Honda pon­ders V8

The Ja­panese maker will punt on eight-pot en­gines, write PAUL GOVER and PETER LYON in Ja­pan

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News -

THE next Honda flag­ship will be a V8. Plans for a pow­er­house Leg­end in 2010 with an eight-pot en­gine and all­wheel drive are well ad­vanced at HQ in Ja­pan, but the driv­ing force for the new­comer is ac­tu­ally in the US.

More US driv­ers are push­ing for V8 en­gines, a shift Hyundai has also iden­ti­fied, and an­swered, with its Ge­n­e­sis sedan and coupe.

Now Honda is look­ing for more go in a move that could have im­pli­ca­tions for Aus­tralia . . . only if the maker de­cides to bring its sec­ond-string brand, Acura.

An Acura plan is be­ing de­vel­oped at Honda Aus­tralia’s head­quar­ters and it could eas­ily in­clude the V8-pow­ered Acura RL that is now an open se­cret around the world.

‘‘We un­der­stand that a V8 en­gine will be launched in the new flag­ship Acura model in Amer­ica. That is the car called the RL,’’ Honda Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ya­suhide Mizuno says.

‘‘We be­lieve the V8 is be­ing in­tro­duced to cre­ate a big­ger dif­fer­en­tial be­tween the RL and the Ac­cord. Whether it comes to Aus­tralia de­pends on our strat­egy for in­tro­duc­ing Acura.

‘‘It won’t be un­til the next decade, at the ear­li­est, be­fore we de­cide on whether we launch that brand. That de­pends on us reach­ing a num­ber of other tar­gets with the Honda brand,’’ he says.

Mizuno con­firms the V8 will have the same eco-fo­cused cylin­der de­ac­ti­va­tion sys­tem al­ready seen on the latest V6 Ac­cord— which can run as a six, four or three-cylin­der mo­tor— but is giv­ing away noth­ing else.

Honda gave the first hint on its V8 plan with the ugly Acura Ad­vanced Sports Con­cept it dis­played at the 2006 Los An­ge­les mo­tor show.

There is no prize for guess­ing it was a de­sign study for the com­ing RL, though Ja­panese artists be­lieve Honda has lis­tened to crit­i­cisms of the orig­i­nal de­sign and made sig­nif­i­cant changes as it works to­wards pro­duc­tion.

Honda of Amer­ica has been lis­ten­ing care­fully to the word on the street, as it wants the V8 RL to go up against BMW, Audi and Lexus.

One source says Honda plans to

IT WON’T BE UN­TIL THE NEXT DECADE, AT

THE EAR­LI­EST, BE­FORE WE DE­CIDE

ex­tract 315kW from the V8, but — thanks to the cylin­der de-ac­ti­va­tion sys­tem — also be­lieves it can gen­er­ate class-lead­ing fuel econ­omy fig­ures.

The other big change for the RL and Leg­end, which cur­rently share a front-wheel-drive me­chan­i­cal pack­age, is the switch to on-de­mand rear­wheel drive with four-wheel steer­ing.

Honda of Amer­ica be­lieves reardrive is es­sen­tial for the RL, but the com­pany is de­vel­op­ing a re­vised ver­sion of the SH-AWD sys­tem used now to pro­vide rear-drive bal­ance at all times with an on-de­mand power feed to the front wheels when rear trac­tion is com­pro­mised.

So it’s good news on the tech­nol­ogy and de­sign fronts, but there will be bad news on price. The RL is aimed at a $70,000 bot­tom line in the US and that would prob­a­bly put it close to $100,000 in Aus­tralia.

Power push: (above) in two years’ time the Honda Leg­end could have a V8 en­gine and all-wheel drive. Taste tester: (left) Honda gave the first hint on its V8 plan with the ugly Acura Ad­vanced Sports Con­cept.

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