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Acura's Dave Marek: Future Brand Styling Will "Go Farther"

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/10/2014 Zach Gale
2015 Acura TLX Galpin Auto Sports Concept© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Acura TLX Galpin Auto Sports Concept

It starts with the color blue. As Acura attempts to expand its reach among luxury buyers, the brand's next step may be embodied in the visually arresting Andaro Blue paint on the TLX concept by Galpin Auto Sports (GAS). Debuting at the 2014 SEMA Show, the modified TLX is bold for an Acura, but subtle in a show also featuring a Camaro with 34-inch wheels and an 850-hp Camry "Sleeper" dragster. We talked with Acura global creative director Dave Marek about how the TLX SEMA concept came together and what the show car indicates about the brand's future direction.

Marek, who is responsible for Acura design around the world, says that the new Acura signature color seen on the SEMA concept could be adapted to a non-show car.

"It's production ready, and ... the process is more intensive than say, a Civic," Marek notes of the three-stage Andaro Blue paint. "It's not easy to do, but it's worth it."

In fact, getting that paint right comprised two-and-a-half weeks of the show car's two-month build process. Offering an extra-cost color like that on a TLX could happen, but expect to only see it on the more sporty editions of cars such as the TLX and ILX, the 2016 version of which debuts later this month at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. Having a signature color potentially available on certain models of future Acuras could help owners feel more special about their cars.

2015 Acura TLX Galpin Auto Sports Concept© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Acura TLX Galpin Auto Sports Concept "The next round of styling will be more premium-brand, performance feeling, and more noticeable," Marek says. Without compromising the brand's core strengths, Marek believes Acura can give customers "a little more style."

Even some customers who love their cars, Marek explains, wish they were a bit bolder. Without going over the top, Marek admits "we have the opportunity to go farther."

And, oddly enough, one of the first examples of that effort could come with visible exhaust outlets. The TLX by GAS has a polarizing bold lower rear fascia with integrated dual exhaust outlets. No current Acura has visible exhaust outlets, because some consumers think of them as "old-school," yet Acura drivers are requesting them across the lineup.

2015 Acura TLX Galpin Auto Sports For 2014 SEMA Rear Sketch© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Acura TLX Galpin Auto Sports For 2014 SEMA Rear Sketch "You want to be modern and you want to feel tech-y, but you also want to ... please the customer and want to feel performance."

So if Acura were to introduce a sportier variant of one of its cars in the next few years, don't be surprised to once again see visible exhaust outlets and the option of an Andaro Blue-like paint, with some matching interior accents.

We're not yet sold on the TLX show car's distinctive rear spoiler, but compared to the first versions designers experimented with that were nearly as tall as the one on the TLX GT race car (pictured below), it's been dialed down a bit. Though Marek feels the overall feel of the show car's design is perfect, perhaps if the two teams had more time, he wouldn't mind seeing the front match more with the back.

Acura TLX GT Race Car On Track© Provided by MotorTrend Acura TLX GT Race Car On Track In front, piano black trim Marek describes as more sinister and tough-feeling than the stock chrome also add to the appeal of the show car, which had no engine or interior modifications.

"This is a way to get people to go, 'Huh, I didn't realize you could do that with a TLX,'" Marek says.

While Marek and Acura look to the future of the brand's design, he points to the 2004 TL sedan and the original NSX as cars that really connected with customers.

2015 Acura TLX Galpin Auto Sports For 2014 SEMA Front Sketch© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Acura TLX Galpin Auto Sports For 2014 SEMA Front Sketch "We can do that. We always have. We're that brand -- people just forgot."

As we've been hearing for a while now, people will likely remember once the new NSX eventually debuts. "When it comes," Marek says, "it's going to be spectacular."

And the TLX show car by GAS? Galpin owns it, but the concept's designer, Doug Breuninger, is interested in buying it. As Acura evolves its design language over the next few years, Marek should hope to capture the same level of interest from an increasing number of luxury buyers around the world.

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