The Legacy of Acura: Unveiling the History behind Honda's Performance Division

Jul 2, 2023

The Legacy of Acura: Unveiling the History behind Honda's Performance Division

Acura offers the quality and reliability of Honda with the touch of their performance boost and business-tier interior comfort. Acura is prominent in North American market, though lags significantly in European market; where Mercedes and BMW dominate the luxury car market.

For car enthusiasts who want to learn about the origins and evolution of Honda’s premium brand Acura, this blog post is for you. Acura is a luxury vehicle division of Japanese automaker Honda, launched in the United States in 1986. Today, the Acura brand represents a stylish line of high-performance sedans, SUVs, and crossover vehicles. However, the brand’s past is dotted with ups and downs, shifts in internal management and strategy, and lessons that have shaped its success in the present day.

In this blog post, we delve into the history of Acura and uncover the factors that shaped this iconic brand.

The Journey Begins

Luxury automotive market in both US and Europe during 80s were dominated by German brands, especially Mercedes and their luxury sub-brand Maybach.

In 1981, after encountering success in the Japanese market, Honda decided to enter the luxury automotive market. Its aim was to compete with premium German cars such as BMW and Mercedes. Meanwhile, in the United States, the luxury automotive market was dominated by German brands, and American domestic automakers were unable to compete. Capitalizing on the market gap, Honda unveiled the Acura badge in 1986 as a brand that embodied high-performance, luxury, and reliability.


Up’s and Down’s

Honda tried to go toe-to-toe with Ferrari by developing Acura HSC Concept, a sportscar design that was a further development of Acura NSX. Though HSC only remained as a concept, NSX sales gradually declined in 2000s; this was a wake up call for Honda to halt their attempt at trying to overthrow European Sportscar brands in North American market.

Acura enjoyed a successful run in its first 20 years in the market. It had a focus on precision engineering and innovative luxury features that attracted car enthusiasts and fans alike. Throughout the 1990s, Acura was the luxury car of choice for celebrities and affluent professionals in America. It enjoyed continued success into the 2000s with continued innovation, and the introduction of flagship models like the MDX, TSX, and RDX.


However, the late 2000s and 2010s saw Acura hit major blocks due to weak brand identity and confusing marketing. Acura vehicles began to receive criticism that they had lost the spirit of the original Acura and that some models looked too similar to their Honda counterparts.


2017's NSX focused on the new market trend of hybrid sports cars instead of competing with already rooted European brands. This approach also reflected itself on the other models of Acura, where brand focused on new market trends.

As a way of reinventing and distancing itself from Honda, Acura launched the “Precision Crafted Performance” initiative in 2016. The brand introduced the Acura Precision Concept, which would inspire the forthcoming Acura design language. The first model to represent this new era was the Acura NSX, produced between 2017 and 2020, which received sufficent sales due to its hybrid engine and top-level performance. Since then, Acura has continued this strategy of revamping its lineup with luxurious and appealing designs.

Innovative Approach

Like all brands in US market, Acura has recently focused on Crossovers. Since these types of cars are classified differently, their regulations are looser than standart consumer cars.

Today’s Acura vehicles sport cutting-edge technology such as state-of-the-art driver assistance features, touch screen displays, and advanced connectivity options. Acura also focuses on differentiating its brand from Honda by using dynamic styling and designing vehicles with a sporty and aggressive edge. From high-performance cars like the Acura NSX and Type S variants to SUVs like the new RDX and MDX models, Acura has kept its focus on creating well-engineered and stylish cars that satisfy drivers' desire for speed and luxury.

Acura has undergone many shifts over the years. The Acura brand has undergone a metamorphosis, evolving from a division of Honda to a world-class luxury automotive icon. With its unique blend of Japanese innovation, performance, and style that mix tradition with innovation, Acura will continue to be a brand that represents the pinnacle of automotive excellence. We are excited to see what the future holds for this renowned car brand and what new innovations they will bring to the world of performance cars.