Acura may take a page out of Subaru’s playbook and make all-wheel drive a standard feature on its cars. The move is just one strategy Acura is looking at to stand out from rivals in the luxury segment.

"The key is awd," Acura chief Koichi Fukuo told Automotive News (subscription required). "As a premium brand, we need something different from the competition."

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Currently, all Acuras bar the entry-level ILX offer all-wheel drive and the take-up rate of the option is about 50 percent. Of course, all-wheel drive alone probably won’t cut it as many rivals already offer the option on most of their vehicles. For example, 90 percent of Audis sold in the U.S. this year were fitted with the automaker’s quattro all-wheel drive.

Acura NSX Sport Hybrid powertrain shown at global Honda Meeting event, Nov 2013

Acura NSX Sport Hybrid powertrain shown at global Honda Meeting event, Nov 2013

Acura does have another ace up its sleeve, though.  The automaker has focused in recent years on unique technology. Acura already offers, for example, a sophisticated drivetrain known as Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (Sport Hybrid SH-AWD), where instead of driveshafts electric motors are used to form a through-the-road hybrid all-wheel-drive system. Sport Hybrid SH-AWD made its debut in the 2014 RLX and next year will feature in a new NSX supercar.

"Looking at Subaru, I felt that we have to have a strong, clear direction as a brand," Fukuo explained. "What's important is to have the technology, styling and performance to evolve all together."

Fukuo said Acura is also looking at offering more power on its models but won’t offer engines with more than six-cylinders. In this regard, turbocharging and vehicle electrification will play a role—both technologies will feature in the new NSX.


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