Apart from Lexus, Japanese luxury brands still pale in comparison to their German rivals in terms of the number of models they produce and the prices they can command. Overall image in the marketplace and status on the street have likewise proven difficult to develop. That's why Acura is making a hard push specifically to boost its image and achieve 'tier 1' luxury carmaker status.

The Acura plan for becoming top-tier doesn't focus on the cars, however. "Being a premium luxury brand is not just about product. It's the way dealers handle customers. You've got to earn your way into the segment. You don't necessarily have to have a $90,000 sedan to get there," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co. in an interview with Automotive News.

But that doesn't mean that new, better cars aren't part of the plan. In fact, the door remains open on whether the NSX will eventually see production. The car's development is "mostly done" according to Colliver, and that means it would be a quick move to market if given the green light. The reasoning behind dropping the NSX plan in the first place was largely centered around the weak economy and Honda's plans to cut costs. If the market turns around, there's no reason not to bring the NSX out of mothballs.

More every-day cars will be part of the brand push as well. Acura previously announced its intent to move toward tier 1 status at a dealer conference last year, and has since been working toward that with its new model run. The first of these new models include the RL and TSX sedans, plus the new - though oft-maligned - 2009 TL.

If Acura is really serious about competing with brands like BMW and Mercedes it will also likely need to more premium options such as RWD powertrains and high-output engines - both of which make a strong argument for revival of the NSX program.

The next model likely to come from Acura won't be a RWD sedan or a next-gen supercar, however. Instead, it is likely to be a mid-sized crossover, fitting between the current RDX (read our review here) and MDX.