Looking nearly identical to a Honda Accord, the 19-inch wheels and Michelin high performance rubber are a strong indication that something more impressive lurks underneath.
In fact, this prototype’s underpinnings are none other than the new flagship luxury sedan of the Acura
brand, the RLX.
Set to debut in just a few weeks at the LA Auto Show, we’ve been given the unique opportunity to test out some of the technological innovations of this new package during a trip to Honda’s R&D facility in Utsunomiya, Japan.
With plans to offer both a front-drive and all-wheel drive model, neither are conventional setups.
REAR-WHEEL STEERING TESTED
Fitted to the front-drive RLX is a new Precision All-Wheel Steer (which works out to the clever acronym of PAWS) system capable of turning the rear wheels for improved cornering performance and safety. A modified rear suspension setup features electronically controlled suspension arms that can adjust the wheel’s toe angle (essentially the direction of the wheels). What makes the system unique is that along with turning both wheels left or right, it can also “toe-in” both wheels to help improve vehicle stability under braking.
On track, the system’s benefits were immediately obvious with a low level of understeer for a front-driver of this size, especially at turn in and mid-corner. At corner-exit, however, it was possible to feel the rear-end align with the front wheels, helping straighten the vehicle out.
That sensation was only evident under hard cornering and while not quite unsettling, was certainly noticable.
Unfortunately the tight and windy test-track didn’t allow for any straight-line high-speed braking to test the toe-in feature, though slowing for corners the RLX certainly felt stable.