On this year’s Los Angeles show guest list is the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD – the Japanese luxury carmaker says its “most powerful and technologically advanced” sedan to date will join the regular RLX in the line-up next year.
The full-size flagship marries a 3.5 litre direct-injected SOHC i-VTEC V6 to a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox and three high-output electric motors for a total system output of 377 hp and a combined EPA fuel economy of 7.8 litres per 100 km.
Although SH-AWD, or Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, first appeared in the second-gen Acura RL (or fourth-gen Honda Legend in Japan) as early as 2005, the car you see here is the first Acura to receive the 2012 evolution of the tech that’s known as Sport Hybrid SH-AWD.
You’ve heard about it on the upcoming NSX – there’s an electric motor at each rear wheel, independent of each other, which govern the distribution of torque between the rear left and right wheels to improve traction. The third electric motor assists the petrol engine independently, unlike the IMA system.
Positive and negative torque can be applied to each wheel; during cornering, the system can recover energy from the inside wheel and feed it to the motor on the outside wheel for more torque there, to push the vehicle into the turn.