Acura: The Honda Luxury Brand You Probably Didn’t Know About

White Acura parked on a lot

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Acura is the Honda luxury brand you probably didn’t know about. Why? Simply because Honda wanted to distance itself from its mass-market segment and establish its presence in the luxury car industry. 

Honda Luxury Brand? A Fool’s Errand

Honda has always been seen as a mass-market car producer thanks to its iconic Civic. If you wanted a reliable car back then with performance in its DNA, you either went for a Civic or other Japanese vehicles.

The company’s influence in the automotive industry is still strong worldwide due to its sterling reputation in making dependable and affordable cars. However, Honda wanted to go a different route in the 80s and break through the world of luxury vehicles dominated by European brands.

Automotive giants like BMW, Mercedes and Audi were the big names in the luxury car segment. They offer world-class quality for those who are willing to pay premium prices. Honda decided to challenge this notion by producing cars that could wow drivers with thrilling features and an exhilarating experience for a fraction of the cost of European cars.

Many young drivers owned Hondas but moved on to luxury European cars as they progressed. Honda wanted a piece of the action and created a car line that could rival luxury vehicles. The Japanese car manufacturer aimed to be the first choice of drivers who wanted to upgrade their lifestyles.

Enter Acura — Honda’s luxury brand. The Acura brand was officially introduced in 1986 and became the first Japanese luxury car manufacturer. However, there was a lot of skepticism surrounding Honda’s move. Many people believed Honda should stay in its lane and keep on doing what it knows best — producing fuel-efficient and affordable cars.

Knowing the challenges of the transition, Honda decided to establish an all-new division with separate dealerships, marketing and a brand-new identity. The Japanese automaker had a vision for its new luxury segment — performance street cars with standard features that make driving a thrilling and pleasurable experience.

The New Kid on the Block

The Acura brand boasted luxury quality, first-class customer service and impeccable sales experience. It was in a class of its own because people had never heard of Japanese luxury cars. Still, it was winning hearts with its design and value-for-money offerings. Buyers could enjoy Honda’s world-renowned reliability with premium styling, comfort and performance.

It was a big risk, big reward moment for Honda and there was no time to play around. Acura’s leadership quickly got busy and established a network of specialized dealerships across North America. It also trained mechanics and engineers to work on the all-new engines and tune every car component to exacting standards.

Acura wrapped in Gtechniq livery

Acura launched the Legend and Integra in 1986 and both cars quickly became the talk of the automotive industry. Acura’s unlikely offerings were truly luxury-level and superior to other vehicles of its time. The Legend was the first Acura to carry a powerful but sophisticated 24-valve fuel-injected V6 engine. It also had an independent suspension system and disc brakes, providing drivers with supreme comfort and reliable braking power.

To help the brand’s launch succeed, Acura also brought one of Honda’s Japan-only offerings to the North American market — the Integra. It sported a fuel-injected 16-valve four-cylinder engine, giving drivers more fun behind the wheel. The first-generation Acura Integra also had a more rigid chassis for better performance and a stylish but timeless design.

Many journalists and competitors doubted Acura’s first foray into the luxury market, but the huge uptick in sales silenced them. Acura was no longer just the new kid on the block but a clear contender in the luxury segment. The new luxury car company sold over 52,000 cars and had 150 dealerships during its first year in business. By 1987, its sales skyrocketed to almost 110,000 vehicles for the calendar year.

Precision Crafted Performance

Acura’s story revolves around its commitment to bringing automotive luxury to consumers on a level never before seen in the industry. The young brand was unwavering in its belief that it could rival the best European brands and its slogan is just fitting — Precision Crafted Performance.

Acura promised buyers performance and luxury with its remarkable designs. The Legend and Integra turned heads and won many drivers’ hearts, but it was just the beginning for Acura. In 1990, it launched one of its most well-known and technologically advanced models, the NSX.

The NSX was Acura’s coup de grace — a mid-engine sports car that can rip through the track and be enjoyed on spirited weekend drives. It was the world’s first mass-produced car with an all-aluminum monocoque body that shaved off nearly 441 lbs of weight had it used steel in its construction.

Acura’s new sports car also used an all-aluminum 3.0 L V6 engine that featured Honda’s new variable valve timing and lift electric control system also known as VTEC. The first-generation NSX could churn out a power output of 270 horsepower and 210 lbs of torque, propelling it to a 7-minute and 56-second lap time on the famous Nürburgring track in Germany. The road course has over 150 complex turns and is over 20 kilometers. It’s one of the racing world’s most technically challenging and longest tracks.

Acura enlisted the help of F1 champion Ayrton Senna to improve the NSX during its development stage. Senna drove the NSX on the Suzuka race circuit in Japan, pushing the machine to its limit. Acura engineers and developers considered his input and refined the chassis to make it more rigid and responsive.

Acura remains true to its promise to deliver Precision Crafted Performance. The automaker has a lineup of luxury compacts, sedans and SUVs that cater to a range of discerning drivers. Some of its latest offerings include features like the AccuraWatch driver assist system, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, the latest VTEC turbo engines and many more.

An Auto Brand Worth Looking Into

The Acura name has always been synonymous with high-performance cars with luxurious features and superior technology. An Acura would be a good consideration if you’re a car enthusiast and want to experience precision-crafted performance from a vehicle with an exciting and colorful history.

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