Fuel efficiency trumps the need for superior dynamics, says Takanobu ItoEnlarge Photo
Front-wheel drive cars, no matter how well-engineered, are always a compromise when it comes to being fast. They do enjoy some advantages in terms of packaging and efficiency, however, and Honda's new president Takanobu Ito is firmly behind the continued absence of RWD cars in the company's lineup.
The move is especially curious with regard to the premium end of the market, where RWD sedans continue to dominate at brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and even Lexus. Still, Ito is sticking to his guns on the issue.
"It would be meaningless to emulate what other companies have been doing for more than five decades," Ito said of a front-engine, rear-drive car, according to an Automotive News
Instead, Ito wants to continue pushing into new territory in terms of packaging, technology and efficiency, with new engines and transmissions for its medium and large-sized sedans - especially hybrids. A first step in this direction was the announcement last fall of a manual transmission available in the SH-AWD 2010 Acura TL
alongside a pair of new V6 engines.
This leaves Honda's premium Acura brand on similar ground to Audi, with front-drive sedans supplemented by AWD, though Acura hasn't fully embraced AWD the way Audi has with its quattro system.
Will Acura be able to compete against the upper echelon of the luxury market with primarily front-driven, highly-efficient sedans? Or is the dynamic advantage of RWD simply too important to overcome? Let us know in the comments section below.