You’d think some summer-blowout ad for the Acura TLX would be the usual, ignorable car-on-winding-road-with-VO boringness we’ve all grown the special ability to tune out. Acura has cleverly combated this by making their ads so full of subtly inane horseshit that it forces you to pay attention. To the stupid.
Here, so we’re all on the same page, this is the ad. Go ahead and watch:
So let’s just start right at the beginning. What do we see? A car, happily tearing ass down a winding California mountain road. It looks like a fantastic afternoon drive, and it’s got to be at least an hour’s drive from downtown wherever. So far so good.
You may have also noticed the chiron text that reads TLX: ROAD TEST. We then cut to inside the car, where we see an Acura-shirted employee, who we assume is the car salesman, and this is, as the text told us, the road test. Of the TLX.
This is our first little sampling of horseshit, a sort of hors’douvreshit, if you will. Because this is one wildly improbable test drive. So, the guy walks into the dealership, and the salesman suggests, hey, I have an idea: why not call into work and take the rest of the day off and we’ll drive this TLX an hour or so into the mountains! I know a great little place up there where we can get dinner, and I saw there was a meteor shower tonight — let’s make a night of it! This is gonna be great!
Of course, I get why they did it here — it just looks better, and that trumps thinking about what the hell is going on with a car salesman that takes potential buyers on multi-hour, high-speed test drives into the nearest mountains.
Okay, so that’s forgivable. But it’s what comes next that really gets me. The Acura guy then says this remarkable monologue:
Punch it. You feel that? That’s the i-VTEC at work! It regulates the intake and the exhaust valves to optimize performance at any RPM!
... and then the guy driving says
Now, here’s my problem with all this. It’s horseshit. Possibly bullshit, too. I mean, you can feel a lot of things while driving a car — you can feel power, torque, how the car’s weight is shifting, grip on the road, feel through the steering wheel, the wind against the body — driving is absolutely a full sensory experience.
But I cannot, even for a second, manage to convince myself that I can ‘feel’ variations in valve timing and duration in an engine going 3000+ RPM. What, exactly, is the driver supposed to be feeling, when the guy asks if he ‘feels that?”
Is he supposed to be driving and suddenly feel a Force-like shiver down his spine and instantly know that the exhaust valve in cylinder 3 has been held open .0003 seconds longer than in the last revolution of the crank, to assist in scavenging out some leftover products of combustion?
“Fuck, did you feel that? That intake valve in cylinder one is going nuts!” First it opens sooner, then it snaps shut — holy crap. I love this!”
Maybe this is just the most pedantic, convoluted way of telling us the engine makes good power, and has good acceleration? I mean, it’s not bad, as such — 206 HP from a non-turbo four is impressive, but it’s hardly neck-snapping.
The real issue here is stupid commercials like this throw out a bunch of useless jargon the average buyer is going to have no idea what to do with, and then it sets up an expectation that, somehow, when driving these cars, you’re supposed to be able to feel things like variable valve timing systems deep in your gut.
And that’s horseshit.
This sort of crap is just going to make more insecure car buyers who think they can’t feel or discern things that they’ve been convinced everyone can, or its going to make know-it-all jackasses convince themselves they can feel valve timing and spark plug firings and the discreet sprays of fuel into individual cylinders, which will then lead to many painful lectures to friends and loved ones trapped in the car with them.
And, just to put a nice big turd cherry on this crap-sundae, we get this:
See what’s happening there? The driver hits the + paddle, and then we cut to the revs going up on the tach. Maybe Acura is trying for that new convention where + means ‘lower’ and - means ‘higher,’ and also D means ‘Drive Backward’ and R means ‘Resume Forward Travel.’
Oh, Acura. I don’t mean to keep picking on you. I want to see you make great, interesting cars and engaging ads and have all the success in the world. Really!
But this shit, please. Knock it off, already, with the feeling the valves in your genitals and all that crap.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.