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2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid.
2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid. (Credit: Honda Motor Company)

In early 2013, Acura introduced the 310-horsepower RLX sedan. Now, Acura is raising the bar with the unveiling of the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, which is, according to the company, the most potent and technologically advanced Acura sedan yet.

The RLX Sport Hybrid shares it engine architecture with the two-wheel-drive RLX with P-AWS. The 3.5-liter, 310-horsepower, 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC® V-6 with Variable Cylinder Management™ (VCM™) in the RLX Sport Hybrid adds an idle-stop feature to further maximize fuel efficiency. The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD® is the most powerful Acura production model ever built, with peak output of 377 horsepower.

An all-new advanced 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) is standard on the Sport Hybrid—a first for Acura. Unlike a conventional automatic transmission, the DCT offers ultra-quick gear changes and eliminates the need for a torque converter, which significantly improves efficiency. It can operate in fully automatic mode, or can be shifted manually via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD uses three electric motors: a single 35-kilowatt (47 hp) motor that is integrated with the 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission supplements the V-6 engine in driving the front wheels, and a rear-mounted Twin Motor Unit (TMU) containing two 27-kilowatt (36 hp) motors that dynamically distribute electric-motor torque to the rear wheels. Both the front and rear motors capture kinetic energy during vehicle deceleration and braking and convert it to electricity to supply the Intelligent Power Unit’s 72-cell, 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, located behind the rear seatback. Together, the 310-horsepower V-6 engine and three electric motors produce a total system output of 377 horsepower and 377 lb.-ft. of torque.

The front motor is integrated with the 7-speed DCT and is connected to the driveshaft via a clutch. The motor accomplishes three tasks: (1) It supplements the V-6 engine in driving the front wheels when additional power is required, such as in a passing situation; (2) provides regenerative braking to the front wheels; (3) converts engine power to electricity to supplement regenerative braking in recharging the lithium-ion batteries.

In the RLX Sport Hybrid, Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) operates independent of the gasoline engine. Drawing power from the lithium-ion battery pack, the TMU’s two electric motors deliver torque directly to the rear wheels, thereby eliminating the weight and energy losses associated with a conventional driveshaft and differential mechanism.

Detailed specifications for the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD are available here.