AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Acura has confirmed that the next-generation RL flagship luxury sedan will make its world premiere at the New York International Auto Show in April. The car will continue to use a V6 engine, but will gain a hybrid component and use direct-injection as well as an innovative new all-wheel drive system referred to as Sport Hybrid SH-AWD – similar to that showcased on the NSX Concept.
Using a V6 hybrid engine up front to power the front wheels, the system will also make use of two electric motors in the rear, individually powering each wheel. The new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system takes the RL’s current all-wheel setup and transforms it into an electronic system, removing the mechanical components and replacing them with an electronic version. Mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission the result will be an engine that delivers V8 power with the fuel economy of a 4-cylinder we are told by Acura Canada senior product planner Emile Korkor.
We were treated to a few renderings of the RL at Honda Canada headquarters and while we can’t share any images with you we can say it certainly has some similarity to the current car, but with a more rear-drive design and large rear fenders – similar to styling cues shown in the new ILX. As for the size of the vehicle, Acura says it will be essentially share dimensions with the current RL, but will gain substantially on the interior. “Think of it as the interior of a 7 Series with the outside space of a 5 Series” said Korkor, stating that the RL will add roominess but not remove the soul of Acura. In addition Acura feels that the size of the RL, not to mention the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system, will help deliver mid-size agility.
No details on engine power or output were provided, but Acura did confirm the RL’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system will not be standard.
Known for its technology innovations, Honda’s R&D efforts have been somewhat lackluster as of late. The Japanese automaker appears to have turned a corner, however, announcing a long list of new engines and technologies.
Easily the most revolutionary is an electric SH-AWD system that will be paired with a new V6 hybrid powertrain and 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Essentially an evolution of the current mechanical Super Handling all-wheel drive found in models like the Acura RL and TL it uses two independent electric motors at the rear wheels, each producing 20 kW, operating independently of the front gasoline engine and hybrid system. Like the current SH-AWD system it can deliver more power to the outside wheel in a corner for maximum cornering performance – but there’s more. Rather than simply limit the power sent to the inside wheel in a corner, the system actually generates electricity at that wheel, sending it to the outside wheel. A car fitted with this new two-mode hybrid system would also be capable of an electric only acceleration at speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph).
Honda claims this setup delivers V8-like power and acceleration at fuel economy levels as good as or better than current four-cylinder engines. When questioned, engineers on hand at a demonstration event at Twin Ring Motegi commented that we should expect fuel economy to be roughly 30 percent better than a similar V6. Taking the Honda Accord as an example, the current model achieves a 20/30 mpg city/highway rating, so we can expect a a future product equipped with this system to deliver roughly 26/39 mpg – although that number is likely optimistic as a future product would most certainly weigh more than an Accord (this technology is destined for an Acura model), plus there’s the all-wheel drive factor.
The real focus, however, is on delivering performance with reduced fuel economy, a hybrid philosophy similar to that of Lexus. To emphasize this fact, Honda has developed it’s own 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Prototype models available to drive were absent of any self-shifting feature (be it with the gearshift or paddle shifters) but the use of such setups in a production model is highly likely.
So where will we see this impressive new technology? As usual, Honda was coy on specifics, but representatives present did indicate that the new E SH-AWD will arrive in a future Acura model – with the next-generation RL an obvious choice.
GALLERY: Electric SH-AWD Prototype
A slew of new product info and rumors have popped up, detailing big (and little) changes across Acura’s product portfolio. Updates are planned for the TL, while the there’s more news about the new sub-TSX model, as well as a new direction for Acura’s flagship RL.
Starting with the new small sedan, a source tells TempleofVtec that the design will be “edgy” yet the car will be affordable – hinting that this might just be the next generation of the Civic-based CSX (currently sold in Canada). The car will reportedly also be offered as a gasoline model and a hybrid and was described as an “aggressive IS350.”
As a RWD model is out of the question from Honda, we’re really hoping for an AWD car with the impressive 2.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder from the RDX. We won’t hold our breath though.
As for the RL, Acura may have finally figured out a space for the car in the marketplace, choosing not to peg it against other flagships like the S-Class, 7 Series or Lexus LS, but rather against a new line of coupe-styled luxury sedans. In other words, the next-generation Acura RL would be a Mercedes CLS rival. There’s a strong possibility Honda will debut a new full-hybrid system in this car, mated to a V6 engine an using it’s SH-AWD system.
In more down-to-earth news, the TL is slated to get a 6-speed automatic transmission that should help improve fuel economy, while the overall design will be toned down, 19-inch wheels made standard and several new technology items offered.