Acura RLX Sport Hybrid-01

This is the new 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, the most powerful and technologically advanced Acura sedan yet (according to its maker) and the first model to apply Honda’s new three-motor Sport Hybrid system with electric SH-AWD (Sport Hybrid SH-AWD). It joins the standard RLX, which made its debut early this year as a MY2014 car.

The 5 Series/E-Class-rivalling RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD may not be an arresting sight, but it’s mechanically interesting. Under the hood is a direct-injected 3.5 litre V6 with 310 hp, paired to a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The DCT has a built-in motor-generator (47 hp) powering the front wheels, and there are two rear electric motors (36 hp each) powering the rear wheels.

All three motors capture kinetic energy during vehicle deceleration and braking, converting it to electricity to supply a 72-cell, 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack located behind the rear seatback. Total system output is 377 hp and 511 Nm of torque, which is a lot.

Acura RLX Sport Hybrid-16

The mechanically-based Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) isn’t new, but it now operates independent of the engine. Drawing power from the battery pack, the two rear electric motors deliver torque directly to the rear wheels, thereby eliminating the weight and energy losses associated with a conventional driveshaft and differential mechanism.

It’s like torque-vectoring AWD, but since it doesn’t rely on engine torque, electric SH-AWD can create a larger torque difference between the left and right rear wheels, even during small throttle applications, at low engine speeds or even during deceleration (such as during mid-corner lift off). This characteristic amplifies the positive handling benefits of SH-AWD across a much wider range of driving conditions.

Sounds good? We can confirm that SH-AWD and Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS, which the RLX also has) are fun and effective on the road, having tried it twice in Japan. Click here and here to read more about these Earth Dreams Technology components and our impressions.