Q&A: Jon Ikeda, Team Leader on Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept

January 31, 2007
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Talk about the design language of Acura.
The design language has been around for a while. If you look at the previous HSC show car, there is some hint of sheered surfaces. We've been known for some time for playing around with points and sharp lines. We're just taking it to the next level. In-house, we're calling it Keen Edge Dynamic.
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What is the philosophy behind Keen Edge Dynamic?
When we decided to go down the road to advanced styling, we had to decide on a way to design advanced things. We looked in the crystal ball a bit. We've always embraced technology at Acura. We've always thought that the man-machine relationship was very important. So we took those two elements as the key things we had to express in our shapes.
The technology portion of the style you can see in the sheer, machined surfaces. A sheered look. The emotional aspects you see in these lines. They're fading in and out. They're a little more random. They're a little bit from nature. These things combined with sheer surfaces give us what we call Keen Edge Dynamic. The sharp edges and points are expressionist - something that Acura has been doing forever. Precisionist.
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This car is a very raw, straightforward expression of that combination of sheer surfaces and random points and lines. We think the philosophy stands out in the shape of the car.
What's the key design feature of the ASCC?
If you look at the profile of the car, one of the key features is the little scoop-out to the rear of the greenhouse. If you look at exotic sports cars, on a long shot every car has a distinct character; a silhouette that identifies it. There's that long shape with a little kick at the end. If you were to draw a little cartoon of it, this would be an identifier. That little flag at the C-pillar is another of those little nuances that help identify it.
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And the character lines?
In and out surfacing--where lines come in and out--that's the emotional part colliding with sheer surfaces. When we were making the sides of the car, the clay-modelers were using their steels to shape it. We were always talking about combining these steels and bending them. It is the highlights that turn this way and that. These sheer surfaces give you the technical feel of the car. If you play with the emotional lines too much, you get something a little retro, which is something we didn't want. Mixture of machined lines, but assembled in a random, natural way. It's the mixture. We have a little bit of that going on in the wheel design.
What message do you want to convey with the design of the Advanced Sports Car Concept?
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The car is a representation of the advanced message that we want. My dream in "designland" is when they tell us sports car, I'm thinking powerful, aggressive, hopefully performance. We have in mind SH all-wheel drive as we draw. Our previous look at this for Tokyo was a mid-engine concept. So we said, "Why not try a front-engine concept?" We're always trying to move on with the company and not hold on to the past. We're not scared to try something. We're trying to be our own brand.
It's got that wide and low thing going and the wheelbase is fairly substantially long, to give it a feel of some elegance. The wheelbase is 108 inches. We're trying to play with the skin a little bit, an exercise in a direction we could go--just a concept. With a long wheelbase, it lets the lines live a little more and finish off a little better than if the wheelbase was all jammed up.
How long have you been working on a sports car concept?
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We've been sketching this car for a while. Patrick Lukasak, the designer who has been penning this car, is just two years out of design school and he's been working on this car for a real, real long time. He's been probably drawing it since first term at Art Center. Billy Yex is the master modeler and he's been around fifteen or sixteen years. He's touched everything we've worked on. But he's never had a chance at a Sports Car. So here's this kid just two years out of design school and he comes up with this sketch and we're looking at it, and we decide this has all the stuff we're talking about. So we put these guys together and let them do their thing.
It was very exciting for me personally, because twenty years ago I had a similar experience with a show car and a master modeler helped me out. As we tell any kid that walks into the studio, you're only as good as the modeler who makes it. And we tell the modeler that you're only as good as the guy who makes the data off your skin. And we tell the skin guy that you're only as good as the fabricator who makes the car off your skin data. Everyone understands in our studio, that there's not a lot of me, mine, I.
How long did it take to design this particular concept?
This car has taken about a year because we really wanted to let it mature a little bit. It is a message car; it's a direction we're going down with this flavor, the Keen Edge Dynamic. Defines design language.
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Technology is coming at the automobile full bore, and designers everywhere are looking for a way to express that feeling of technology. Our outlook at Acura is that basically it's a good future. We're not going to get run over by technology. We embrace it.
As Mr. Fukai has already said, this car will be a powerhouse, with a V-10 and all-wheel drive. Set new limits. It'll be interesting to see how the R&D guys adapt SH to rear-drive platform. Cornering g loads. We're looking at competing with real high-end stuff - Ferrari, Aston martin, Lamborghini. Not Corvette. Not a 350Z. A successor to the NSX. Not a replacement.

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