History of the Acura brand
The Acura car brand was founded in 1984 in North America and is a division of Honda, which specializes in the production of premium cars. Acura is an emotional and technological continuation of Honda it surprises with its reliability and rational thoughtfulness, but at the same time brings to a whole new level another important component of the brand – emotion. Sporty design, aggressive character and innovative technology, encapsulated in Acura cars do not exist separately from the driver, on the contrary, they create a harmonious system of coexistence between man and car. Nowadays Acura cars are not only the luxury and comfort items, but also the proof of a special status of their owners.
The brand name Acura was not chosen by chance. The basis was taken from the Latin morpheme “Acu”, which in many languages equally means accuracy, precision and precision. As a result a completely new word “Acura” was invented, which has a pleasant sound and accurately conveys the strategic component of the new Honda brand. Stylized image of a calliper – a tool used to take accurate measurements when making drawings, thus emphasizing that all products under the new brand name are the technological and design excellence in the field of automotive engineering.
In a historical sense, Acura is the first Japanese brand that decided to enter the premium car market, thereby forever changing the balance of power in this segment. The new brand was based on the philosophy of creating products that are technologically ahead of their time, when a car is not just a separate mechanism, but an instrument to expand and complete human capabilities, making life more harmonious and filling it with emotions.
Throughout its existence, Acura cars have repeatedly received high awards in the field of innovative technology and safety, topping the U.S. ratings “J.D. Power’s”, “Car and Driver’s 10 Best List”, “Motor Trend” and others. Thus, in 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show was presented the first model of the legendary Acura NSX sports car, which demonstrated to the world the technological leadership of Acura brand in the sphere of creation of premium sports cars. The NSX, the first of its kind, featured a lightweight aluminum body and a powerful VTEC® engine with titanium connecting rods under the hood.
With the advent of the millennium, in 2001, Honda’s premium division launched its first crossover – the Acura MDX, which became a bestseller in its first year of sales among cars of its class. Most of the U.S. auto magazines and rating agencies in their expert reviews agreed in opinion to award the title “Car of the Year” to the new creation of Acura brand. The new MDX had a wealth of options and technology for its time: a best-in-class navigation system, torque management system, which improved the off-road capabilities of the car without compromising its dynamic performance, as well as the Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® wireless communication system.
Over the past 26 years, the Acura brand has always stayed true to its core principles: a premium car should not just be reliable, dynamic and comfortable; it should always be technologically innovative, design-wise bold, and offer its owners an unforgettable driving experience. Reflecting these basic principles, at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show Acura introduced a new version of the legendary Acura NSX supercar to the world public. The new model features a centrally located next-generation VTEC® direct injection six-cylinder engine and the innovative Sport Hybrid SH-AWD® system for superior handling and vehicle dynamics. The new NSX is intended to be an unprecedented expression of the Acura brand’s core concept: the desire to achieve synergy between the automobile and the individual.
Acura. The history of the brand.
The history of how Acura was created, established production and then became a key player in the market of prestige cars shows that it is an undeniable merit not only of the company’s products, but also of the people who had the foresight to create the first Japanese automobile brand that produces premium-class cars. Not only did Acura contribute to changing attitudes toward expensive cars. Today, Japanese prestige cars are taken for granted, and the first of the Acura Lexus and Infiniti was Acura.
During the brand’s debut in the mid-’80s, the Japanese auto industry in the United States, including Honda, managed to gain a reputation for reliability, economy and low price that was the envy of many American automakers. What does this have to do with Honda and the United States? The thing is that Acura is a luxury division of the Honda concern in the U.S., which specializes in the production of prestigious cars. Cars under the Acura brand were designed for the markets of the United States (first of all), Canada, Mexico and China. In Europe and Japan itself the cars of this brand are still not officially represented.
Philosophy, first-class reliability and excellent driving qualities the brand inherited from its ancestor. Add to this the added comfort and elements of luxury and you get Acura in its purest form.
At the time, many young people drove Honda cars, loyal to the brand. However, people were getting older and their incomes were growing over time. Honda was no longer matching their level and ambition. This gap was filled by the hatch brand Acura.
In 1981, Honda was designing a new big sedan. It was larger than the Accord in width, had the first V6 engine in Honda’s history, and was richly equipped. Its main merits were not economy, but the ability to excite the driver. Honda executives saw it as a great car to retain buyers intent on buying a higher-end model.
But the problem was not the design, but the perception of Japanese car brands in the United States. In the eyes of the American average person, “Japanese” was associated with reliability and economy, and prestige and luxury were the prerogative of German brands.
Honda was a success with both customers and the media, but all of its cars were in the mid-price segment. No one argued that Honda made excellent cars, but it was unrealistic to compete with the German luxury brands. In this class, they paid attention to prestige in the first place, and then to the rest.
Some time later Honda decided to release the Legend sedan. A powerful injector 24-valve V6 engine, independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes, and luxury equipment generally built a favorable image of a premium car.
The problem with selling such an expensive car through Honda sales offices was obvious. Customers would not purchase such an expensive car under the Honda brand name. Ultimately, Honda management decided to create a new division focused on the needs and expectations of high-end car buyers. It was to be completely independent, with its own representative offices and first-class customer service.
The very idea of creating the world’s first Japanese brand for the production of prestige cars was quite risky. Creating a brand with only one car in the lineup was too dangerous. Fortunately a solution was found and it was decided to pair the Legend with a sports coupe Integra, which had already been produced for the Japanese market under the Honda brand. With a four-cylinder 16-valve engine, fuel injection, a fine-tuned chassis, and an attractive design, the Integra was to join the ranks of sports cars of the time.
In February 1984, American Honda confirmed its intentions to enter the luxury car market under a new brand. The main task was to convince customers that before them is more than just an expensive Honda
The new division needed a name, the challenge was to create a name that would convey image and style. And in September 1984, the new name was officially announced: Acura. It was derived from “acu”, which is Latin for “precise” or “made with precision”.
Acura was to introduce new technology to Honda’s existing car service personnel, and Pugh established new service training centers in Los Angeles, Atlanta and New Jersey. Service personnel hired in September 1985 had only a few months to learn the new Acura technology before the cars went on sale in late March 1986. Many new technological advances had to be learned. Not only was Acura showing two all-new engines, including the company’s first V6, but electronic fuel injection, four-wheel disc brakes, dual overhead cams, and other technological innovations were also standard on all cars.
On March 27, 1986, the Acura public division officially began its operations. Honda in its inimitable style again revolutionized the automobile world and this time in the luxury class – from that point on, an expensive car did not have to be European.
By the end of its first year, Acura had sold 52,869 cars and had grown to 150 dealers. In 1987, sales continued to grow to 109470 cars. Not only was this double the previous year, but it also surpassed every European luxury car brand in the United States, silencing even its harshest critics and unequivocally proving that Acura had become a major player in the luxury car market.
By the end of 1987 Acura had confirmed the reputation of its high-end cars with a string of prizes. The Legend and Integra won comparison tests one after the other, proving the cars’ character even to the most ardent critics. The Integra and the classic Legend Coupe, added to the lineup in 1987, were on Car and Driver’s Top 10 list. The Legend Coupe won the title of “1987 Import Car of the Year” from Motor Trend, and Road and Track named the Legend Coupe one of the 10 best cars in the world.
Acura’s incredible success inspired other Japanese brands as well – Toyota and Nissan also announced plans to create their own prestige car divisions.
In 1989 Acura introduced its third car – the exotic and sporty Acura NSX. The unusual novelty proved the technological leadership of Acura. The NSX had the first mass-produced aluminum monocoque body, the first engine with variable valve timing and valve lift (VTEC) and the first connecting rods made of titanium.
Acura did not stand still in terms of modernizing its main products. In the early ’90s, there was a generational change in the Legend and Integra models, which firmly occupied their market segments and were still in strong demand. The new Integra was bigger, more powerful, more luxurious and even better to drive. And the Legend solidified the model’s place in the luxury car market. Both models only improved the company’s reputation.
The Acura badge did not appear on cars until 1990. It was designed in the form of a crozier, which demonstrates the precision and attention to detail with which Acura products were made.
In 1992, the Vigor was introduced to fill the niche between the Integra and Legend. Later Acura began changing model names to alphanumeric designations and so the Vigor became the TL, the Legend renamed the RL.
With a solid reputation as a technology leader, Acura was ready to redefine its place in the crowded luxury car market to win over tech-minded buyers. The first result of this policy was the 1999 TL model. The car had a long list of options as standard, including a navigation system and DVD player (now that seems self-evident), making it an instant bestseller.
In 2000, Acura launches its first SUV, the Acura MDX, whose success has not been bypassed either. Acura’s reputation for introducing new technologies was strengthened even more with the release of the MDX. Its navigation system became an industry benchmark. There was a third row of seats that folded down to form a level floorplan, a feature the competition simply didn’t offer. The MDX was also the first expensive SUV to meet ULEV (extremely low-emission vehicle emissions) standards. Unlike the Legend and Integra, which were manufactured in Japan, and the CL and TL, which are entirely designed and manufactured at Honda plants in the United States, the MDX was designed in the United States and is manufactured at a plant in Canada.
In 2002, the TL, CL and the renamed Integra to RSX were also available in Type-S versions, which had a more powerful engine, tuned sport suspension and a choice of six-speed manual transmission. Some time later, new models appeared – the RDX, a sporty SUV on which Honda used a turbine for the first time. In 2004, there was a new sports sedan TSX, which later became a replacement for the Acura RSX sports coupe (discontinued in 2005).
Honda has achieved its goal. The Acura brand addresses customers whose sense of prestige comes not from traditional symbols of position in society, but from a sense of being ahead. That’s because Acura creates world-class luxury cars that use technological innovations not only to improve driving performance, but also to make the driver’s life more enjoyable.