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Auto blogTue, 11 Mar 2014 13:30:00 EST
Every major automaker has a different way of relating between its various divisions and brands. At Volkswagen, for example, the individual brands seem to operate with a large degree of autonomy. Under the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the two units share a common chief executive, but little else. The relationship between Honda and its luxury division Acura has always been rather close, but that's all about to change.
American Honda Motor Company has always handled sales and marketing in the North American market for both the Honda and Acura divisions, but new reorganization plans call for the two units to be separated under their own direction. Leading the Acura division will be Michael Accavitti, who moves into the position from his role as Senior Vice President for Auto Operations at American Honda. The Honda division will meanwhile be taken over by the current head of Acura sales, Jeff Conrad.
Both will report to John Mendel, the current executive vice president of the Automobile Sales Division that is being rebranded as the American Honda Auto Division. Unlike rivals Lexus and Infiniti - two brands that Acura beat to the market - Honda barely markets its luxury brand outside of North America. Its overseas presence is felt only in China, though we've yet to receive word on how the reorganization might effect that market - or for that matter, any potential of expanding into others.
The Acura Integra (pictured above in Type R trim) was one of the definitive vehicles of the Acura brand in the US, having joined the Legend at the marque's birth here. However, since the retirement of the RSX, the luxury arm of Honda has lacked a compact, sporty coupe to fill that niche. There appears to be a chance of that absence possibly coming to an end in the coming years, though.
Acura lead designer Dave Marek spoke to Car and Driver during the SEMA Show and said, "A performance brand needs a flagship and it needs an accessible sport car. Not a sports car, but a sport car." However, he also suggested that a new model wouldn't be spinning its tires too soon, at least not before 2017 by his indication.
While the vague possibility of a new sports coupe is still years away, Acura is taking its early steps in a brand revitalization campaign that includes spinning the luxury arm further away from Honda. The strong initial sales of the TLX are certainly a good start, but the work appears to just be beginning, according to Marek. "There are changes coming, and then there are more changes coming," he said to Car and Driver.
Acura hasn't done a whole lot with its aging TL line in recent years, the sedan only getting a very mild refresh for the 2012 model year. And while we don't see that changing anytime soon (as we reported earlier, the car is likely going to be replaced with a new TLX sedan that will serve as the replacement for both it and the smaller TSX), Acura is offering this new 2013 Special Edition TL, priced from $37,405 *plus $895 in destination fees.
The new TL SE slots in just above the base model and below the TL with Technology Package in terms of pricing, but offers a bit more in the way of added content. Special Edition features include unique 10-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels, a body-colored decklid spoiler and the appropriate SE badging. Keyless entry with pushbutton start is also standard on the Special Edition model, and the whole package is available in four exterior colors - Bellanova White, Crystal Black, Graphite Luster and Silver Moon - all with a dark leather interior.
Acura will offer the Special Edition with the TL's base engine, a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 good for 280 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Special Edition is on sale now, and you can peruse all the other official details in Acura's press blast below.