Honda FourTrax Rincon Styling and Design

9/1/2003 5:53:00 PM

The styling of a new Honda doesn't happen by chance, nor does it happen quickly. In fact, oft times the form and face of a landmark new model begins taking shape long before the engineering team launches into development of new hardware.

In the case of Honda's innovative Rincon, styling concepts and sketches began taking shape back in 1999, within the top-secret confines of Honda R&D Americas (HRA). There was no Rincon at that time; instead, this internal design study began a life of its own as a series of ideas and sketches aimed at exploring the outer limits of ATV styling and configuration for an undetermined future use.

With this project, the overarching direction consciously departed from the pure utility aspect of FourTrax design. More specifically, the design team's goal was to create a high-end ATV with a more refined look, featuring sporty styling that would offer a broader appeal to a wider-than-ever range of recreational riders. To that end, the HRA design team blended a number of innovative elements: a higher fender line for an airy, lighter look; strengthening bumps on the fenders that would also lend a modern and muscular appearance; full integration of bumpers, headlights and taillights to create a smoothly flowing line and style.

As one Senior Designer at HRA, explained, "We took the ATV away from a boxy, utility look and found a new balance favoring a distinctly sporty impression. As a parallel, look how Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) have evolved in the automotive marketplace over the past decade from a pure utility vehicle to upscale luxury status. Where you once had loggers and surveyors slogging personnel and equipment to the boonies in utility four-wheel-drives, you now have a couple going to the theater or a family driving to the mountains in comfort with their SUVs. In a similar manner, we wanted to create a new upscale kind of ATV. Today there's a large contingent of buyers who have created a new, wider spectrum of recreation applications for ATVs, and we wanted to expand that role.

"Our job here at HRA is to push the limits of design, and our ATV internal design study definitely accomplished that goal--which is to say, not every element that we experimented with made it into the final production-model Rincon. However, many of the styling elements that we worked with in sketches and clay mock-ups fit well within the final design. Look at the Rincon and you'll see many of the styling breakthroughs we defined in our design study. The body lines of the Rincon are very integrated, free flowing and refined. Also, elements such as the forged aluminum suspension are not only strong and light, but they also lend a very modern, high-tech appearance. These pieces look like components from an Acura NSX sports car, not an ATV.

"The direction we took with our design study matched up perfectly with the new path the Rincon is taking--a blend of recreation and utility use, with the larger emphasis on recreation. Granted, many people may very well end up using this new breed of sport-utility ATVs in work applications, and it's capable of fulfilling that role equally well. However, our goal was to offer a whole new look and new options in order to fulfill the emerging demands of a new market segment. ATV usage is evolving at a record pace, and I think we've helped Honda establish a new leadership position in this area."