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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
TruthAboutCars


Today, TTAC was treated to what might be the first look at Acura’s newest flagship. While we saw renderings of the new car, we weren’t allowed to take photographs – but none of the information released was embargoed.

The look of the next RL can best be described as a current TL mated with a Hyundai Genesis. The overall design is still distinctly Acura, though the rear of the car has a very strong Hoffmeister kink and an overall profile similar to the Genesis or Equus, including a very short rear deck. The taillights echo the Buick Lacrosse – while it sounds unappealing on paper, the design as a whole is not unattractive, just extremely conservative.

The new car is said to be about the size of a 5-Series but with the interior space of a 7-Series. Powertrain details didn’t go much further beyond a V6 of undisclosed displacement, a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox and Acura’s SH-AWD system (previewed on the Accord prototype seen in the above photograph) that uses 2 electric motors in the rear rather than a mechanical linkage to deliver power to the rear wheels and vector torque amongst the left and right rear sides. Acura officials said that the system would not be standard on the new flagship, even though the new technology will be a showpiece for Acura’s new direction as a brand.

Unless Acura has some new super-secret RWD architecture that nobody knows about, the new flagship will have to have an FWD variant. Acura officials wouldn’t comment on the matter, so we’ll have to wait until April’s New York Auto Show for the definitive answer.
 

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At next week’s 2012 New York Auto Show we will be treated with a thinly-veiled concept version of the next-generation Acura RL, which is expected to go on sale before the end of the year as a 2013 model.

2 different versions of this new RL will eventually be offered to customers: a regular V-6 model and a gasoline-electric hybrid model packing a detuned version of the advanced drivetrain pegged for the new NSX supercar due in showrooms sometime in the next three years.

We were given a preview of the new hybrid drivetrain at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, where it was announced that it would appear in the next-generation NSX.

However, Honda president Takanobu Ito has since confirmed to Automotive News (subscription required) that the next-generation RL will also feature the hybrid drivetrain in an attempt to boost the brand’s technological credentials.

"The technology has outstanding handling," Ito said. "The thinking behind the RL and NSX systems is the same, but the NSX's will be more sports car focused."

The design utilizes 3 electric motors in total, 2 powering 1 axle and a 3rd integrated with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and gasoline V-6 that will power the alternating axle. Powering the 3 electric motors will be a central lithium-ion battery.

The key difference between the RL and NSX drivetrains will be the layout. In the RL, the gasoline V-6 and integrated electric motor component will be mounted up front and power the corresponding front axle. In the NSX, the gasoline V-6 and electric motor will be mounted in a mid-engine position and power the rear axle.

Both cars, however, are expected to benefit from multiple driving modes, including electric- or gas-only modes, plus a hybrid mode calling on both electric and gas power. The latter will offer drivers all-wheel drive capability, or as Acura likes to call it “Super Handling All-Wheel Drive” (SH-AWD), as power will be sent to both axles.

In a separate report, Acura is claimed to be exploring the use of ZF’s latest 9-speed automatic transmission technology. Automobile, citing an inside source, said Acura may adopt the 9-speed automatic as early as 2014 as an alternative to its existing automatic, CVT and dual-clutch units.

Fortunately, we won't have to wait too long now for the reveal of the 2013 Acura RL as press days for the 2012 New York Auto Show commence on April 4.
 
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