Dave Marek, Acura global creative director, debuting the Acura Precision Concept at the 2016 North American International Auto Show. It is a direction for where theyâre going to be taking Acura design, not simply a singular vehicle.
âInternally you clay and clay and clay,â says Marek about working on the Acura Precision Concept in the studio. âFirst you need more section, then thereâs too much, looks like a hotdog. In my eye, Iâd rather err on the side of leanness than more robustness. There are luxury brands that are tough and big and awesome. I respect that.â But thatâs clearly not the direction theyâre taking with this car.
Inside, there is a double-layered instrument panel. The large center screen is curved. Note the use of wood and leather, the types of materials characteristic of luxury vehicles. And speaking of wood: they even use it to craft the speaker grilles, certainly an unexpected touch.
Were the Acura Precision Concept a jet, then it would be like the F-35. (photo: Lockheed Martin)
n the front, there are the signature Acura Jewel Eye headlights. But look closely at whatâs going on in the taillights, where there are âfractal elementsâ floating in the space around the LEDs.
One of the things that is in short supply nowadays is the vehicle design study.
Sure, there are plenty of studies being taken all the time in studios and at design schools.
But how often does a major automobile manufacturer show the world the direction that they want to take their vehicles, to show what is essentially a unified collection of cues that the design team fully intends to deploy on production cars going forward?
In some cases, not at all.
Although Acura has been around since 1986âand realize that Lexus and Infiniti didnât appear in the U.S. market until 1989âit is still the challenger brand.
While the NSXâthe original of 1990 and the 2017 model that is being produced at the Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohioâis certainly a bold statement of purpose and conceivably intent, the design of that vehicle was executed for that vehicle.
So Dave Marek, Acura global creative director, and his team decided that they needed to create a definition, a pattern, an automotive variant of adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, and to encapsulate it into a car. But, Marek says, they didnât just want to do this for their own internal edification. They wanted to create a statement, to plant the proverbial flag in the ground, to say: âTHIS is the design direction that Acura is taking.â
Which gave rise to the Acura Precision Concept. And the Acura Precision Concept is an expression of what Marek calls âPrecision Crafted Performance.â
And Marek managed to get the green light to create a full-size model of the Acura Precision Conceptâexterior and interior fully executedâthat would be taken off the design patio and taken to the auto show circuit, for all the world to see.
One unusual aspect of this car is that while it has a long hood (dash-to-axle ratio), absence of a B-pillar and a fastback roofline, something that one might ordinarily consider to be the cues of a coupe, it is a sedan. Marek explains, âWeâre serious about this. I wanted to do a sedan because this is how we want our cars to look.â
Thatâs as in "really look."
Marek continues, âCoupes are a given in a show car. This is more of a road map for us.â A roadmap riding on 22s.
He wants the car to be the âNorth Starâ for the design team.
Marek acknowledges that the sedans in the Acura showroomÂ âneed a shot in the arm.â And while he points out that the SUVsâthe MDX and RDXâare doing well, they could use a booster, too.
Marek says of the carâs exterior execution, âWe want to do the sharp lines and have some agileness or sportiness to it by leaning it out.â While the transition surfaces arenât, he says, âvoluptuous per se,â he says they have âsome section so they donât feel flat, but precise.â Marek adds, âWe could have done it flat and edgy.âÂ
(The car is more F-35 Lighting II than F-117 fighter.)
Marek says, âThe NSX has surface, but it is also edgy. It feels more sharp to me.â
Michelle Christensen is principal exterior designer for the vehicle. She also happened to have that role for the NSX. And the interior design for the APC was headed up by John Norman, who also worked the interior for the NSX.
Speaking of the interior, there is a blend of the technical, the performance and the comfortable. As in (1) a curved center screen thatâs operated with a touch pad suspended on the center stack; (2) there is a compact steering wheel with paddle shifters and a driver heads-up display; (3) the floating rear seats (the door rocker transitions to the interior side sill which then transforms to a cantilever for the rear seats) are lounge-chair like in execution.
Marek, who joined Honda R&D in 1987 and who has been to more auto shows and concours than he can probably remember or would be willing to admit, says, âA show car is a show car. You can guess at the parts that wonât make it.â Flights of fancy end up bumping up against physics and financesâand not necessarily in that order.
But of the Acura Precision Concept, he says, âI literally didnât want to do a car we werenât capable of doing.â
Based on the NSXâas well as the companyâs manufacturing prowessâit is a pretty good bet that thereâs probably far more do-able on the sedan than one might otherwise imagine. Â