DETROIT – Acura takes the wraps off three concept vehicles today at the 2012 North American International Auto Show: the new ILX compact sedan, next-generation RDX cross/utility vehicle and NSX sports car.
Acura says the NSX, one of the most-anticipated models being shown here today, will spawn a production model that will be assembled in Ohio. The development of the new NSX is being led by Honda's U.S. research and development team.
The production NSX is to debut in three years and, "Like the first NSX, we will again express high performance through engineering efficiency," Honda CEO Takanobu Ito says in a statement.
Ito led development of the first NSX, a nameplate that has been absent in the U.S. since the previous generation was discontinued in 2005.
He says that while the NSX will be fun to drive, it also keeps in mind "environmental responsibilities." As such, the concept NSX features a new hybrid version of Acura's super-handling all-wheel-drive system.
"Utilizing a a unique 2-electric-motor drive unit with bilateral torque adjustable control, the system can instantly generate negative or positive torque to the front wheels during cornering," Acura says.
Dubbed Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, the system should deliver "handling performance unmatched by previous AWD systems," Acura promises.
The NSX concept has a direct-injected, mid-mounted V-6 engine and a dual-clutch transmission with an electric motor to improve acceleration and efficiency.
Nearer than the production NSX are the ILX and RDX, two of the new models Acura plans to debut in the U.S. over the next 24 months.
The ILX concept hints at a production model due this spring that will be the new entry point to the Acura brand, replacing the current TSX sedan in that role. The TSX will remain in the Acura lineup, company officials have said.
Tailored as a car for young buyers entering the luxury segment, the ILX has a low, wide stance, long nose and short tail. The proportion is aerodynamically efficient and makes the car recognizable as an Acura, the brand says.
The ILX offers Acura's first-ever hybrid powertrain, using a 1.5L gas engine mated to an unspecified-size electric motor.
Other powertrain options for the ILX include 2.0L and 2.4L 4-cyl. engines. The 2.4L will be mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, Acura says.
The ILX, to be built at Honda's newest U.S. plant, in Greensburg, IN, – currently home only to the Honda Civic – also will offer push-button start, keyless entry, Pandora Internet radio and SMS text-messaging.
The RDX prototype shown at the show foreshadows the second-generation CUV due this spring.
For its next iteration, the RDX will have a standard 3.5L, 273-hp V-6 engine, not a turbocharged 4-cyl., as is used in the current RDX. The V-6 will offer 33 more hp than the outgoing model's 2.3L turbo 4-cyl.
A 6-speed automatic transmission replaces the current RDX's 5-speed and has a new lock-up torque converter.
All-wheel drive once again will be offered on the RDX, but a new, lighter system is forthcoming.
The '13 RDX will get a longer wheelbase and wider track than the current '12 model, new Amplitude Reactive Dampers and a motion-adaptive electronic power-steering system.
Acura also promises larger door openings and more passenger and cargo room for the RDX interior, as well as matte surface trim and "generous" use of leather.
Fuel economy of 20/28 mpg (11.8-8.4 L/100 km) city/highway is estimated for front-wheel drive '13 RDXs. The FWD '12 RDX achieves 19/24 mpg (12.4/9.8 L/100 km) city/highway.
Acura says it will shift production of the RDX to its East Liberty, OH, plant from nearby Marysville, OH, where the first-generation RDX has been built since going on sale in 2006.
The RDX was the only Acura model to see sales increase last year, up 1.5% to 15,196 units, WardsAuto data shows. Total Acura sales fell 7.7% from 2010, to 123,299.