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Acura Type S Concept Heralds Renewed Focus on Performance

It may also mark a return to Honda's luxury brand’s original strategy.

These days, Japanese luxury brands are often the go-to for many buyers of more-than-mere-transportation vehicles, particularly Lexus, but also Acura and Infiniti. No so long ago, though, there were no Japanese luxury vehicle marques. Then Honda decided to launch the Acura brand for the U.S. with the slogan of “Precision Crafted Automobiles,” finding an immediate and strong success with its two-model offering of Legend and Integra. Now, Acura is trying to refocus its products and image around the idea of Precision Crafted Performance, a move previewed by the Type S concept being shown at this year’s Monterey Car Week events preceding the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

In the process, it looks like Acura may be realigning its brand, at least holographically, along the lines of the original pairing of Legend and Integra. Three years ago, the brand showed off its Precision Concept, a long, low, executive-sized sedan with futuristic styling and a number of accents and details we’ve come to see in production Acuras—in a way, a logical extension of the Legend. Now, the Type S Concept gives the “performance” bookend to the Precision Concept’s, well, precision. And, with it, a compact-sedan look at Acura’s brand future; in our scenario, this jibes with the memory of the Integra.

But regardless of the actual plans around product (no doubt planned to focus heavily on crossovers like the RDX and MDX), the Type S speaks more of a re-commitment to a consistent brand identity than anything else. Over the past two decades, Acura has moved its sights so often, even it doesn’t really seem to remember what its target was. But now, the brand seems to have a much clearer vision of itself, and therefore, a clearer vision of what it’s trying to accomplish.

“We’ve been dreaming about a new performance-focused Acura concept car since the Precision Concept debuted,” Dave Marek, Acura’s executive creative director, said in the announcement. “The Type S Concept speaks unambiguously to performance and to the essence of Acura design.”

Acura vice president Jon Ikeda took it a step further, saying, “The return of Type S is instrumental in our mission to return Acura to its performance roots . . . From bringing back the NSX to winning at the highest level of North American sports car racing and ushering-in a new generation starting with the RDX, we are revitalizing Acura on the foundation of our original and authentic brand values, piece by piece.”

While the Type S Concept doesn’t preview a specific production vehicle, it will “heavily influence” the design and look of the upcoming second-generation TLX Type S. In addition to the TLX, Acura will launch two more Type S variants in the next two years—and our (safe) bet is, at least one of those will be a crossover.

If you look closely at the Type S Concept, you’ll see it’s not just a clean-sheet design; there’s actually a lot of Acura design language lurking there. And for those elements that needed updating? Where better to draw from than the Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype race car? That’s exactly where the Acura design team pulled its inspiration from for the dramatic lighting at each end of the car (a styling theme dubbed “Chicane”).

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Coated in “Double Apex Blue Pearl” paint, Acura is missing no opportunities to make racetrack references. The svelte sedan also sits low on 21-inch wheels wrapped in 285-series high-performance rubber, with forged carbon front and rear splitters, side sills, rear decklid spoiler, and even those huge multi-spoke wheels.

The Acura Type S Concept makes its debut at a private Monterey Car Week event on Thursday, August 15, ahead of its public unveiling at 9:30 a.m. PT on Friday, August 16, at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, in Carmel Valley. It will also be displayed on the Concept Lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, August 18.

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