Acura Press Conference Remarks: 2014 New York International Auto Show
Senior Vice President & General Manager
We began the year in Detroit, by taking the wraps off of the 2015 Acura TLX prototype.
Today, we take to another big stage in New York City to showcase the production model as we prepare to take the exciting all-new TLX to market.
But first, I want to share some perspective on the important and exciting developments we recently announced related to the Acura brand.
We are bringing some serious energy and resources to our efforts to advance the competitiveness of the Acura Brand.
This is one of the biggest priorities within our global organization.
And while it's a global strategy that will lead the future of Acura … much of that leadership will come from right here in North America.
This includes the establishment of the Acura Business Planning Office …
which will set the global direction for Acura product and business planning across R&D, production and purchasing.
Just to emphasize the point about local leadership, I should explain that this function will be led by the former President of Honda R&D Americas, Mr. Erik Berkman.
And one of his “right arms” … as the new Acura Global Creative Director …
is none other than Dave Marek, who most recently served as the division director of design for both the Honda and Acura brands here in America.
And in a few moments, I will introduce another leader of this team … when I bring out the TLX.
This new team has the clear responsibility to develop the best products and strategies for the Acura brand …
and with his past experience leading development of some iconic Acura products Erik is absolutely the best person for this role.
Now … in my new role leading the new Acura Division, I will be working closely with Erik and his team.
Some of you might be thinking … what's the big deal … didn't you already have separate divisions?
This is the first time we've had an exclusive division for the Acura brand with sales, marketing and service together.
The old organization structure led to some great success at Acura.
But we know that if you do what you did, you get what you have. At best.
And while what we have is good...
we need to make changes in order to achieve the challenging targets that we have set for ourselves to strengthen our brand and grow our sales.
This new direction will mean an even stronger focus and a more cohesive and strategic approach to our Acura business.
Our dealers are excited about it.
And so am I.
It's a new challenge and a great opportunity to fortify the Acura brand based on the product direction we began to establish a few years ago...
and that we've been sharpening with every new Acura vehicle launch.
This means more performance,
and more technological sophistication
… but done the Acura Way … centered around the human being … the driver …
and providing a more intuitive, thoughtful and instinctive driving experience that delivers a thrill like no other.
A uniquely Acura experience.
At the foundation of this experience are pinnacle performance technologies like Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive and Precision All-Wheel Steer.
After all, it was Acura that pioneered torque-vectoring all-wheel drive with our first generation SH-AWD system.
These super-handling technologies … and the new-driving experience that they deliver …
serve as the centerpiece of our future product direction, driving not only performance … but also design … and, of course, marketing.
All of this means that the timing couldn't be better for the launch of the all-new 2015 Acura TLX …
which will harness the power of both next-generation SH-AWD and Precision All-Wheel Steer to deliver an exhilarating new driving experience.
With its next-generation Acura super-handling technologies … this new TLX is an incredible performer …
a true world-class athlete …
quick, powerful, precise …
and always incredibly composed.
Built and bred to deliver a thrill like no other … Ladies and gentlemen … the all-new 2015 Acura TLX!!
With dynamic proportions that are low and wide, we leveraged our design and packaging expertise to create a very nimble and dynamic package …
Yet it still has a spacious and comfortable interior.
In fact, with comfortable seating for five adults … this all-new TLX is an incredibly quiet and refined luxury experience.
Of course, there will be many more vehicles to come that further define the Super Handling direction of the Acura brand.
But this new TLX lineup will serve as the backbone of the Acura sedan lineup...
delivering new levels of refined comfort, technological innovation and dynamic performance.
To tell you more about it … I'm going to invite to the stage …
literally a giant of a man … who is not only the chief engineer who led development of the new TLX.
He is a newly minted Vice President of Acura R&D, who will help oversee the development activities for future Acura models...
as part of the Acura Business Planning Office I mentioned a moment ago.
Please welcome, Mat Hargett.
Chief Engineer, 2015 Acura TLX
Thanks, Mike … and good afternoon everyone.
I'm excited to have this opportunity to tell you more about our all-new Acura TLX sports sedan.
Well, it's actually three sedans … that offer Acura customers a broader range of choices and more new technology than ever before.
There were a lot of things we wanted to accomplish with this new TLX … but I can summarize most of it with three concepts … dynamic design … incredible performance, and significant increase in premium feel.
In terms of dynamic proportions, the TLX is nearly 4 inches shorter than the TL … and all of it is taken out of the front and rear overhangs for a more dynamic stance.
The wheelbase stays the same, which allowed us to maintain the TL's spacious interior
For performance, we deployed a range of new technologies … two advanced Acura-exclusive engines, two all-new transmissions … and two new Acura super-handling technologies.
Let me explain how each of our three new vehicles delivers strongly on the “Super Handling” dynamic performance direction of the Acura brand.
We have two models featuring Precision All-Wheel Steer … the first one, behind me … is powered by a new 2.4-liter, 206-horsepower i-VTEC inline-4 with torque increased by up to 10% across the powerband.
And it's mated to an all-new 8-speed dual clutch transmission … the first DCT in the industry with a torque converter.
This powertrain is really magic, with amazingly quick and intuitive shifts, including rev-matching downshifts.
And the torque converter eliminates the jerky feel associated with many other DCTs … while also multiplying engine torque at launch.
This powertrain delivers a very direct and rhythmical feeling and sound.
And don't let the power-to-weight ratio of this car fool you.
The TLX is 1 ½ seconds faster 0-to-60 than the outgoing TSX.
The second model with P-A-W-S is powered by a 3.5-liter, 290-horsepower direct-injected i-VTEC V-6 and a new 9-speed transmission.
For the engine, we've increased torque by up to 15%, where the customer is really going to feel it.
And the 9AT puts the power down seamlessly.
Both the 2.4 and 3.5 utilize the next generation of our Precision All-Wheel Steer system to great effect.
With P-AWS we were able to develop a vehicle that's incredibly quick and responsive in sporty driving, but very stable and calm when you're cruising down the highway.
Like on city streets or even in a shopping mall parking lot, people are going to begin to understand the true potential of our four-wheel-steer technology.
The third model in the lineup is the TLX with next-gen Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive.
Acura pioneered torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive and we're advancing it again here.
The new system is compact and 25 percent lighter, with lower friction and expanded performance.
We redesigned the rear differential ... so now the rear wheels can spin up to 2.7% faster than the front wheels.
The system also responds faster, by starting torque vectoring as soon as the customer moves the steering wheel.
Sending torque sooner to the faster spinning rear outside wheel ... means the customer will feel torque vectoring on tighter radius corners at lower speeds like an intersection.
And for the first time … our SH-AWD sends torque to the rear inside wheel at high speeds.
This actually slows the chassis response down ... and gives us more stability during a highway lane change.
Each of these new TLX models delivers in a big way on the Super Handling dynamic direction of the Acura brand … providing outstanding low- to mid-speed agility together with greater stability at high speeds.
And each is customizable using our Integrated Dynamics System, which allows the driver to fine-tune the car's dynamic behavior by selecting one of four driving modes … including a new Sport-Plus mode … which unlocks the full performance potential of the TLX.
But as I said at the outset … incredible performance wasn't our only goal.
We also wanted a significant increase in premium feel … dynamically speaking, this is something we wanted the customer to experience in the first 50 feet.
The new body and chassis play a key role.
We significantly increased the body's torsional rigidity and mounting-point stiffness, in some places by up to 100%.
We also focused on greatly reducing cabin noise by tightly sealing the body. This is flat-out the quietest midsize sedan we've ever made.
While some of the new technologies added weight, ...we've applied almost 60% high strength, lightweight materials ... including hot stamp steel, aluminum and magnesium… So, even with the improved performance...we've actually reduced vehicle weight on some versions by more than 230 pounds... ...compared to the outgoing TL SH-AWD.
And we improved aerodynamic performance … with a 15 percent reduction in the CdA to best-in-class levels.
More efficient powertrains, reduced weight and improved aero means higher fuel efficiency.
Fuel economy on the 4-cylinder TLX is up 2 mpg city and 4 mpg highway over the smaller, less luxurious TSX.
For the V6 models, highway fuel economy is up 5 mpg over the outgoing TL.
This TLX also advances Acura's safety leadership.
This includes a new Road Departure Mitigation system that senses you are about to go off the road.
It then gives you multiple warnings … including pulling on the seatbelt.
And it actually starts braking and steering the car for the driver ...to help keep them on the road.
We also have an all-new forward camera that is applied to upper grades.
In addition to Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Keeping Assist ... this new camera works in coordination with a new radar system to provide enhanced car-to-car and car-to-pedestrian collision mitigation.
This system also improves adaptive cruise control functionality, ...by controlling vehicle speed until the vehicle is completely stopped.
Of course, collisions still happen and so we've applied the latest generation of our ACE Body Structure along with the hot-stamped, one-piece door stiffener ring that we first used on the new MDX … and we are targeting an NCAP five-star Overall Vehicle Score and IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK-PLUS rating.
On behalf of the TLX design and development team in Los Angeles, Ohio and Japan, I want to say how proud we are to have this new vehicle debut in NEW YORK.
This is one of the strongest markets in America for the Acura brand … and we think this new TLX is ready for the bright lights of Broadway … or the pure joy of a weekend getaway up to the Hudson Valley.
So, thanks for your time, and now I'll give the stage back to Mike.
Thank you, Mat.
Your team has done an incredible job of creating a new TLX that all of us who love to drive would be thrilled to have in our driveway.
In fact, to put a little exclamation mark on this outstanding new Acura sports sedan … we needed to find a way to put TLX through its paces … right here in the Javits Center.
When we introduced the TLX prototype in Detroit … we also revealed a new TLX GT car that Peter Cunningham will run on the Pirelli World Challenge Circuit this year..
I thought it might be interesting to hear a little more from Peter.
So, we've got him on video with some driving impressions.
Except he's not driving his new GT car.
He's behind the wheel of the 2015 TLX that our customers will be able to take home later this year.
Let's take a look.
[Run Cunningham Video]
Very fast and very calm behind the wheel...
Peter is the kind of guy you'd want waiting outside in the getaway car if you were ever to rob a bank.
And we can't wait to get all of you behind the wheel.
Thank you everyone for your time and attention here this afternoon.
Now, I'd like to invite Mat back on stage for a quick photo opp, and then please join us for a closer look at the new TLX.