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 automaker status, but unfortunately the poor state of the economy has thrown a spanner into the works.

The biggest victim was a planned a replacement for the NSX supercar, which was officially canned last December despite development work being nearly complete. The vehicle was to feature a 600 horsepower V-10 engine and be a rival to cars like the Ferrari F430, Nissan GT-R and upcoming Lexus LF-A.

Another kick in the guts for performance fans was the cancelation of a new rear-wheel-drive V-8 program.

Not all is lost, however, as these programs have been shelved for now but may be resurrected if the economy picks up.

As for the rest of the lineup, Acura will be adopting a new focus on fuel economy rather than performance as a way to differentiate itself in the luxury segment. Some of the highlights of company’s product plans for the 2010-12 model years are listed below.

Acura is currently considering a compact car replacement for its RSX, which could arrive in time for the 2012 model year if designers borrow the platform from the next-generation Honda Civic. This could be followed by a new CL coupe, though there are no plans as yet for such a vehicle.

The next-generation RL was expected to arrive in time for the 2011 model year and sport the company’s new rear-wheel-drive V-8 platform. Instead, Acura is likely to stick with the current model’s V-6 and front-wheel-drive design.

Both the RDX the MDX have been updated for the 2010 model year and will have to continue on until redesigned versions appear in 2012. Late this year, Acura will also be adding the all-new ZDX crossover to its lineup.

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