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Detroit show: Acura aims to ‘shake up’ luxury market

New model: The Acura ILX hybrid luxury sedan is based on the Honda Civic.

Honda luxury marque unveils all-new ILX small sedan and redesigned RDX compact SUV

10 Jan 2012

WHILE the NSX concept attracted most attention on the Acura stand in Detroit this week, Honda’s luxury division presented two other significant near-production models – the all-new ILX small sedan and the redesigned second-generation RDX compact SUV.

Both models will enter production in the United States later this year, with the Civic-based ILX creating a new entry level for Acura and heralding the first hybrid vehicle for the brand, and the CR-V-based RDX providing further impetus for sales in the compact luxury SUV segment.

Presenting the vehicles in Detroit, Acura general manager Jeff Conrad said the ILX, RDX and NSX were among a number of new models that would re-energise the brand, sales of which were down eight per cent in the US last year in what he described as a “tough year” due in particular to the Japanese and Thai natural disasters.

“Thank goodness it’s 2012,” he said, adding that the company had refocused “to unleash a series of new models that over the next 24 months will remake our product line-up and shake up the luxury market”.

“In short, we will again defy conventional wisdom and become one of the top luxury brands by creating luxury vehicles based on our own unique values,” he said.

125 center imageLeft: Acura RDX and NSX.

As GoAuto has reported, other vehicles on the launchpad are a bigger new Legend-based RL large sedan due later this year and, in 2013, a redesigned Accord-based TL medium sedan and MDX large SUV.

The strategy behind the ILX is to lure younger buyers into the luxury segment, with a high value placed on “exterior styling, affordability and environmental issues”.

Three petrol powertrains will be offered: a baseline 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, a higher-performance 2.4-litre four, and a 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid.

Among the “high-value” features offered on the ILX are keyless entry/start, internet radio interface and SMS text messaging capability.

As with all Acura models, the ILX will also include a range of trim levels (including a Technology Package) and a high level of safety features, including side and curtain airbags, ESC and a wide-angle rear-view camera.

The five-seat RDX, meanwhile, will be fitted standard with an upgraded 203kW 3.5-litre V6 engine that offers higher performance and improved economy, driving through a six-speed automatic gearbox (with a new lock-up torque converter) and, on AWD versions, a new lightweight and more efficient four-wheel-drive system.

Acura anticipates US EPA fuel economy of 20mph in the city (equivalent to 11.8L/100km) and 28mpg (8.4L/100km) on the highway for front-drive models, which it claims will be best in class.

Chassis updates include a longer wheelbase and wider track, all-new ‘Amplitude Reactive Dampers’, and a new ‘motion adaptive’ electric power steering system.

Engineers have also worked on reducing cabin noise, improving access via larger door openings, increasing passenger room and cargo volume, and introducing a power rear tailgate for extra convenience.

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