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With its flagship RL never much of a rival to traditional luxury saloons and its once hi-tech SH-AWD system now more commonplace in the industry, it’s no surprise that the car was a certifiable failure.
Unveiled today at the New York Auto Show, Acura has switched nomenclature to RLX for it’s big sedan, hoping to wow audiences with a purposeful hybrid system that works in tandem with a next-generation electric SH-AWD system.
Making “more than” 370 hp, Acura has mated a direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 engine with three electric motors. One motor works in unison with the V6 engine as a conventional hybrid drive, while two others power the rear wheels. As a result, the RLX now gets what Acura calls Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, allowing power to be distributed left to right in the rear to help the car rotate. A similar system, though with the gasoline in the rear, will be fitted to the next-generation NSX.
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.