Acura, a brand of Japanese automaker Honda Motor Company, is expected to present a new version of the TSX sports sedan. The presentation is slated to take place in New York, at the International Auto Show next month.
The TSX will mark the second generation of the entry-level sedan made by the luxury brand. The new model will have enhanced performance, styling, safety and technology features.
The price on the model starts with $28,190. The new car will be introduced to the general public on March 19-20. The International Auto Show opens in New York on March 21 and runs through March 30.
Acura primarily competes with Lexus, Infiniti and Cadillac among others as a certified luxury vehicle. It has been used in the US, Canada and Hong Kong since March 1986 to market Honda's performance automobiles and near-performance vehicles. The brand was introduced to Mexico in 2004 and to the Chinese market in 2006. It is also planned to extend Acura to the Japanese domestic market two years from 2008 or so. With the Acura brand, Honda is credited with being the first to tap into a market for luxury Japanese cars outside Japan. Before Acura, automobiles exported from Japan were primarily economical in design and largely targeted at low-cost consumers.
In 1986, following a decade of research, Honda opened 18 all-new dealerships in North America to support its Acura automobile division. Acura was the first Japanese luxury brand to appear, and its initial offerings consisted of four models: the Legend, a V6-powered coupe and sedan, and the Integra, available as a five-door and three-door hatchback, as well as a sedan. The success of these models led to competing Japanese luxury brand ventures (Toyota's Lexus and Nissan's Infiniti).
In 1990, four years after the debut of the Legend and Integra, Acura introduced the NSX, a midship V6 powered, rear-wheel-drive sports car. The NSX, an acronym for "New Sports eXperimental", was billed as the first Japanese car capable of competing with Ferrari and Porsche. This vehicle served as a halo car for the Acura brand. The NSX was the world's first all-aluminum production car.
Despite a strong start for the Acura brand (in terms of market acceptance), sales suffered in the mid- to late 1990s. Some critics attributed this decline in part to less inspiring designs. Additionally, during this time Acura switched to an alphanumeric nomenclature formula, dropping the Legend and Integra titles. The 1996 3.5 RL, which replaced the popular Legend, was seen by many as the epitome of this problem, namely because the RL designation was more anonymous than the former Legend title. Also, the RL's 210 horsepower (160 kW) V6 (later increased to 225 hp) and front-wheel drive, together with a high price and styling that cautiously copied the larger and more powerful Lexus LS 400, did little against BMW, Audi, Lexus, and other competitors. During this time, the NSX also lost sales as Acura made few changes from its original 1989 trim. A year later, the Integra sedan was withdrawn, replaced by the Acura 1.6EL, which was only sold in Canada as a rebadged Honda Civic. The Integra sedan continued to be sold in the United States until 2001.
Despite these letdowns, Acura gained prominence in the 1990s with a young group of customers: tuner enthusiasts. Parent company Honda's reputation with this demographic as a maker of "easy-to-tune" and "rev-happy" engines rubbed off onto Acura, and the Integra became a popular tuner car.
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