Can a new Acura NSX super car resurrect Honda’s premium brand?
Things are seemingly looking up these days if you’re in the business of selling Acuras. After a few years in the wilderness with a muddled product strategy and confusing styling, its parents at Japan’s Honda are looking to relaunch the brand with a raft of new cars and new technological flagship sports car.
As you may recall, arriving in 1986, years ahead of its future rivals Lexus and Infiniti, Acura was the first “premium” or luxury brand from Japan. With cars like the Integra coupe and Legend sedan, it quickly became a money-maker for parent Honda and popular with buyers who liked the idea of owning a BMW or Mercedes-Benz, but didn’t want to pay the Euro-premium pricing, deal with snooty dealers, or spend too much time at said snooty dealers waiting for their cars to be fixed.
But, then, for some reason, after establishing one of the most loyal group of customers in the biz with bullet-proof and well-engineered-yet-conservatively-stylized cars, Acura tried to go all BMW-like by replacing its well-established nameplates with an ubiquitous alphanumeric system, then with a series of aggressively styled cars, high- (low?) lighted by the Advanced Sports Car concept that debuted at the 2007 Detroit (above).
That concept—with a front-mounted 5.0-litre V10—represented not only Honda’s then involvement with Formula One racing, but also a successor to the Acura NSX super car, a midengine V6 sports car that was killed two years previously after a 15-year run. Unfortunately, Honda never followed through with a production version of the concept GT, or its sister big sedan. Instead, it merely grafted onto its existing Acuras the concept's Knights of the Roundtable shield-like grille.
Acuras recent lack of a cohesive product strategy and incongruous styling has seen its market share drop. But it looks like Honda's ready to fight back. Figuratively, next month’s Detroit show is going to be a coming out party for the “new” Acura, with the unveiling of a new “NSX replacement”, the second-generation 2013 RDX compact crossover, and the return of a Civic-based Acura, also to go on sale in 2012.
As previewed in an Accord test mule I drove a few weeks back in Japan, the Acura super car concept will introduce a slew of new high-tech goodies, including a new direct-injected V6-electric hybrid system, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and a new Electric Super Handling-All Wheel Drive system.
Honda’s says the upcoming Detroit sports car concept "represents the styling direction for the next generation of Acura's super sports car." Based on a sneak preview at a dealer’s meeting in Las Vegas right after the Tokyo show, Car and Driver magazine is saying the new NSX will retian its midmounted engine and look a lot like the car Acura supplied for Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man character in the yet-to-be-released Avengers flick.
Of more immediate and relevant interest, Acura will also debut the new 2013 ILX compact sedan. Similar in concept to the former Canadian-only compact Acura CSX, the ILX will be an up market version of he just-released 2012 Honda Civic. Next up in Detroit will be the second-generation Acura RDX , which is rumoured to be dropping its four-cylinder for a V6.
While both of these models will go on sale in 2012, the Acura super car is still about three years away from production.
We’ll have to wait until Detroit to check out Acura’s new styling direction. But now that you know all of this, do you think Acura new products will return it to its former glory?
Or has there been too much damage done to the brand already?
Source: Honda, Car and Driver