Much like parent company Honda, Acura was present at the 2013 Shanghai Motor Show with a concept that previewed an upcoming vehicle designed for the Chinese market. In a show teeming with some of the most ill-proportioned concepts ever to grace the earth, the Acura Concept SUV-X was one of the few shining lights. However, that’s not saying much.
Marking the first time that Acura has premiered a concept model outside of North America, the Concept SUV-X combines sharp styling (literally), driving performance and the utility of an SUV to provide what will likely be a compelling proposition for the average Chinese buyer.
“We are planning to produce the mass-production model of the Acura Concept SUV-X locally in China,” Honda president Takanobu Ito told journalists at a presentation in Shanghai. “With the hope that our Chinese customers will more closely feel the values offered from Acura, we will begin preparing for the start of the local production. In China, where dynamic growth continues, both Acura and Honda will keep up our efforts to enhance products and technologies that will offer new joys of mobility to our customers.”
Acura plans to launch a production model in China in about three years.
Honda CEO Disappointed With Acura’s Performance
It’s been hard times for Acura. While Honda Motor Co.’s Honda brand managed to outpace the overall U.S. auto industry in much of 2016, it’s luxury division continues to struggle. Company CEO Takahiro Hachigo isn’t happy.
Sales at Acura fell 9.3 percent in the first nine months of the year, with its cars plunging 17 percent and light trucks declining by 4.5 percent. In an interview with , Hachigo said “Of course, I am not satisfied with the current results.”
According to the executive, Acura needs to reinforce its strength in utility vehicles while improving the appeal of its sedans by spicing up their design and driving performance. The primary goal is to solidify the brand’s foothold in the U.S. and China, the world’s biggest car markets, before even thinking about going all-out global.
In Hachigo’s exact words:
“Globally, we think the U.S. and China are the only regions where it is possible for us to cap the two pillars [of regional and global vehicles] with a luxury brand. For other regions, we want to build a solid business using the region-specific models and global models first.”
With “lowly” Honda encroaching on its near-luxury territory by offering an increasing number of premium features, many auto critics have written Acura off as a redundancy. Do you think the brand has a shot in today’s automotive landscape? If so, what must it do to make a name for itself?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Here’s Why Japanese Luxury Cars Are So Weird-Looking
From Acura’s once controversial beaked grille to Lexus’ jagged, seemingly deformed front ends, to say that Japanese luxury cars are weird-looking would be an understatement. However, their polarizing designs are deliberate, and it’s all because of China!
Somewhere in the U.S., Donald Trump isn’t happy…
As it turns out, the Japanese haven’t been designing their cars for North American or Europeans. Rather, it’s the Chinese market they’re more interested in. Nissan-Infiniti chief creative officer and head of design, Shiro Nakamura, said as much in an interview with :
“The United States is slightly more conservative. China is a rather young market. They don’t know the name of the brand; they don’t know the quality, the performance. So visual communication is most important. In the first encounter, you judge visually.”
China is home to a dizzying number of both domestic and foreign brands, so automakers must do everything in their power to stand out. Chinese customers prefer “dazzle and baubles,” apparently.
Approximately 2 million luxury cars are sold every year in United States alone, just slightly above China’s 1.7 million units. Toyota’s Lexus, Nissan’s Infiniti and Honda’s Acura all expect China to soon overtake the US as the world’s largest premium car market, explaining why Lexus found it compelling to debut their recent, rather outlandish IS facelift at the 2016 Beijing Motor Show.
It’s also the reason why Nissan brought Chinese designers to its Japanese studios to help design the Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration, which also debuted in Beijing.
By the look of things, it doesn’t seem like the American, European and Korean automakers feel the same way… Who’s do you think is right?
Acura CDX Small SUV Debuts in China, Based on Honda HR-V
Acura used the 21016 Beijing Motor Show to show off its newest model, the CDX. The small SUV is the first Acura to be built in China.
Although based on the same platform that underpins the Honda HR-V, the CDX looks completely different from the Honda, featuring a unique front fascia highlighted by a bold hexagonal grille and headlight design inspired by the Acura Precision Concept that debuted earlier at the Detroit Auto Show.
The rear end is more subdued, but still looks like nothing seen on the HR-V.
Opening the front doors reveals a uniquely Acura interior with a higher quality materials and more available options than any Honda of its size.
A 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine is the only powerplant Chinese buyers get, at least initially, and it produces 182 horsepower and 177 lb-ft. of torque. Both front- and all-wheel drive configurations are available, each with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The Acura CDX goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2016. It is unclear if the Japanese automaker will sell the compact luxury crossover in North America, Europe and other markets, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually does considering how red-hot the global crossover-SUV segment is.