Never heard of the Los Angeles Auto Show? You're not alone. You'd typically find a Honda Optional Equipment-equipped Element SC or an AEM-styled Ridgeline. Maybe. But in 2006, the L.A. show moved up its schedule to the beginning of December-one month clear of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit-and officially anointed itself as the opening act for the annual auto show season.
Honda unveiled two major concepts in Los Angeles, while Acura had one. It was an international effort. Two designs came from Honda's new Advanced Design studio in Pasadena. The Step Bus-inspired by the phrase "Man maximum, machine minimum"-came from Japan. Go figure.
Acura Advanced Sedan Concept
There's something gangsta about the Acura Advanced Sedan Concept. With a massively wide stance and sharp edges, it's designed to explore the edges of performance and luxury. It's dark and mysterious, yet reeks of capital gains. Think Scarface meets Blade Runner.
Although the Advanced Sedan Concept is clearly a pure design exercise, there is some basis in the current reality at Acura. The sharp edges are an evolution of Acura's recent move toward sculpted surfaces. The concept sits low to the ground with 22-inch wheels in front and 23-incher in back. Large ducts provide direct cooling to the brakes. The roof is made entirely of tinted glass, a feature that Honda has played around with for a while.
"We wanted to capture the essence of an ultra luxurious sedan, but give it a striking, mysterious presence to create a vehicle with a dual personality," said Dave Marek, the chief designer at Honda R&D Americas in California. "The concept echoes this quality with its clean exterior lines, a wide stance, high performance cues and key luxury accents."
Can a two-seater sports car be a fun-to-drive and a reasonable daily driver? That's what the Honda Remix concept was created to answer.
Purely a design concept, the Remix is fashioned around a front-wheel-drive, small car platform. It features a four-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual transmission, a sport suspension and aggressive tires and brakes. A wrap-around canopy-inspired by fighter jets-gives a crossover feel to the Remix, which was designed to maximize cargo room.
"The Remix blends familiar Honda themes into a new, fresh design," said Ben Davidson, the lead designer on the Remix. "Smooth and fluid surfaces provide a sports car identity to the geometric shapes that form the functional aspect of this vehicle."
The Remix is the latest link in a chain that began with early Honda two-seaters, like the S600 and Beat and continued with the S2000. Speaking of which, might the Remix be an early indicator of the future direction of the S2000? Maybe.
Honda Step Bus Concept
Will we ever see a mid-engine Step Van? Probably not, but that's what's so cool about concept cars. The mid-engine Honda Step Bus Concept was built to be the "provide ultimate urban utility"-whatever that is. There are sliding front doors to enable ingress and egress in tight spaces. We're just psyched to be able to use the words "ingress" and "egress". Irony is optional.
The interior was designed to be adaptable and roomy enough to hold mucho musical equipment, sports gear and other bulky items. "Following the traditional Honda theme of 'man maximum, machine minimum,' the Step Bus seeks to create the largest possible interior with the smallest possible exterior," said John Mendel, senior vice president of American Honda.
Purely a styling concept, the rear-wheel drive Step Bus has room for five in an interior based on modular construction. Tracks in the door can hold beverage containers and cell phones. And the tall body allows room for a ceiling-mounted storage tray.