Past Meets Future
Automobile|December 2019
Acura Returns To Its Roots To Find Way Forward Fresh
Nelson Ireson

TUCKED AWAY IN the sleepy little Los Angeles suburb of Torrance, American Honda’s headquarters looks like any other office complex in the South Bay area. But nestled within its fenced campus is a walled complex of buildings where the company’s sport/luxury marque, Acura, researches, lays out, and mocks up its bleeding-edge designs and technology—and, occasionally, invites the media in for a secret preview. So it was that we found ourselves in a nondescript gray concrete courtyard, surrounded by high walls, with tape over our phones’ camera lenses, faced with a sleek blue car, talking with Acura chief Jon Ikeda and executive creative director Dave Marek, walking around the car, squatting and standing, searching for a bad angle.

What makes this concept so important, you ask? Why all the cloak and dagger? Because the Type S concept portends more than a single product. It represents the very core of the Acura brand and its future.

“Design has been fundamental to the recommitment of Acura to performance,” Marek said. “If you look at our lineup in 2015 and compare it to today, everything has been transformed, down to color. Same goes for our marketing direction. Design thinking has influenced the entire brand. Jon has played a big role in that. We’re attempting to be bold and stand out, and we feel strongly that we’re on the right path.”

Ikeda’s “big role” in making design prominent in the Acura brand isn’t just lip service. Before he became an American Honda Motor Co. vice president and boss of the Acura brand, Ikeda was in the Acura Design Studio he helped create, where he penned the still-excellent 2004 Acura TL, which just happens to be the bestselling Acura model of all time.

“Dave does what Dave does with his team, which is my old team,” Ikeda said. “We like cars, and the Type S is a badass-looking car. … My role has been, strategically speaking, to get us back on the performance map, and Type S is a key component. Sports derivatives are key components for Acura going forward.”

Just how direct of an influence will the Type S concept have on future product? Very much; the next-generation TLX will be “heavily influenced” by the Type S. “It’s a concept, but I can tell you it’s got a good chunk of what it’s going to be in [the upcoming TLX].”

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