The Type S concept that Acura is showing off at Monterey Car Week is basically the blueprint for the next-generation TLX sedan in its top-performance trim — minus some of the design flourishes that make it a concept.
"The Type S concept sets the stage for re-introducing Type S performance variants to the Acura lineup after a decade hiatus, and will heavily influence the character of the upcoming, second-generation TLX Type S," the company said in a statement.
Acura, which is harking back to its performance roots with edgier looks and go-fast parts, released images of the concept prior to its presentation at Monterey Car Week on Thursday. The next-generation TLX is likely to be shown in the coming months for sale as a 2021 model.
The production car will have door handles — unlike the concept — along with larger side mirrors and an interior similar to the redesigned RDX crossover, which last year became the brand's first mainstream model under the new design direction. Acura's remake began four years ago with the second-generation NSX supercar.
Acura designers say the concept to be shown in Monterey already has many of the engineering details worked out, suggesting the production car won't be far off in terms of overall design. The concept will also heavily influence a second vehicle with the reborn Type S trim, although Acura hasn't said which one.
"The return of Type S is instrumental in our mission to return Acura to its performance roots," said Jon Ikeda, Acura brand officer.
More recently, Acura brought back A Spec appearance trims, along with a new pentagon grille for all models. It also confirmed a new turbocharged six-cylinder engine is in the works for Type S models, excluding the low-volume NSX, which has a unique powertrain.
"I don't have the direct numbers to give you about the exact performance," Ikeda said at an event last week. "I guarantee you that just as exciting as these [Type S] vehicles were in the past, we are definitely going to have the performance upgrade, whether its brakes or handling or performance of the engine."
The luxury brand has said it will get down to four core vehicles: two sedans and two crossovers. The RLX full-size sedan is set to be discontinued given its poor sales. Moreover, Acura is refocusing on the NSX as its halo vehicle rather than a big sedan.
The Type S trims are seen as the bridge to link the NSX to the brand's more attainable models. The "brand pyramid" consists of the NSX at the top, followed by Type S performance trims, A Spec appearance trims and regular models.
Up next for a full redesign after the TLX are the MDX three-row crossover and ILX compact sedan. That will complete Ikeda's promise, in the short term, to bring Acura back to its roots as a brand that is deeply involved in racing and reflects that racing heritage in its vehicles.
"What we did promise our dealers and our enthusiast friends is that as we go back [to our roots] you're going to see a transformation happening to their brand through our products and designs, and not only through performance," Ikeda said. He promised that "big changes" in product are coming "very quickly."