The Future Of Acura With Jon Ikeda
After languishing as a kind of Honda-plus product for several years, Acura reinvests in performance and luxury, standing out from the corporate cousins wearing an “H” logo. To learn more, check out the 2019 Acura TLX 2021 or 2019 Acura RDX, which both run on brand-specific platforms and are fitted with custom-made Acura engines – the 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 from the TLX Type S – or flagship Honda engines.
With avant-garde design, turbulent performances and an advertising campaign that revives the brand’s old mantra “Precision designed performance”, Acura is a brand in motion. No one knows this better than longtime fanboy (and current brand manager) Jon Ikeda.
“The future of Acura is sort of the past of Acura, a little return to the future that is happening here,” says Ikeda. “In the 1980s, we came up with a unique performance-based vehicle and brand; that’s our goal. “
However, Ikeda is not afraid of Acura’s recent history. After stepping out of the door with the Integra, Legend and the first generation NSX, the brand fell into a sort of middle management discomfort, producing things like bland RL and first generation Odyssey-in- MDX drag. Nice cars, of course, but nothing particularly exciting
“I think we had growing pains with a little wandering,” says Ikeda. “In your twenties, you do crazy things. But once you’re in your thirties, you know a little bit about who you are, so we refocused ourselves as the performance image of Honda. “The executive cites the history of the company with racing – almost dating back to the birth of the Acura brand – and halo models like the aforementioned NSX and the compact sports darling Integra Type R.” Step by step, we let’s head to where we should be. “
This introspection of the brand led to his return to racing with the NSX GT3 and ARX-05 prototypes making their debuts (in 2017 and 2018, respectively) in endurance and sports car racing around the world. It also allowed the return of the NSX supercar for 2017, a model that we have driven – and loved – on several occasions. And the aforementioned RDX conquers 50% sales, which means that half of its buyers are new to the Acura brand.
“It gave us a lot of confidence for what we were doing.” Said Ikeda. “We have doubled now with [the 2021] TLX, and obviously we will continue to move forward with the MDX and the other cars that follow. “
Among these “other cars” will be faster and more exciting variants of existing nameplates.
“We are above all a performance brand – we have not been talking about luxury for a long time,” says Ikeda. In fact, Acura no longer uses luxury in its main messaging, recalling the first two years of the brand’s existence, when the word was not found in any official marketing. “The word L”, as Ikeda says, is not the goal of Acura. “We find this feeling of pleasure and optimism in our performance image.”
The Type S family
Part of this excitement will be the return of the Type S family. The TLX Type S 2021 is at the head of the pack, which has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 with double volute, a 10-speed automatic transmission Performance-optimized reports and standard Super Handling all-wheel drive technology. Although official figures are yet to be released, we anticipate 350 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of the TLX.
“We are committed to this engine, and it will not be just in one car,” said Ikeda. “Type S is back, and we should have performance variants of all of our cars. A-Spec was a quick game for us “- referring to the sporty set that doesn’t necessarily add grip or speed -” but with this engine and this car and what’s going to happen in the future, we can just anchor the brand. “
Anyway, we couldn’t ask Ikeda to officially confirm what was going to happen to Type S, but we can expect that soon. The company has already committed to producing two performance variants by 2021, which means the next model should be revealed before the end of the year. It’s also unclear whether the next Type S will be an existing Acura product or something to reveal, but the smart money is that a completely redesigned MDX is on its way to 2021, with a 3.0-liter turbo six in optional and that legendary red Acura badge.
On the horizon
The RLX will be discontinued after the 2020 model year, creating space in the company’s line of cars between the sporty TLX Type S and the flagship NSX. This led us to speculate that the brand could include other four-door sedans in its range above or below the TLX. Although Ikeda wouldn’t bend over the details, he acknowledged that if the brand were to come out with “a bigger sedan or a smaller car”, it would be designed primarily for performance (including a Type S variant) .
Ikeda’s history with Acura dates back to 1989, including successes such as the launch of the RL 1996 and the design of the company’s most popular product, the TL from 2004 to 2008. As such, Ikeda is particularly well placed to talk about the future of Acura, and he does it in style.
“We want to do cool stuff in a fun way,” he says. “I really believe that we can succeed, and one of the most important things for us is:” Hey, you have to be yourself. “”