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Acura Debuting RLX Sport Hybrid with SH-AWD in LA

Version of 3-motor hybrid system to also power new NSX.

by on Nov.01, 2013

Acura's RLX adopts a new, 3-motor hybrid drive.

Acura will introduce its new high-performance hybrid system at the L.A. Auto Show this month.  The through-the-road all-wheel-drive system will make its first appearance on the Acura RLX luxury sedan but will follow, in slightly modified form, on the reborn Acura NSX set to reach market by 2015.

The Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD will become the new flagship of the Honda luxury brand’s line-up and, the maker claims, will deliver a blend of “V-8-like performance with 4-cylinder fuel economy,” in this case up to 30 miles per gallon in the combined city/highway cycle. It also promises more sure-footed handling, with the ability to direct torque, as needed, to improve cornering.

The Last Word!

The new version of the RLX will debut the latest of three new hybrid drivetrains developed by Honda to replace its original Integrated Motor Assist, or IMA system.  Each is targeted at a particular segment of the market, from the low-cost single-motor system in the Honda Civic to the new twin-motor drive of the 2014 Accord to the new 3-motor hybrid that will be focused on the Acura brand.

An Acura NSX prototype -- shown here in testing -- will adopt a version of the new 3-motor hybrid drive.

In the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD model – and later, in a hybrid version of the Acura MDX – the vehicle will draw primary power from a 3.5-liter SOHC direct-injected i-VTEC V-6.  That gasoline engine will be directly paired with a single motor linked to the front axle through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.  Two additional motors will be linked to the rear axle.

(Click Here to check out the review of the new 2-motor Honda Accord Hybrid.)

The package can produce a combined maximum of 377 horsepower, according to Honda, and will be able to shift torque not only from front to rear axles but from left to right, a process known as torque vectoring. This has the advantage over conventional all-wheel-drive systems — which tend to push into corners – by being able to use torque to actually help steer through a turn.

A variation of the RLX Sport Hybrid system will be introduced with the upcoming return of the Acura NSX.  But, in this case, the mid-mounted gasoline engine and a single motor will be powering the back axle.  The two additional motors will be driving the front wheels. That should produce an even more aggressive torque vectoring approach, and as with traditional supercars, primary power will still come from the rear wheels.

(Acura lands in third place in the new Consumer Reports auto reliability survey. Click Here for the full story.)

The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD will be unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show on November 20th, with sales to begin shortly afterwards.  Acura introduced the original RLX model in Los Angeles at last year’s show. The current model is equipped with what Acura has dubbed P-AWS, short for Precision All-Wheel Steer, and makes 310 horsepower out of its V-6 gas engine.

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