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



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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