Friday, January 24, 2014

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD

When the first Honda Insight beat the first Toyota Prius to market a decade and a half ago, Big H created a new vehicle segment in the U.S. and catapulted gas-electric vehicles into the mainstream. We probably don’t need to tell you that sales of such fuel sippers subsequently exploded or that the Prius became the darling of the segment, likely because it offered buyers the double bonus of having a back seat and not looking like a bionic tadpole
At the 2013 LA Auto Show, Acura have shown the 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, which the company say is the most powerful and technologically advanced Acura sedan ever made.
The RLX Sport Hybrid combines a 3.5-liter SOHC direct-injected i-VTEC V6 engine with three high-output electric motors. Combined, the Sport Hybrid produces 377 hp and Acura rates its fuel efficiency at 30 miles per gallon combined (12.75 km/l). A 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is offered as standard.
As a result, Acura says that the RLX combines V8-like performance with the efficiency of a four-cylinder engine. To continue the sporty theme, the RLX also gets a torque-vectoring system with Acura’s Super-Handling all wheel drive system (SH-AWD).
The Sport Hybrid would be positioned as the range-topping variant in the RLX lineup. Currently, the RLX range starts at USD 48,450 (INR 30.57 lakhs) and extends to USD 60,450 (INR 38 lakhs).
And it’s in the around-town driving where SH-AWD, like every AWD system, has its drawbacks. Its extra weight and drag means slower acceleration and more fuel consumption.
Until now. Honda has just solved those two dilemmas by taking the SH-AWD torque-vectoring philosophy and adding electricity. The system debuts on Acura’s new flagship, the RLX, and it’s called Sport Hybrid SH-AWD.
Up front, things change around a little. The front-drive RLX’s new 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 stays but earns revised cam profiles for smoother start/stop. The base car’s six-speed automatic is ditched in favor of Acura’s first dual-clutch auto. The unit, which is the same size as the automatic, also contains a 47 hp motor/generator that replaces both the starter and the alternator. And, of course, works to assist the V6’s output.
Energy is stored in a 66-lb, 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery stored over the rear wheels (and reducing trunk space considerably.) The battery is also connected to the TMU at the rear, the Twin Motor Unit, which is the most important piece in the new RLX.
Weighing only around 130 lbs, the device contains two 36 hp electric motors, each connected to a rear wheel. The system can operate the two motors independently, which means they can both accelerate the car or slow it down and regenerate electricity in the process. But they can do one thing no other hybrid-electric system can: continually vary the power of the wheels independently from one another.