Two 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 three electric motors in total, two powering one axle and a third integrated with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and gasoline V-6 that will power the alternating axle. Powering the three 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 nine-speed automatic transmission technology. Automobile, citing an inside source, said Acura may adopt the nine-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.