Monday, March 28, 2016

Acura Celebrates 30 Years of Modern Performance Luxury

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

On March 27th 1986, premium motoring received a major shake-up in North America. During a time when luxury was still seen as a big, heavily vehicle with an eight-cylinder engine, the gaining momentum of import vehicles would impact the way upscale automobiles you be viewed in the United States and Canada. The first of three Japanese auto brands who have successfully launched a luxury car brand, Honda introduced Acura to the world 30 years ago.

Originally classified as "Channel II" by Honda in initial planning during 1984,   In creating the Acura brand, Honda reacted to a projection of growth in the luxury car market. The dedicated luxury car marque presented the ideal opportunity to promote even more aggressive vehicles and technologies in North America. Launching with roughly 60 dealers, Acura's model line-up consisted by the 3-door and 5-door Integra as well as a V-6 powered sedan called the Legend. Both promoting a blend of performance and luxury personalities, the Acura Integra and Legend boasted sophisticated driving dynamics. The original Acura line-up featured sophisticated aerodynamic tailoring, impressive four-valve, fuel-injected engine power and driver-oriented interiors. In its first year, Acura sold 52,869 vehicles and advertised 150 dealers in the United States. In 1987, Acura production pushed across 109,000 cars while the Integra and Legend (which added a coupe body style) was lauded by the North American press.

Since the 1986 introduction of Acura, the luxury make has gained a lasting reputation. The company  As the brand entered the 1990s, Already proving to be strong in the sales department, the Acura gained a sensationally desirable vehicle that had not been seen by auto enthusiast eyes. The Acura NSX debuted in 1991 as the first production car to be built on an all-aluminum chassis and body. Channelling inspiration from a F-16 fighter jet, the Acura NSX was the mid-engined, two-passenger supercar that proved the extent of the luxury performance brand's sizzle. The 3.0-liter V-6 engine of the 1991 NSX would also be the first Honda product to feature their VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control engine technology that allowed bullish performance at low and high RPMs. The Acura Integra's engine would gain a 1.7-liter VTEC engine in 1992. Sales of a fourth model, the Vigor also started in 1992. By 1994, the 1,000,000th Acura would be sold in the United States. Over the course of the late 1990s, Acura would eliminate vehicle names in favour of alphabetic naming. The Legend became the RL in 1996, the Vigor was replaced by the TL and the Integra survived until 2001 before the introduction of the RSX,

Photo Credit: American Honda Motor Company

The first Japanese-based luxury car maker to sell vehicles in North America, Acura would also be a pioneer in the way they deliver their products to showrooms starting in the late 1990s. Originally completely built in Japan and imported with Acura badging, the cars of the luxury brand would eventually lead to production jobs in the United States and Canada. In early 1996, the Acura CL coupe's construction at Honda's East Liberty, Ohio facility would allow the premium car division to claim the distinction of being the first international luxury car to be built in the United States. Production of Acura vehicles in Canada started at roughly the same time in Alliston, Ontario. From 1996 to 2013, the EL, CSX, MDX and ZDX were built by Canadian labour from the Honda of Canada Manufacturing plants. Marking 20 years of production in the United States, Acura has sourced more than 98 percent of their vehicles from North America.

Having first endeavoured into the luxury sport utility vehicle starting in 1995 with a badge-engineered Isuzu Trooper called the SLX (Only sold in the United States with less than positive fanfare), Acura proceeded in their own attempt in the emerging and lucrative premium sport utility vehicle market. The Acura MDX was born in 2001 as a seven-passenger mid-sized vehicle co-developed with the Honda Pilot. Proving to be a popular vehicle, Acura would later reinforce their line-up with a smaller crossover called the RDX. There was also a period between 2010 and 2013 where Acura sold the ambitiously styled ZDX that the brand described as a four-door sport coupe. The daring design won both praise and criticism but remains captivating to this day.

Flickr presentation of Acuras over the years captured by my camera 

While the compact premium car market was left neglected by Acura in the 1990s and 2000s, Canada gained special attention from the luxury division. Based on the Honda Civic, the Acura EL and later CSX served as a well-equipped small sedans constructed in Alliston, Ontario. The Canadian-exclusive compact Acuras remained until the arrival of the ILX.

In recent years, some could make a case to say Acura lacked the essence of performance in their premium line-up with the absence of a two-door sports car. The Acura RSX was a desirable sport coupe that roamed through the mid-2000s. Discontinued in 2006, the RSX was the brand's last two-door car until just recently.

For late spring of this year, Acura's 30th birthday will feature some considerable force to blow out candles. A new generation Acura NSX returns as with Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. Set to start at $189,900 Canadian, the 2017 Acura NSX has triggered a 1.2-million US dollar payment for the first example sold at the Barrett-Jackson auction for charity.

Along with introducing the long-awaited 2017 Acura NSX, the luxury car builder debuted a new version of their MDX crossover vehicle. Displaying a profoundly different look for the brand heading forward with a restyled grille, the 2017 Acura MDX's introduction at the New York International Auto Show also comes with a Sport Hybrid edition.

Acura, a new derived from the word "acu" translating from latin to mean mechanically precise or done with precision (according to corporate history), has produced over 4.2 million vehicles for the North America market.

In honour of Acura's 30th year, I wish to share a few Youtube videos of the brand's vehicles:

Acura NSX Concept at 2013 CIAS

Acura TLX Prototype at 2014 CIAS

Acura TLX GT Race Car at 204 Motorexpo Toronto

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