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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Acura RLX Sport Hybrid, 2014

  • Acura RLX Sport Hybrid, 2014

The 377-horsepower 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, which launches in the spring of 2014, is the first vehicle to deploy Acura's new three-motor hybrid powertrain technology. The system combines a highly efficient, direct-injected V-6 engine with an all-new, Acura-designed, 7-speed dual clutch transmission with built-in electric motor and an electrically powered variant of Acura's highly regarded torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).

The advanced new hybrid powertrain delivers exhilarating driving performance with incredibly responsive power delivery and precise, sure-footed handling performance like no other vehicle in its class. Supported by the instantaneous torque delivered by its high-output electric motors, the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid runs a 0-60 mph time comparable with competitor's V8-powered machines. The performance, however, is coupled with a 28/32/30mpg (city/highway/combined) EPA fuel economy rating, which is in the range of 4-cylinder-powered luxury sedans.

Powertrain and Drivetrain
The Acura RLX Sport Hybrid's 3.5-liter, 310-horsepower, i-VTEC V-6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) includes an idle-stop feature to help maximize fuel efficiency. The engine is mated to an all-new, 7-speed dual clutch transmission with built-in electric motor. In automatic mode, the transmission provides highly responsive and intuitive gear selection, including matching engine revs during downshifts, in manual mode, the Sequential Sport Shift paddle shifters give the driver gear selection control to make virtually seamless ratio changes.

The electric SH-AWD system on the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid eliminates the conventional drive shaft and rear differential, replacing them with two high-output 27-kilowatt electric motors. The rear motors dynamically distribute both positive (drive) and negative (regenerative braking) electric-motor torque, depending on driving conditions, and which torque vectoring assists in cornering. The system is further aided by a 35-kilowatt front electric motor that supplements engine torque to the front wheels and provides regenerative brake torque to charge the vehicle's 260-volt lithium-ion battery pack.

Body and Chassis
With a longer wheelbase and wider greenhouse than competing mid-luxury sedans, the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD delivers full-size interior space in a nimbler, mid-size luxury sedan package. The RLX boasts the longest rear-seat legroom (38.8 inches), and best front (59.6 inches) and rear (57.0 inches) shoulder room in the mid-luxury class. The RLX advanced body design makes extensive use of high-strength steel and aluminum, further aiding its outstanding fuel efficiency, straight-line performance and superior handling agility.

In front, the RLX's double-wishbone, lower double-joint front suspension with Amplitude Reactive Dampers significantly improves handling agility, driver confidence and security, and ride sophistication. In back, the RLX's multi-link rear suspension is optimized for a flat ride during cornering, confident turning capability, and a smooth ride in a variety of urban, highway and open road scenarios.

Acura technology firsts on the 2014 Sport Hybrid also include the Acura electronic gear selector and Acura Head-Up Display System. The Acura electronic gear selector replaces the conventional, center console-mounted shift lever with an efficiently packaged push-button array that allows the driver to easily select the desired drive mode—Park, Drive and Reverse, as well as Sport and Normal driving modes. The Acura Head-Up Display System provides the driver with at-a-glance access to key driving information projected on the windshield. Display modes include Sport Hybrid system operation, turn-by-turn navigation, speedometer and compass, as well as alerts from various driver-assistive systems.

The Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD features Acura's signature Jewel Eye LED headlights, which offer outstanding light distribution and excellent down-the-road illumination performance and light characteristics. The RLX taillights utilize periphery LED illumination that is both effective and highly distinctive.

With the expanded range of standard and available technology features built into the RLX, substantial engineering effort was put into making each feature intuitive and easy-to-use. The focal point of the new instrument panel is a large, 8-inch color screen that combines audio/information and navigation functions and provides access to an array of customizable features. An additional 7-inch color On Demand Multi-Use Display (ODMD) touchscreen is positioned within easy reach and controls the audio system and many other features.

Audio and Connectivity
Exceptional audio performance has long been an Acura hallmark, and in the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, two audio systems are offered. The Technology package includes the Acura/ELS Studio Premium Audio System with an advanced 14-speaker array. In the Advance package, the 14-speaker Krell system — with speakers and amplifiers engineered by Krell, one of the most respected audio companies in world — sets a new benchmark in automotive audio performance.

The RLX is equipped with the next-generation Acura Link cloud-based connected car system, delivering a comprehensive array of media, convenience, and security services via embedded two-way communications and web-enabled devices. Acura Link leverages Pandora interface for streaming audio and the Aha™ by Harman cloud-based interface to provide users with thousands of customizable cloud-based news, information and media feeds. The next-generation Acura Link also delivers an array of available, subscription-based, security and convenience features, such as AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic™ featuring freeway traffic and, for the first time, surface street traffic information.

Safety and Driver-Assistive Technologies
The new Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD offers an extensive array of advanced safety, visibility and driver-assistive technologies that put the RLX on the leading edge of collision avoidance and assisted driving capability. Standard and features include a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW), along with Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and Blind Spot Information (BSI) system.

Utilizing Acura's next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, along with seven airbags (including a driver's knee airbag), the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD is anticipated to earn top-level safety ratings, including a 5-star NCAP Overall Vehicle Score and an IIHS "TOP SAFETY PICK+" rating, plus a GOOD rating in the IIHS small overlap front collision test.

Acura ILX Endurance Racer, 2013

  •  Acura ILX Endurance Racer, 2013
A pair of E1 class Acura ILX sedans, prepared to NASA U.S. Touring Car specs, will be entered for the traditional 25-hour endurance race that annually concludes the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) season at the challenging three-mile Thunderhill road course north of Sacramento, California.

Team Honda Research-West (THR-W) is primarily made up of Torrance, California-based associates from Honda R&D Americas, Inc., who work after-hours to showcase Honda and Acura products on the track. The team received a pair of new Acura ILX "body in white" bare chassis earlier this year from Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, LLC, the exclusive global production source for the model. Additionally, a pair of "donor" cars from American Honda Motor Co., Inc. was used to provide suspension, powertrain, interior and electronic components.

Once the chassis and donor cars were delivered to the THR-W workshop, an extensive build program commenced that included the use of as many OEM components as possible, to retain serviceability and test outright durability of Acura's newest sedan. In preparing the cars for the grueling Thunderhill event, THR-W members focused their efforts less on performance modifications and more on reducing vehicle weight, to achieve the performance targets set by the team.

Safety equipment required by NASA included a full roll cage (designed by THR-W and built by Solo Motorsports); Bride Gardis III race seat; OMP competition steering wheel; Schroth safety harness; Brockway Engineering D Gauge digital OBD2 gauge; and Braille lightweight battery. Changes to the exterior included a Baja Designs LED lighting system for long winter night-running, a THR-W-designed front splitter and an APR GTC-200 rear spoiler.

Red Line oil lubricates the K24Z7 engine and 6-speed transmission. Cold air enters the engine through an AEM intake, while DEI heat rejection products help keep the heat under control from exhaust gases flowing through the custom-built AEM/120 Racing exhaust. H&R suspension and Enkei RPF1 wheels fitted with BF Goodrich R1 race tires complete the Acura ILX competition package.

Honda Performance Development (HPD), responsible for Honda racing programs ranging from entry-level categories to the IZOD IndyCar Series and World Endurance Championship, also contributed several racing-specific components to the ILX project. These included an HPD-lightened flywheel and racing clutch package, limited-slip differential, motor mounts, anti-roll bars and rear upper suspension control arms. All of these parts are available to racers through the HPD Honda Racing Line program.

The THR-W build team for the ILX includes a number of engineers and researchers from Honda R&D Americas (HRA). The team is headed by Project Leader Calvin Liu, a Design Engineer in the Surface Development Department. John Whiteman, Manager of the Advanced Product Planning Department, is responsible for race strategy and sponsorship. David Kirsch, Senior Engineer in the Information Technical Research Department, serves as Crew Chief and is responsible for the electrical system. Roy Richards, a coordinator in the Energy and Environmental Research Group, is responsible for budget and procurement of components for the team.

Once the initial build was complete, a testing program that included a pair of shakedown runs at Buttonwillow Raceway in southern California, followed by a more extensive run at Willow Springs International Raceway, was implemented to complete final preparations for Thunderhill.

The driving team for Thunderhill is headed by Matt Staal, Senior Planner, Advanced Product Planning, for HRA. Other members of the driver lineup include Project Leader Calvin Liu; Derek Ferretti, a Senior Modeler in the Styling Division at HRA; Sage Marie, Senior Manager of Public Relations at American Honda; Lee Niffenegger, a former SCCA National Champion and Senior Engineer in Business Development at HPD; Lawrence Hwang, Senior Stylist at HRA; Scott Nichol from Honda of Canada Manufacturing; Chad Gilsinger, a former SCCA National Champion and Senior Engineer at HRA in Ohio: and Brian Shanfeld, a former NASA National Champion, also from HRA in Ohio.


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