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Where is Honda taking Acura?

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  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Unless Honda (and Acura) adopts the old formula of adding displacement in its performance car, while getting as many horses as possible, we are not going to see low end grunt (relatively speaking) associated with them. The same will be true with ASC if Acura chooses to go with 4.0-liters instead of using 5.0-liters for the V10.

    As far as high performance engines go, Acura has had its fair share of high revving engines, although limited to Integra (GS-R and Type-R) and RSX Type-S. And speaking of Prelude’s high revver, the engine in TSX is simply an evolution of that engine with good mid range (for the displacement), peak power arriving at the same engine speed, and red line in low 7000’s. Interestingly enough, NSX’s C32 (and C30 before it) had similar characteristics except that, with help from short stroke, it redlined at 8000 rpm.

    Look, if a Halo car is going to be successful, it must have something in common with the rest of the line. Something more than a badge… The original NSX did this with VTEC. The best choice for Acura right now is SH-AWD.

    I do not agree. The top car in the lineup should represent the brand and its core values. The focus should not be localized to a single feature offered by the brand. It doesn’t have to be like the rest of the cars, to be successful or not, and we have seen that with S2000. We see that in case of Viper. How about Corvette? Lexus?

    In fact, Lexus serves as a great example. The brand has been associated (rightfully) with the philosophy of pampering and isolating everybody inside the cabin. What do you think Lexus LS represents that also translates to the success of ES and RX?

    It is also a reason I think RL disappoints many. When you get in virtually any Honda or Acura, you expect a well balanced car, one that handles well and doesn’t compromise ride quality for it. This is true for all cars. I won’t say that about RL. Sure it can out-handle virtually all cushy drivers while being one, but it is still a soft car.

    No matter how much people associate Infiniti M as being harsh/stiff compared to say Lexus GS (people don’t expect that) or Acura RL (what do we expect from this car? Is it Honda-ness or Lexus-ness?), Infiniti is being consistent with its approach, starting with the lowest model in the lineup and all the way to the top. Wait, Q45 also suffers a lot, perhaps because it has a confused personality.

    A lot of people admire Honda (includes me) for reasons well beyond a feature or two. I cheer for Honda while watching F1 or IRL (don't need that anymore in IRL with a guaranteed Honda engine win which actually sucks :P), but that has nothing to do with whether those cars use technologies directly found in my Honda/Acura vehicles. How much is common between a Ford Taurus on a NASCAR circuit and the one that was being manufactured?

    Mainstream cars’ success depends on their own merit. People weren’t buying Neon or Caravan because they had a feature also used in Viper.

    NSX didn’t represent VTEC. It represented:
    - Hondas success in F1 racing and Honda's heritage in general (racing)
    - Honda emphasis on making a super car that, unlike others, was reliable, and comfortable
    - An engineering billboard to demonstrate the capabilities of a company, expected from a company that we see as being run by engineers

    And as a result, Honda caught attention of the world including mine (I almost got an NSX myself). I did not buy Accord (a Prelude and a Civic after that) because it had VTEC like NSX did. It was mere coincidence that it did and at the same time, it was nothing like the VTEC in NSX.

    If focus on a feature helps, RL shouldn’t need a premature redesign to boost sales with launch of ASC. But I don’t think it will work.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Audi R8! While the rest of the Audi lineup which is FF based, R8 is a car people can directly relate to Audi’s participation at Le Mans. Emphasis on shared features (FSI, V8, or Quattro) is secondary. It should make people talk about Audi as a brand.

    Acura is at Le Mans too, and not in GT1 class. LMP2s are powered by mid-mounted V8 engines. I would have loved to see NSX revival with its own V8. Then it won’t be a stretch to call it street legal version of the LMP2, to add to it also representing street legal version of Formula 1 racing that has always been associated with it. Doing so would have helped expand an idea that was born over twenty years ago.

    And a V8 would have probably helped the rest of the lineup more than a V10 would, something that even has a potential of being shared with lesser Acura vehicles. Now, if ASC were to pave the way for a V10 powered, SH-AWD driven Acura RL at reasonable prices, I won’t complain. Until then.

    There is another thing about ASC presentation I didn't like. To illustrate my point, a few years ago, GM showcased its Hywire concept and Honda had its FCX. Hywire had technology that could be appreciated, but more focus seemed to be on styling etc. FCX, OTOH, was purely about technology and readiness to be commercially viable and it ended up as that. Styling upgrades are finally due in 2008.

    As an admirer of an engineering oriented company, I appreciated that approach. Based on the NSX (hi)story, emphasis on styling was limited to the inspiration (which is said to be the F16 jet). But emphasis on performance orientation and goals were well defined.

    It is 2007 now, and we see an incomplete concept focused on styling that “might” be able to take a V10 under the hood. Have things changed so drastically at Honda?
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Yeah, I can see your point about the Accord Coupe. But even if we can pull one or two examples of moderately torquey engines, they aren't what the company is known for.

    Honestly, a good part of "Honda's" reputation for high-strung performance has little to do with Honda products here in the US. Many of them are sold only overseas and one of the most visible examples in our market (Integra Type R) was badged as an Acura.

    In the case of the Acura, the enthusiast crowd knows that Honda and Acura are the same under the badge. So, even though the 'teg wore an Acura badge, it still helped Honda's image.

    Good for Honda, but not so good for Acura.

    That link to Honda created other problems. I don't think it's news to anyone that Acura has been trying to distance themselves from Honda products. Dumping the Integra name and finally removing the car from the lineup were both moves in that direction. The TSX is another revver, but even that one is rumored to be getting a Turbo and SH-AWD.

    So, when I see Acura considering a V10 AWD supercar, I see potential. Using AWD and lots of cylinders is not Honda's thing. So, this car is different than a typical performance Honda; achieving product separation. Furthermore, because the ASC showcases SH-AWD, it features DNA unique to Acura. I think those are good things.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Let us draw a mainstream comparison.
    Accord 3.0/V6: 211 lb-ft
    Camry 3.5/V6: 246 lb-ft
    Conclusion: Accord lacks the low end grunt.

    Let us extend it to a potential fast car comparison.
    ASC 4.5/V10: 350 lb-ft
    Corvette 7.0/V8: 470 lb-ft

    Conclusion: ASC lacks the low end grunt.

    The issue, no matter how trivial, isn’t going away. It is simply being taken to another level based on increased horsepower which is expected to be 500 HP or so.

    As far as SH-AWD and Acura DNA is concerned, to a common person, is it really that different from Quattro or X-Drive or anything that Subaru or Nissan offer? Unless that common person is a techie, and unless SH-AWD manages to keep its unique aspects just that, I just don’t see why the entire focus needs to boil down to that single aspect.

    Now let us look at options (if I were running Honda, I would):

    NSX
    Chassis: Mid mounted, RWD
    Engine: 4.0 or 4.5-liter V8, 450 HP/300-350 lb-ft

    ASC
    Chassis: Front mounted, AWD
    Engine: 4.5 or 5.0-liter V10, 500-550 HP/350-375 lb-ft

    With NSX, I could have set a sub-3400 lb curb weight goal. With ASC, IMO, it will be a miracle (or very expensive) to target sub-3600 lb.

    With NSX, a rear weight bias is virtually guaranteed and that can help in a lot of “driver oriented” performance areas. With ASC, I’m almost prepared to hear a slight front weight bias although Acura might try to work around it (and compromise a few things along the way).

    So, while ASC has something that lesser Acura vehicles might be able to brag about, NSX could have had something that could have been used in lesser vehicles too and that is the V8. An AWD system can be an option, an engine never is. My priority goes to the engine.

    Now, even if both cars were to be priced at $75K, which would you prefer?
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Didn't see your post when I wrote that last one. But I see I anticipated a number of the points you made.

    Since I know you like to post formulas (I've appreciated a number of them), I'm going to condense this a bit.

    10 cylinder > # of liters

    Super car + Core values = Nice

    Super car + Core values + Common technologies = Better

    Your example about Lexus and the LS, RX, and ES proves my point. They all share tangible DNA, which the owners may experience first hand.

    Racing = brand image

    Halo cars = product image

    I do not dispute the fact that the NSX caught many people's attention. But the only car it helped to sell was the Integra, which was the lowest priced, least prestigious car on the lot. Why? Because it shared nothing with the other cars in the line.

    I'm sorta done with going in circles on this one.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    I'm with you on the V8 vs V10 thing. Acura should be building one of those for their regular products before getting into exotics again.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    Good for Honda, but not so good for Acura.

    varmint, can you state that another way so others (like me) can understand your point?
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "Now, even if both cars were to be priced at $75K, which would you prefer?"

    I can't believe you think that's important! This is not about you and me. This is about building a product line for a company that sells cars to make money!

    And, by the way, the ASC looks to be mid-engined car. Just like the S2000. They ain't gonna cram a V10 ahead of the front axle.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Sorry. I've been going back and forth with Robert so often, I'm starting to paraphrase extensively.

    One of the things achieved by the NSX was the promotion of VTEC performance. The NSX proved that Honda's racing technology worked, even at the level of exotic cars.

    The fact that VTEC (and the whole high-revving driving experience) was shared between both Honda and Acura added to the marketing impact of those little VTEC badges. If VTEC had been made exclusive to Acura cars, then the Hondas would not have benefited very much from the NSX. With 2 brands putting VTEC cars on the road, it doubled the marketing impact.

    So, it was good for Honda that they got to share the halo effect from the NSX. That's the good news.

    The bad news is that Acura (a premium brand) was now linked directly with Honda (non-premium). You could get Acura's best technology at the Honda store. In the years following the NSX, Acura became known for the VTEC Integra. The Integra had the most in common with the NSX in terms of driving experience and technology. The RL and Vigor/TL were different kinds of cars. So the NSX didn't really benefit them. Acura's best-seller became the budget car on the lot which was most often compared with Toyota's and Nissan's instead of premium cars.

    Nowadays, many people look down on Acura and claim that Acura cars and just "gussied-up Hondas". That is, in part, a result of that link they established back when they began sharing Halo car technology across the Acura/Honda divide.

    Now, I don't mean to suggest that the NSX is completely to blame for all of Acura's woes. Obviously, Acura had plenty of other troubles. But I think that if Acura introduces a new super car, it should include important, salient technology that is not shared with Honda products.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    If common features are necessary, than V8 + SH-AWD make more sense than just SH-AWD, unless V10 from ASC is also shared by others in the lineup. SH-AWD could definitely be demonstrated in NSX too! But it won’t be something I would like to see, for weight and efficiency reasons as they apply to sports cars.

    As far as Lexus is concerned, I am not seeing how it proves your point. The commonality between all Lexus vehicles is that they are staid, isolating and comfortable movers. It’s something we have come to expect from Toyota. Mark Levinson in ES350 isn’t a nice system because it is also in LS.

    But the only car it helped to sell was the Integra, which was the lowest priced, least prestigious car on the lot. Why? Because it shared nothing with the other cars in the line.

    I don’t know how you arrived at that conclusion. Realistically speaking, I expect the cheapest cars in any lineup with broadest appeal to sell better than others. Interestingly enough, let us look at sales numbers from Acura lineup:
    1989:
    NSX – N/A
    Legend – 64.6K
    Integra – 77.4K

    1990:
    NSX – 1,119
    Legend – 53.6K
    Integra – 83.6K

    1991:
    NSX – 1,940
    Vigor – 11.3K
    Legend – 65.7K
    Integra – 64.8K

    1992:
    NSX – 1,154
    Vigor – 13.8K
    Legend – 49.9K
    Integra – 55.2K

    I didn’t know Legend actually outsold the Integra in 1991 and the sales were fairly close in 1992. How do you think NSX impacted sales of Legend and Integra? Integra was selling just as well before NSX arrived.

    If Acura were to launch ASC now, I just don’t see RL getting an automatic boost in sales. Shared features between a halo car and lesser versions can go only as far as seeing that Odyssey chasing a Honda Formula 1 car on a race track. The vehicles eventually sell on their own merits. It is establishing a brand image that Acura needs to worry about right now.

    I'm with you on the V8 vs V10 thing. Acura should be building one of those for their regular products before getting into exotics again.

    No. Perception is key, especially important for Acura. How many times do you see someone say that Accord is based on RL platform? It is always the other way around and usually to put the Acura down. It doesn't matter if Honda actually designed the platform to be used on RL/Legend first and detuned for lesser cars. What matters (clearly) is when the respective vehicles were produced.

    To avoid that, top-to-bottom approach is needed. V8 or V10 need to be showcased at their best with detuned version showing up later in lesser models.

    And, by the way, the ASC looks to be mid-engined car. Just like the S2000. They ain't gonna cram a V10 ahead of the front axle

    Front-mid would be more like it, but my concern comes from the fact that unlike S2000, ASC is using an AWD system which will add some weight up front. Front-mid doesn’t guarantee a 50-50 weight distribution (or slightly rear biased 48-52 as in S2000). We see that in Infiniti G35, and even Corvette.

    Speaking of AWD, I was actually very excited to read about the system in 2001 Honda Dual Note concept and perhaps the immediate predecessor to SH-AWD (the original predecessor dates back to 1991 Honda FS-X concept). And it was a mid-engined sport sedan! I wouldn't have complained about it weighing 4000 lb. But for a sports car, I would have skipped the AWD system.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Speaking of VTEC, it is virtually unavoidable to differentiate Honda and Acura in that regard because they will both continue to use a variation of the same (i-VTEC now, and may be A-VTEC in the future). Unless, Acura devises a technology of its own that isn't handed down to Honda.

    That said, I don't THAT sharing as an issue at all. Toyota isn't limiting VVTi to Toyota OR Lexus. FSI can be found in Audi as well as VW. So, no reason to make VTEC or i-VTEC or A-VTEC exclusive to either Acura or Honda.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    that i followed, except can't the very same be said of:
    toyota, scion and lexus
    nissan and infinity

    and dare i:
    volkswagen and porsche

    and probably others?

    for example, when i see lexus vehicles on the road, they look like toyotas to me, and it seems they both suffer from their use of similar DBW throttle control strategies and parts.
  • autoboy16autoboy16 Posts: 992
    Umm... Wasn't Honda's ATTS the predsessor to SH-AWD? I remember reading that thats where the idea for SH-AWD came from.

    -Cj
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Prelude was the first production car to get ATTS, but the system also featured in the AWD system of 1991 Honda FSX concept. The AWD system in FSX was a conceptual predecessor to SH-AWD. FSX was powered by a 280 HP 3.5-liter V6.

    After Prelude was gone, the first signs of Honda's plan to revive ATTS came with 2001 Honda Dualnote hybrid concept. In this case, hybrid power was fundamental to the AWD system, and ATTS was mounted upfront to distribute torque (but unlike RL where the outside wheel can get upto 100% of the power, instead of sending all of the power from inside wheel to the outside wheel, some of it was directed to keep the ultra capacitor pack charged.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Ahem

    1993:
    NSX – 652
    Vigor – 10K
    Legend – 38.9K
    Integra – 58.7K

    1994:
    NSX – 533
    Vigor – 8.4K
    Legend – 35.7K
    Integra – 67.4K

    1995:
    NSX – 844 (year of the targa)
    Vigor – 16.5K (including TL)
    Legend – 18.1K
    Integra – 61.3K

    The Integra had sales that were pretty stable. The Legend and Vigor did not.

    The Integra had a VTEC system "essentially identical to that used in the NSX". The Legend and Vigor did not.

    You yourself have noted that Integra sales did their share to carry Acura through the 1990's while other models faltered. That was, in part, because buyers could get a little of that NSX magic in an inexpensive performance vehicle. The Legend/RL and Vigor/TL of the times were neither VTEC-powered nor performance-oriented.

    "To avoid [perception issues], top-to-bottom approach is needed. V8 or V10 need to be showcased at their best with detuned version showing up later in lesser models."

    Yes, you are correct. I was hasty and probably posted an incomplete thought. What I meant is that Acura should be building a V8-powered halo car and sharing that engine with the RL and MDX. This way, they get the halo car AND the engine for their mainstream products.

    "...my concern comes from the fact that unlike S2000, ASC is using an AWD system which will add some weight up front."

    It also adds weight to the back. That's where the fancy differential is located.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Lexus and Porsche have tangible "things" which separate them from Toyota and VW.

    Lexus uses luxury to put itself on another level above Toyota. They don't use performance (until recently), so the similarities there are less of an issue.

    Porsche creates a whole different breed of car. They use different styling, different drivetrains, and different body types. The performance of a Porsche is typically on a completely different level than VWs and Audis.

    Acura products are not necessarily sportier than Hondas. The S2000 is sportier than anything in the Acura lineup. The Prelude was sportier than the Integra. Enthusiasts often complained that the RSX prevented Honda from building a proper Civic Si. In fact, the current Civic Si is probably just as sporty as a TSX.

    Furthermore, Acuras are not remarkably more luxurious than Hondas. (Though, this seems to be changing.) Anyway, going from a Honda to an Acura is not as dramatic as going from a Toyota to a Lexus. Or, more specifically, the perception separating Honda and Acura is not as dramatic.

    Acura could have used VTEC to separate themselves from Honda, but they didn't. (I'm not saying they should have, but they could've.) With SH-AWD, they do have something which may be used as that single, performance-oriented feature which makes Acura unique from Honda. If they build a super car, I think it should highlight that unique feature.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    I can’t attribute Legend sales going downhill to NSX, or Integra’s consistent sales in 55-65K/year range in that same time frame. And as I pointed out, Integra’s best years happened in the pre-VTEC era. And Legend did have its strongest years along with NSX, and in fact outsold Integra which was a revelation to me. Except for 1994 Integra (67K sold), that number would not be repeated again until the incredibly successful 1999 TL in the year 2000.

    Legend’s decline is sales volume can also be attributed to reduced trim levels and increased price. Until 1993, Legend’s lowest trim was available for $29K or less. In 1994, the base price jumped up to $34K and topped out at $42K. Higher price = lower sales, unless the car is substantially different. In this case, that was not the case, and it happened without a redesign. How does NSX figure in all this?

    Honda’s refusal to use VTEC in Legend (and Vigor) is another of several bad moves by the company. In 1991, FSX concept was shown and complete with an SH-AWD like system. That car was powered by a 3.5-liter V6 DOHC VTEC rated at 280 HP. What happened to that engine? We won’t see a drive train like that in an Acura for another 13 years (until 2005 RL arrived).

    This also helps reinforce my point. If Acura doesn’t adopt showcased groundbreaking technologies in lesser cars, the company would not be helping itself. At least in case of NSX, VTEC trickled down to the cheapest Hondas, while the rest of the car demonstrated Honda’s commitment in its racing effort which is closely tied to its marketing efforts as well.

    What does ASC bring? SH-AWD is old news. V10 is unlikely to go mainstream (I will shut up if Acura RL is offered with a V10, but I am not holding my breath for it). May be it will demonstrate a brand new engine technology but it will remain pointless if that technology isn’t used in lesser cars (just like VTEC not being used in upper Acura models).

    NSX may not have been the fastest car, but it remains a benchmark. It was a product that was clearly out of the box thinking for a company that was pumping out docile mainstreamers. There is a reason it gets mentioned in test drives of newer super cars. It gets mentioned when people talk automotive technologies. It may not sell in huge volume, McLaren F1 didn’t either, but benchmark cars make a lasting impression.

    Too bad Acura fails to realize that. It is all about $$$ I guess. Unless they can sell a few thousand units of a car, it is deemed a failure. It makes sense from a bean counter perspective living in the present. But, I can’t help but ask as the question: “Where’s the passion?”

    It also adds weight to the back. That's where the fancy differential is located.

    But with rear biased SH-AWD, is it moving to the front? (we saw a rear biased SH-AWD-like system in Dual Note where the ATTS/planetary gearset was mounted on the front axle as opposed to RL’s where it is on the rear axle).
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    Not to mention, half the Lexus models are rear-drive cars on platforms not shared with Toyotas. There is no danger that anyone is going to ever call the LS460 or the IS350 a "gussied up" Toyota.

    In Honda's case however, every single model has at some time been called a gussied up Honda, except the NSX. And at various times in the last 15 years, such remarks have been very much on point IMO.

    Even the Integra, one of my favorite cars of all time, was barely a half notch beyond a gussied up, top-trim Civic at times (remember the old RS? Mmm-hmm...). It was usually fairly well disguised, especially with the advent of the RSX, but the remark hit home I think.

    Seems to me that if Acura really wants to eke out a new spot on the luxury spectrum for itself, the future RL (next gen, in fact) needs to be a proper sport luxury sedan, using the next-gen NSX powertrain and a stretched version of its platform. Nothing less will suffice. The RL and TL are clashing too much already. And it has been said many times, but the next TL has to be SH-AWD (hopefully with rear-biased settings). Even then it might get the "Gussied-up Accord" moniker thrown at it, but there will be a performance difference between the two substantial enough to qualify it for "Acura status".

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    Not to mention, half the Lexus models are rear-drive cars on platforms not shared with Toyotas. There is no danger that anyone is going to ever call the LS460 or the IS350 a "gussied up" Toyota.

    thanks i did not know that. from the outside, many of the toyota and lexus sedans look the same, right down to the funky bend in the exhaust pipe right before the muffler.

    that bend has always captured my imagination. does it serve a functional purpose?

    anyway, i think i see where you guys are comming from.

    i think there are a group of people that know Honda and Acura have a similar pedigree and opt to "buy up" when they come into more disposable income.

    i don't think there's anything wrong by having them have similar driving dynamics and features and parts. nope, i think it's a good thing for a portion of their loyal customer base.

    essentially, you guys want to widen the differences between the top end of the honda and the lower end of the accura lines right?

    i don't think you do that by throwing LUX at the vehicles. hondas and accuras are known for being functional, purposeful and non-extraneous right?
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Acura could have used VTEC to separate themselves from Honda, but they didn't. (I'm not saying they should have, but they could've.) With SH-AWD, they do have something which may be used as that single, performance-oriented feature which makes Acura unique from Honda.

    I don’t agree with the idea of using SH-AWD as the sole differentiator between Acura and Honda. There has to be more. I would rather see Acura being compared to Honda than with Subaru, Mitsubishi, Nissan etc. It would not only be a matter of pride, but also of perception in the market.

    Acura is in a position today to grab the prestige thing it has been chasing forever. Stubbornness needs to be put to rest. Acura has the volume today to easily warrant a platform dedicated to TL and RL. And potentially re-launch CL. Then ASC would start to make more sense too. Remember, Porsche isn’t where it is today by only selling 911, like Acura did with NSX.

    Emphasis has to be on styling that has a presence in a good way. Looking at TL on the road, I know Acura is capable of doing it. Having a mainstream coupe/sedan lineup like the following would do a lot of good:
    TSX: Compact touring sport sedan ($28-30K, FF, 210 HP/I-4)
    TL: Mid size touring luxury sedan ($35-40K, FR, 300 HP/V6)
    CL: Coupe and Convertible ($35-45K, FR, 300 HP/V6)
    RL: Full size luxury sedan ($45-55K, FR, 300 HP/V6 or 350 HP/V8)

    Each of these cars could be offered with a sport package (no need to bump up the power, just chassis tuning). Then comes the Type-S with SH-AWD:
    TSX-S: $35K, SH-AWD, 260 HP/Turbo I-4
    TL-S: $40-45K, SH-AWD, 350 HP/V6
    RL-S: $60K, SH-AWD, 400 HP/V8

    And then something like ASC with SH-AWD to top things off. I don’t think this is an impossible task for Acura, especially financially. Reward will be there’s to reap after initial investment which they need anyway to go any further.
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