends to wanting to work in a pit crew for a racing team,” Christensen told Marie Claire in 2010. “In junior high I learned about exterior car design; it was the perfect melding of my interests in design, cars, and working with my hands.”
The unusual powertrain of the new NSX, and a midstream switch to a midmounted engine, opened new possibilities for the design team to give the car a more muscular profile. ”It gave us the opportunity to punch more holes in it and make it more exotic,” Christensen told Automotive News. “From a styling standpoint, we were really excited to take it to the gym and beef it up.”
In the episode of Jay Leno’s Garage – above – Christensen dives into great detail with Jay regarding the design challenges of this exciting new NSX. Take a few minutes and check it out. ■