Date: April 08, 2007 08:00
In what's become a bit of an annual TOV tradition, our "Spring Cleaning" news feature is intended to provide a quick summary of what Honda and Acura have in store for your favorite products. This year we decided to split the feature in two pieces, serving up the Acura info first. Watch for the Honda update in the next few days. The report this year is a little bit earlier than past spring previews, so we will continue to provide updates when we learn more.
After emptying its chamber in 2006 with the RDX and MDX launches, Acura has left the cupboards essentially bare for 2007. Basically the only news here is that the 2007 model year will reportedly be cut short for one or more of the nameplates.
TSX We've heard from several sources that the buildout for the '07 TSX is already taking place. That means that '08 models will be appearing in showrooms in the early to mid-summer timeframe. There had been some speculation that given Acura's otherwise empty launch schedule for 2007, the FMC (full model change) for the TSX would possibly take place in the fall of 2007 for the 2008 model year. Current reports indicate that Acura will instead launch the next generation TSX as a 2009 model sometime in the early portion of 2008. We're hoping that means around March or April, as the current TSX launched in a similar timeframe in 2003. As for the product itself, there have been several different rumors floating about but AWD seems to be a common thread in most of the rumors. At this point it's not clear whether AWD will be standard or not, but if it's not you can safely bet that the base models will be front-wheel-drive. There have also been a few rumors of turbocharged motors finding their way underhood of the TSX, but we have heard no firm confirmations of these, and for what it's worth, at one point a half year ago or so some folks were telling us that the TSX would definitely NOT be getting a turbo motor. The current TSX is a fantastic car, but it's a bit of a shame that Acura never fully realized the car's magnificent potential with a potent ~250hp motor and limited-slip diff.
What it needs: A more thrilling motor that can match its excellent chassis, and a limited slip diff to go along with it.
What it DOESN'T need: We fear that an AWD system will bring too much weight and drag, dulling the TSX's edge
- RDX We don't expect to see many changes to the RDX for 2008. This is another model that will supposedly see an early '07 buildout. The RDX has missed sales targets by a fair margin, so it will be interesting to see if an MMC (minor model change) occurs earlier than typical, in MY'09.
What it needs: A more responsive transmission and a diet. A big reduction in understeer/more proactive SH-AWD system. A 6MT would be nice too.
What it DOESN'T need: Turbo lag, high sticker price, two ton curb weight
- TL The third generation TL launched very successfully in 2003 and recently benefited from its MMC for model year '07. Unfortunately, the expected uptick in sales hasn't quite materialized yet, even with the addition of the potent Type-S model. Competition has intensified greatly for the TL, so the parameters for the FMC (due next fall for model year 2009) are critical. The expectation is that the next-gen TL will join the remainder of Acura's lineup in carrying the SH-AWD torch. We're also expecting to see Advanced VTEC applied to its V6 motor for '09, and outputs nudging north of 300hp.
What it needs: Unique underpinnings from the Accord. Real sporting credentials (a proper FR-based chassis). A 6-speed automatic. A pure focus on driving.
What it DOESN'T need: More weight. We can tolerate SH-AWD, but only if it's offered in addition to FR and coupled to a responsive transmission
- MDX It's only been on the road for around 6 months, and sales have been pretty steady. Don't expect anything but minor trim tweaks and perhaps some swatch shuffling until the MMC. Perhaps we'll see the auto-dimming rear view mirror that Acura somehow forgot on the '07 models. We love the MDX's 300hp 3.7L V6, but it would feel even better if it were hooked up to a more responsive transmission with tighter gearing. A 6-speed automatic should do the trick, and we're hoping that Acura engineers are hard at work on that right now.
What it needs: A more responsive transmission with tighter gearing would make the most of the MDX's potent V6. A V8 would help its pedigree.
What it doesn't need: To lose sight of the competition.
- RL The poor RL continues to get battered in showrooms. As we discussed a little over a year ago, the product planners at Acura don't seem to have a lot to work with for the RL's MMC, so we're left wondering if it makes any sense to even do an MMC for the RL. From a strictly US perspective, the best strategy may be to just cut bait on it after a four or five model year run and perhaps reintroduce the Legend nameplate on an FR platform that could be shared with the TL (or whatever they might want to call a slightly smaller, sportier sedan variant). While it sounds like a good plan for the North American market, the problem with this strategy is that the RL was introduced in Europe fairly recently, as the Honda Legend. So that means the Legend name probably wouldn't fly on a completely different Acura vehicle, nor would Honda likely be super keen on replacing the European Legend so soon after its introduction. Now if there is in fact an MMC, Acura needs to cook up a real humdinger of a drivetrain with a 300+hp V6 that feels like 300hp and a transmission that makes the most of it. With its 6-cylinder competition now offering 0-60 times in the low 5s range, it needs to be a pretty special drivetrain.
What it needs: A clean sheet redesign that takes the market into account (Hint: FR configuration, engine options). A big boost in performance will help in the mean time, starting with a better matched transmission.
What it DOESN'T need: Let's just move on...
NSX About the only thing we know for sure is that we won't be seeing an NSX successor in MY'08. Of course, we got to see the Advanced Sports Car Concept at this year's Detroit Auto Show, and there's supposed to be another concept shown in Tokyo this Fall, but if we're to believe some reports that are floating around, Acura's backpedaling a bit on where the NSX is headed. Some stories suggested that Acura had already scrapped the ASCC design. If true, a 2010 debut may be too optimistic, but we're willing to wait another year or two for the right car. We've made no secret that we're not big on the Front-engined, all-wheel-drive layout that Acura's been talking about - we feel that anything tied to the NSX's heritage must have the motor mounted midship. And we realize some people are big fans of AWD, but we'd rather keep things simple (and lighter!) and have our next-gen NSX rear-wheel drive. An SH-AWD version is fine as long as it's offered in addition to the mid-engined, rear-drive "base" NSX.
What it needs: Mid-engine, rear drive base configuration, and keep weight targets as low as feasible. SH-AWD should be optional.
What it DOESN'T need: To become a GT-R.
Last edited by JeffX on
February 01, 2008 08:54