Jason Widmer has one cool job.
Dreaming up designs for the next generation of automobiles, then spending years to fine tune that design and working out the engineering to bring it to market and traveling the country talking about it.
Widmer has spent the last six years or so working with a team on design that Acura is now introducing this year: the ZDX.
Widmer was in Atlanta in late April to talk to members of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association at a luncheon at the W Hotel in downtown Atlanta.
The ZDX sports coupe has a 3.7-liter, V6 engine and what’s described in press material as “Super Handling All Wheel Drive” and “Drive by Wire Throttle System.” Prices range from $45,495 and $56,045, depending on the trim package.
Designed in California and engineered in Ohio, the ZDX is Acura most American made vehicle, according to Widmer, the ZDX’s principal engineer.
He described the vehicle as sleek and edgy and fun to drive.
But long before the engineers starting playing with concepts and designs, they gathered information from those they viewed as potential customers. From their research they determined that there is a new segment in the automotive market.
“People wanting utility attributes but looking for something a little different,” said Widmer, who designed these individuals as active, affluent and well traveled. He said many of these potential customers are moving from large SUVs due to changes in family size and lifestyle, however, they still desire to have a roomy vehicle. And although the ZDX is a five-passenger vehicle, Widmer explained that emphasis was directed toward the driver and front-seat passenger.
For the exterior design, Widmer said the team was attempting to make the vehicle look dynamic “aggressive” and “ready to pounce” and “in motion even when” standing still. Among the vehicle’s dynamic features are rear door handles that are concealed in the door design and a glass roof that stretches from the windshield to the rear window. Acura claims it’s the world’s longest panoramic glass roof on a car.
For the interior, the team drew inspiration from severe hotels they visited around the world, explained Widmer, adding that just like in the finest hotels there’s a place for everything. Side panels in the back storage area pop down and there’s a hidden storage space below the floor. The ZDX has a sculpted, leather-wrapped concave-shaped dashboard, ambient lighting from 122 LED lights, looped carpet and power roller sunshades. The design team found just the right process for the sculpted leather dashboard in Hungary. To add to the coupe’s dramatic interior look, all the instrumentation on the dashboard is blacked out when not in use, he added.