By on January 9, 2012

Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth. Click here for a complete gallery of photos.

Before I get into the details of Acura’s press conference at the NAIAS, as the Acura presser was unfolding I couldn’t help but compare the affect at Honda’s luxury brand to the mood at Lexus. Both Honda and Toyota have had to dea; with supply chain and production disruptions caused first by the Tsunami that struck northern Japan and then complicated by large scale flooding in Thailand. More to the point, both companies were introducing new sports cars at the Detroit show. Acura announced the revival of the NSX model name and Lexus showed a sleak concept sports car called the LF-LC. Both cars are intended to change the image of their companies, but the sense that I got at Acura was “we’ve made exciting cars before and we’re going to get our mojo back”, while the vibe at Lexus was “See? We really don’t make boring cars”.

Acura used the NAIAS to introduce three new models that executives says will be the first stages of a two year process that will result in a complete makeover for the Acura lineup, a revival of Acura if you will. The goal of that makeover is a 40% increase in sales to 180,000 units in 2012, driven by what Acura says is their threefold mission statement: Value, sustainability and “time is luxury”, Acura’s characterization of aids that ease the driving task.

First to be revealed is a new generation RDX. A more conventionally styled SUV than the previous RDX, it gets a 33 HP bump in power, and will be available in both FWD and AWD versions. They expect the FWD RDX to get 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Acura says that it’s banking on quality and roominess to distinguish the RDX from competitors. They claim best in class interior space, space that’s more easily accessible because of a rear hatch that is 6 inches wider than the previous RDX. The RDX will feature a suite of tech features including text to speech. The new RDX will go on sale in early spring of this year.

Joining the RDX will be a completely new luxury compact sedan based on the Civic called the ILX. Acura describes it as a sporty compact. The ILX will be the first model in a new sedan hierarchy, intended to rationalize Acura’s sedan lineup based on vehicle size. Pricing will be “well below $30K. Three drivetrains will be offered in the ILX, a 2 liter engine with an automatic transmission (number of gear ratios in that transmission was not mentioned), a 2.4 L engine driving the car through a conventional six speed transmission, and Acura’s first hybrid, which will feature a smaller 1.5L engine and a CVT.

Finally, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito came out to introduce a new NSX. Ito’s role at the press conference was no coincidence, as he had headed the team that designed the original NSX.

“Like the first NSX, we will again express high performance through engineering efficiency. In this new era, even as we focus on the fun-to-drive spirit of the NSX, I think a supercar must respond positively to environmental responsibilities.”

Ito said that the new NSX will be a “worthy successor” to Honda/Acura’s first supercar and that it will have “advanced” technology and be fun to drive. Many of the rumors about Acura’s new sports car had said that the company would give the new NSX a front engine layout but Ito said that the new NSX, like the original, would have a V6 engine mounted amidships. With a nod towards Acura’s stated core value of sustainability, the NSX will be a hybrid. It will also be driven by all four wheels, with a version of Acura’s Super Handling All Wheel Drive.

The Honda CEO said the goal was to create a vehicle that allows the driver to be one with the car, to use technology in a way that it doesn’t get in the face of the driver, but rather eases the driver’s task. He also said that the car will have racing performance levels and that there’s the possibility that we may see the new NSX race. That’s a good sign for Honda. Racing was one way how Honda got its mojo in the first place proved its engineering prowess in the early days. The NSX will be on sale within 3 years and will be sold globally.

He didn’t say it was due to the tsunami but Ito announced, to applause, that the new NSX would be built in the USA, at one of Honda’s Ohio plants, and it will also be developed at Honda’s US R&D center. Perhaps even more importantly, Ito explicitly said that the US will be “the global hub of the Acura brand”.

While a NSX would always be welcome news to car enthusiasts, the word about the US becoming the global hub of Acura seems to me to be an even more significant piece of news. Some of the Japanese automakers have been making noises about locating operations out of Japan due to the value of the yen. Honda’s decision to design and build the NSX in the United States, and make the US into Acura’s global hub may be the first concrete indication that noise wasn’t entirely a bluff. While Honda is the least Japan-centric of the big 3 Japanese car companies, I’m sure that Mr. Ito’s comments will get some attention in Tokyo.

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42 Comments on “Acura Announces New NSX, US Will Be Brand’s Global Hub...”

  • avatar

    “the goal was to create a vehicle that allows the driver to be one with the car, to use technology in a way that it doesn’t get in the face of the driver, but rather eases the driver’s task.”

    Honda. Now the Apple of the car world. (Though how does that also go with value?)

  • avatar

    伊藤さん、ありがとう. Acura from its inception has been a luxo-channel for Honda and with the over inflation of the Yen, and a newly found history of the US being a major buyer of product, makes complete sense to concentrate on making the USDM a hub for the brand.

    The fact that the neo-NSX is set be built IN OHIO proves that the Japanese automakers are ready to invest again in the US, despite a weak dollar and lower profit margins compared to even ten years ago. Chew on THAT UAW.


    • 0 avatar

      Just saying, wouldn’t the Japanese want to invest in the US *because* of and not despite the weak dollar? All those strong yen buy comparatively more wimpy dollars making capitol investment in the US cheap.

      • 0 avatar

        My point exactly. Same reason Mercedes/Toyota/Nissan/VW/Hyundai are doing the same. The only real diffrence is that Honda has had a much stronger presence in the US for decades, and existing facilities.

        They seem to be capitalizing on this, whereas the others mentioned need to build factories, find dependable labor and line up suppliers, etc.

        As i’ve said before, the whole Tsunami/nuclear holocaust thing probably didn’t help matters ‘at home’ either. In Ohio, Alabama, Indiana, etc. you only really have to worry about winters, and spring/summer tornados and possibly minor flooding. And ok, maybe hurricanes in Alabama’s case.

  • avatar

    Please make NSX as reliable as an Accord.

  • avatar

    Let’s hope it doesn’t go through a set of tires in 3000 miles like the original did.

  • avatar

    Why is there a drawer behing the rear plate?

  • avatar

    I don’t give a crap about the new NSX, nor did I give a crap about the old one. I’d rather Honda/Acura focus on making the rest of the car line not suck. They’ve already got the volume and they’ve still got a few shreds of their enthusiast credibility, they don’t need a halo car like this.

    Honestly, I kinda like the ILX. There’s a few weird details, and its certainly not original or groundbreaking, but it’s not exactly unattractive, either. The engine/transmission options are pretty disappointing…it sounds like the more affordable 2.0 is automatic-only and the 2.4/six speed will likely be overpriced compared to a Civic Si.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the ILX is beautiful. I’ll definitely take the 6-speed 2.4 for a spin next year. :)

      • 0 avatar

        I’m really impressed with the ILX just based on looks. With the 6MT and 2.4L from the Civic Si, this could be a brilliant car, particularly if you can get it for $27k with a nice interior. Certainly bringing the fight to the Lexus CT, IMO, especially since you have a hybrid and non-hybrid option.

  • avatar

    wouldn’t the Acura brand kinda have to be a US thing? The cars we got here as Acuras were sold as Hondas everywhere else. Just like Lexus, it started here. Lexus is now marketed as Lexus all over the world, but Acura is Acura in (according to wikipedia) Hong Kong, Mexico, and China.

    I think you’ll see a lot of people complain about the NSX not being the NSX that used to exist. Honda understands, like Toyota (as the series of interviews with Toyota personnel here on TTAC showed) that the automotive landscape will need to radically change to survive in the face of resource limits. So they’re seeing a need and filling it.

    A Honda badge on the hood almost always meant that the engine under there was remarkable in some way. that I think is what people are so hoping will come back. if Honda can resurrect their leadership in combustion engine technology and pair it with hybrid drivetrains, then their future will once again be bright. because while Toyota seems to have nailed the hybrid, nothing they produce with it can be thought of as remotely exciting. so if that’s what they’re doing with the NSX, then I welcome it. especially if that kind of stuff leaks back down into the rest of their product, as with NSX v1.0.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah was going to point this out as well. Seems like empty rhetoric mostly, this US hub thing. It has always been that way from the get go, much like Lexus (still struggling quite badly here in Europe) and Infiniti (brand was launched here officially about 2 years ago and so far failing quite badly).

      Ah well, at least it’s a good thing Honda is trying to build some more exciting products again as they should do. Everytime they try to out-Toyoda Toyoda with blandmobiles it doesn’t work out for them so hopefully they finally stop trying.

      • 0 avatar

        Of the big, established markets, the US seems the one furthest from going full enviro; as in eschewing any vehicle with a focus on anything other than “environmental responsibility” or whatnot.

        That may be a good reason for focusing luxury/performance/supercar development here, as well. It’s not easy to get good performance out of engineers convinced that what they asked to develop is the spawn of Satan or Multinational Corporations or Bush or something else baaad and eeeevil.

    • 0 avatar

      The cars we got here as Acuras were sold as Hondas everywhere else.

      That hasn’t been true for awhile. While it began that way, a lot of the Acura lineup is now unique to Acura, carrying North American-oriented vehicles that share platforms with North American Hondas.

      The TSX was an exception. But now its replacement will be based upon the North American Civic, which is a similar approach taken with the TL sharing a platform with the North American Accord. The wheelbase and width of the current Civic sedan is slightly smaller than that of the TSX, but whether the Civic’s platform dimensions greatly constrain what can be done with the ILX, I don’t.

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    Until proven otherwise, I’ll be optimistic and hope that the “Civic-based” ILX represents a revival of the Civic-based Integra/RSX.

    With AWD, a hybrid system, and a (IIRC) paddle-shifted manual, though, the NSX seems to have lost track of the original’s “driver enjoyment over numbers” mission, and the essence of what Acura used to be about. Which weakens said hope for the ILX.

  • avatar

    As much as the ILX’s styling turned me off at first (too much like a Dodge Avenger), now I’m starting to get optimistic. Are we finally seeing the revival of the Acura Integra that i’ve been waiting for so long for? Make an ILX coupe and then ask me that question…

  • avatar

    GM, please design the Corvette to look as good as the NSX; it can be done.

    • 0 avatar

      GM, please make the Corvette design revolutionary, not evolutionary! The Corvette does not age gracefully, and the proof can be seen by how much attention an old NSX gets, even when parked next to a new C6 ZR1. I’d love love love to see a roadgoing ‘Vette with more styling cues from the 2012 Corvette Daytona Prototype.

  • avatar

    Anyone know what the ILX suspension setup will be? I won’t consider it a proper Acura without a wishbones/multilink setup. Otherwise it really is just an expensive Civic.

    • 0 avatar

      Unless you’re racing (particularly on poorly maintained secondary roads) the thing, what’s wrong with struts? And even then, if struts are good enough for the Cayman, how much more do you really want out of a 4 door sport/luxury sedan? (if you want the two door, for any kind of driving where struts are limiting you, get the darned FR-S, which probably still has struts, but at least is less compromised in other ways.)

      I hope Honda will find a way to extend the rev ceiling, gaining an additional 20 hp on top, on the 2.4, vis-a-vis the Si. And make a wagon, now the TSX is seemingly going away in favor of a three size strategy.

  • avatar

    ILX looks alright in an Audi-ish way. I just hope it’s a RSX/Integra replacement that slots below the TSX and not a TSX replacement.

    That NSX looks sharp, figuratively and literally. That pleb plow can’t possible pass regulation and stay that way. But honestly, that’s one instance the new Acura beak actually doesn’t look too bad. Wonder how much the car will be…

    • 0 avatar

      TSX is as good as dead due to the next generation Accord being a global model, and not USDM then everyone else (i.e., two Accords).

      A shame really, TSX is a VERY good car.

  • avatar

    Joining the RDX will be a completely new luxury compact sedan based on the Civic called the ILX.

    So this is basically the next version of the EL/CSX that’s been sold in Canada for the last fifteen years?

  • avatar

    Hybrid NSX? Nooooooo!

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Beautiful design, except for the Acura Dork-O-Matic front end.

    Get rid of that front end (and incarcerate the designer).

  • avatar

    Since the Acura brand only exists in North America, I guess making the US the “hub” for this re-badge operation is not really a surprise. The rest of the world has always known the NSX as a Honda, the TSX as the Euro Accord and the RL as the Honda Legend.

  • avatar

    A hybrid NSX… Presumably no manual. Well, I couldn’t afford it anyway, but at least I won’t pine for one.

    The ILX looks very interesting.

  • avatar

    My dealer just told me the ILX will replace the CSX and the TSX. Higher end ILX will cross into low end TL territory. hmm…

  • avatar

    Further Americanizing Acura is both good and bad… the Japanese tend to view Americana as being cool, so in a way it can inject some spirit into the Honda JDM. On the downside, the selling point of any Honda/Acura was it’s Japaneseness….

    The ILX is stepping in the right direction, and is where the market is going. To my at least, it seems that the number of young people in the early years of their careers that drive is dwindling because of the the economy and general on-going erosion in standard of living. At the same time, it frees up the TSX/TL space to move up a bit to capture the higher end of the market. Not completely happy with the execution of the ILX, but it looks right for the segment, and seems like it is a car that will look even better in the flesh than in pictures.

    Say what you will about the beak, I’m just glad that they didn’t change it to the dumb-dumb gaping mouth breather faux grill ala Audi and so many others. If you want to make a car look like it’s cutting through the air, the first step is to make it not look like it’s gasping for it.

  • avatar

    NSX: No. What was exceptional about the original was the understated styling. It was all polish and no nonsense—I always do a double-take when one goes by because it’s almost a stealth supercar. This new thing is busy, overwrought, like the coachwork guys just couldn’t stop doodling. Nonfunctional body creases, crazy vanes, and that ruinously bad “grill.” Study the grill for a moment—everything there seems to be trying to “compliment” and emphasize the awful buck-toothed Acura grill motif, but it just ends up being a mess. I can’t understand why Acura couldn’t manage pleasing proportions in a car this expensive. SOMEONE at Acura can draw—the ILX has nice proportions in a middle-range-sedan kind of way.

    I loved my 05 RSX, which had very clean (arguably bland) lines. Then came the bling grill, and I avoided the dealership for years until the new TSX Wagon appeared with the buck-toothed grill toned down a lot. (I bought one.)

  • avatar

    The problem is that this NSX looks like a generic supercar. When you come late to the party, you need to come with something special and there is nothing unusual about the shape. Even the hybrid power train has already been done.

    The last thing to world needs is another uber expensive, utterly impractical super car. With all the things they could have done, this car reflects a lack of imagination

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    When are these politically-correct idiot companies going to learn that hybrid systems add WEIGHT, which is the ENEMY of driving enjoyment? Stop with the eco-weenie nonsense!

  • avatar

    Maybe the car looks more distinctive in person than it does in the pics. Does anyone think this car will sell for the south side of $100,000? Does anyone think the car will have enough luggage space for my wife to pack more than a swimsuit??? And does anyone think this car will change the perception of Honda if the manufacturer continues to produce some of the most boring designs in the industry??? Honda/Acura needs a bold design concept together with good execution on a car that really matters. This car is not really all that relevant unless it is going to come to market costing $60,000 and has enough luggage space for a couple to pack enough for a weekend getaway.

    • 0 avatar

      “Does anyone think the car will have enough luggage space for my wife to pack more than a swimsuit???”

      My favorite car moment was stumbling across a Murcielago with Wisconsin plates…. in Vancouver. If you remember Dumb and Dumber with the Diablo, you would have found that funny as well.

  • avatar

    What was the pricing difference between original NSX & Ferrari 348? Anyone?

  • avatar

    I can understand this car as a “halo” vehicle designed to remind the car purchasing public of happier days at Honda and trying to change current perceptions of car maker. But Honda could have consulted recent history which suggests this probably won’t work. Does anyone think that the LFA has changed public perception of Toyota??? I think not.

    The NSX was an exciting, technologically advanced car for its time, but it was hardly the ONLY such car in the lineup at Honda at that time.

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