Their reassessment means a fully-refreshed line including new cars as soon as this spring. The first in line is their new ILX compact sedan which will be based on the global Civic platform. The move signals Honda’s recognition that their brand isn’t competing with other luxury labels.
“Our sedans haven’t been doing the job for the brand,” said Vicki Poponi, American Honda assistant vice president for product planning, at a Detroit briefing for dealers and the media.
Honda plans to correct their habit of releasing cars that seem too similar, saying that the ILX will bare no resemblance to the Civic though the body is still under wraps.
“All the suspension settings will be tuned to be Acura,” Poponi said. “Consider it as different as the TL is from the Accord or the MDX is from the Pilot.”
Even within the car itself, customers will have the chance for significant differentiation. A 2.0-liter direct injection 4-cylinder will be available mated with an automatic transmission. If you prefer a more performance oriented ride, Acura hits you with a hotter 2.4-liter four and a six-speed manual. If saving gas gets you going, there will also be a 1.5-liter hybrid version available.
The company hopes the first of their new generation will boost sales beyond current averages thanks to clear differences between models.
Acura will step back from competing at the top-level luxury segment to offer a more refined mid-level Honda experience. The ILX might have a good shot at breaking into that territory given it’s “well below $30,000″ price tag. Acura hopes it will sell 40,000 units annually compared to the 31,998 highpoint for the TSX in 2008.
The Acura ILX Concept will debut at the Detroit Auto Show this January.