May 11, 2012
Article by Jonathan Yarkony;
Photos courtesy Acura
This just in from the entertainment desk: Acura is claiming that 12 percent of The Avengers‘ success at the box office is because of the cameo appearance of the NSX.
Just a little joke for those of you who have been to see Marvel’s The Avengers already. In truth, the NSX convertible’s cameo as Tony Stark’s “driving off into the sunset” vehicle is too brief to give anything but a slight taste of Acura’s future products, and even as the official vehicles of S.H.I.E.L.D., the TL sedan and MDX crossover show up only momentarily and are quickly swallowed by the mayhem and violence of an introductory chase scene. The only other notable appearance of an Acura vehicle is a rather awkward ground shot of the RDX as New York is being inundated with the creepy alien minions of the Norse god, Loki, who is also essentially an alien with godlike powers. Yeah, it’s a bit far-fetched as a storyline for my tastes, but in the world of comic books, I guess anything goes. I think the far more realistic human villains of Batman’s Dark Knight series resonate more deeply with audiences. At least the Avengers themselves are a nice mix of super powers and all-too human character traits.
So why is Acura so gung-ho in promoting its association with the Avengers? Even though the vehicles are nowhere near the centre of attention as were the Camaro and other vehicles in the Transformers movies, Acura targeted Marvel’s The Avengers as the ideal association for their brand renaissance, and in particular, Tony Stark as Iron Man as portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. The billionaire playboy philanthropist genius descriptor is a bit of a reach for Acura (or as a target customer for any car in their lineup except the NSX), but the extraordinary results from the integration of machine and man reflect Acura’s desire to produce cars (yes, cars, moreso than trucks) that capture moments of indelible joy through the application of technology in an intuitive and emotional design. Acura also took the opportunity to preview a series of upcoming commercials that aim to highlight the emotional appeal of Acura products.
The NSX sure punches all of those emotional and technological buttons (and I’ll take a leap of faith in predicting that the driving experience too will be transcendental). But Acura’s launch of the ILX and RDX don’t exactly live up to the expectations that Acura is putting forth. A compact luxury vehicle with dated powertrains, the top-spec engine pulled from the Civic Si and available only with a manual transmission? Not gonna cut it. A compact crossover without even the full, torque-vectoring version of Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive and the only significant advance being adaptive dampers? Upsizing the engine from a turbo-four that was ahead of its time to a V6, when most manufacturers are going the other way to meet stricter emissions regulations and improve fuel efficiency while still increasing power and only now moving up to a six-speed auto when many manufacturers are moving up to seven and eight gears? Disappointing on paper, though perhaps redeemed by a sublime driving experience. I can’t speak for myself, but if Paul Williams’ driving impressions in his First Drive of the RDX are anything to go by, they’re not quite out of the woods yet.