LA Auto Show – Acura Advanced Sedan Concept

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Honda‘s design facility in Torrance, California, has developed much of Acura‘s current lineup, including the TL, MDX, and RDX. And as Acura moves forward to become a global brand instead of only a North American one, Honda opens an Acura advance design studio in Pasadena, California, in 2007. It was that team that brought us the Advanced Sedan Concept at this November’s Los Angeles Auto Show, and the studio that will be responsible for Acura’s future design. The Advanced Sedan Concept is the first look at some of the studio’s thinking.
ASC: A Controversial and Amateurish Cartoon of an Acura Flagship
The Advanced Sedan Concept is a possible direction for “the biggest and baddest luxury/performance sedan we could possibly” build, according to head of the new Advanced Design Studio Dave Marek. No specifications were given for this pure design study, which did not have a finished interior or running gear, but its proportions indicated a possible front engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. As a dream of a car that maybe twelve years from now could rival Bentley or Maybach for presence as well as performance, a rear-drive orientation is the one expected by those buyers.

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Though the most controversial design execution at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Acura ASC lacks maturity needed for a range-topping flagship. Even though it hints at an urgently needed rear-wheel-drive V8-powered platform that could propel Acura into the top tier of luxury brands along with Lexus and Infiniti, the design cues are amateurish at best. The grille is almost cartoonish. Perhaps Acura designers have overcompensated for past milquetoast efforts here.
In fact, this concept could be qualified to appear in the VehicleVoice “What Were They Thinking?” category.
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The overdone five-sided grille is clearly Acura, evolved from the face of the new MDX, and made of polished aluminum and it sits in front of a engine bay that looks big enough to swallow a large, powerful engine. The crisp lines at the edge of the hood wrap around the vehicle, but are at odds with the lower character line that comes out of the front wheel and drops to the ground just ahead of the rear wheels. Then there are strong, crisp wheel flares over the rear wheel. The result is confusing; you aren’t sure which line your eyes should follow and believe, the suggestion of power from the large wheel arch or the hockey-stick lower character line that makes it look a little like it’s sagging in the middle.
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In the rear, narrow but long taillights at the each edge are meant to emphasize the wide, low stance. They seem, though, a little small on this large concept property. And the third brakelight that drops from the Acura logo splits the boattail shape of the rear in a completely unattractive way. The integrated bumper does nicely finish the back, but the rear overhang in general is too small; the long, low hood indicates a large engine, but the shortened rear overhang and trunk makes the passenger compartment look shortened up. In ten to fifteen years, a large, luxurious rear seat will be just as important to “captains of industry” as it is today, and Acura didn’t seem to leave enough room for that. Instead of the first-class airline seating that Maybach boasts, the Advanced Sedan Concept’s rear passenger area looked small and cramped.
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Brave Effort, But Acura Can Do Better with Time
All in all, it is good to see Acura exploring the future and Honda making a full commitment to the brand, as well as the commitment to developing vehicles in the United States. It is also refreshing to see and hear Acura considering a more aggressive personality for future designs. But the Advanced Sedan Concept still needs work. Size and a long hood aren’t enough to create presence, and initial reaction indicates Acura needs to go back to the drawing board here.

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