Acura hit the market hard when it introduced the Integra, Legend, and first-generation NSX. The late 1980s and the 1990s represented a time when Acura was about little more than producing performance cars that looked good and felt comfortable. By the time the 2000s hit, however, the company fell into a funk that, at one time, could have pushed the company to the brink of destruction. Now, at just 34 years old, the Acura brand is looking to its roots for guidance as it looks forward. We’re here to tell you that it’s a very good thing, and the company is already several steps into its new master plan.

Acura Isn’t a Just A Luxury Extension of Honda Anymore

1991 - 2005 Acura NSX
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Honda NSX

We’re really not sure what happened. After the Integra, Legend, and first-gen NSX, Acura kind of fell off. From the 2000s forward, Acura served up a what was, essentially, a bunch of badge-engineered vehicles that were 96-percent Honda with a little bit of extra luxury. The brand got lost trying to serve itself as a luxury brand just as much as a performance brand, and it just wasn’t working. Even it’s performance vehicle for the era, the Acura RSX, was little more than a glorified Civic with a little extra power. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t on par with what Acura originally stood for.

In an interview with Motor 1, Acura’s Brand Officier, Jon Ikeda, explained it perfectly:

”I think we had some growing pains with a little bit of wandering. In your 20s, you do some crazy things.”
2019 Acura RDX Exterior
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Fast forward to the late 2010s, though, and Acura has started to reinvent itself. This is clearly evident in looking at the 2019 Acura RDX and the new 2021 Acura TLX,both of which have little to do with Honda thanks to brand-specific platforms and bespoke Acura powerplants or worked-over flagship Honda engines. Needless to say, the old Acura is back, but what happens now?

Acura isn’t looking to make the same mistakes it one made. 50-percent of those that buy the new Acura RDX, for example, are new to the Acura brand. They have seen something they liked, and they jumped on it. That went a long way toward instilling the brand with the confidence that it has now, the confidence that led to the new 2021 TLX. And, the company now realizes that it needs to focus on performance over luxury, which is exactly what it’s doing now and will continue to do in the future:

The Future of Acura Relies Heavily On Its Past, And That's a Very Good Thing Exterior
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”We’ve doubled down now with [the 2021] TLX, and obviously we’ll continue to go forward with the MDX and other cars that follow. We are a performance brand first and foremost – we haven’t talked about luxury in quite a while now. We’re getting that feeling of fun and optimism coming back into our performance image.”

So what are these “other cars”? Well, the company is going to focus on providing thorough updates to its current nameplates, so don’t expect any all-new models anytime soon. Growth is important, but growing too fast can be dangerous. The biggest thing to come out of the old-new mantra is the return of the Type S badge, which is being relaunched with the TLX Type S. And, performance-oriented it will be, thanks to Acura’s turbocharged V-6 that should be good for something like 350 horsepower and around 380 pound-feet of torque. Official numbers aren’t out yet, but that’s what you can probably expect. Ikeda even confirmed that the engine would be spread across the range, with other Type S models likely benefiting from its credentials:

”We’ve committed to this engine, and it’s not just going to be in one car. Type S is back, and we should have performance variants of all of our cars. with this engine and this car and what’s coming in the future, we can just ground the brand.”
The Future of Acura Relies Heavily On Its Past, And That's a Very Good Thing Exterior
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These words from Ikeda make it more clear than ever that Acura is looking back at what made it successful, and it’s going the extra mile to make the brand what it was originally meant to be. You can probably expect Acura to make a big step forward in terms of its hold on the performance market, and it’s about damn time.

Source: Motor1

Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topsped.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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