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Testing Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive


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Hailed in engineering circles as a breakthrough development in all-wheel drive systems, SH-AWD features what Acura chief engineer Shiyouji Tokushima calls "Direct Yaw Control," also known as Torque Vectoring.

The torque vectoring characteristic that distinguishes SH-AWD is that the rotational speed of one rear wheel can be increased to improve stability and handling.

The system is comparatively simple, according to Mr. Tokushima, using a transfer case at the front, and a rear differential and two clutches at the rear to distribute torque. It is "proactive," as well, meaning that SH-AWD anticipates vehicle behavior in particular conditions, and continuously compensates by distributing torque between front and rear wheels, and from side-to-side at the rear.

To demonstrate the SH-AWD system, Acura brought journalists to the snow and ice-covered Mecaglisse driving centre. Competitive vehicles from Lexus, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz were available for comparison.

All of the competitive vehicles performed acceptably well on the purpose-designed tracks. However, the Acura vehicles were distinguished by the smoothness of their operation, and their ability to maintain steering response in several situations where the competition had lost control.

It was noted that the all-wheel drive and stability systems on the competitive vehicles tended to intervene more abruptly and severely than the Acura vehicles. In comparison, the operation of the SH-AWD system and VSA was barely perceptible, and enabled corners to be taken on very slick surfaces without drama. Furthermore, some of those corners could be taken comfortably at twice the speed of the competition, although driving experience was a factor in achieving this level of performance.

Unfortunately the article doesn't say exactly what competing models were used, and doesn't include times or specs to back up the claims. But it's from Canada, and Canadians don't lie, so it's probably pretty accurate. :thumbsup:

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It may be great for safety and bad weather, but it's not the hottest thing on a track.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=GwT79fmwOjY

The SH-AWD is more of an advanced vehicle stability control than a racing handling technology.

As your Canadian Driver article says,

"the operation of the SH-AWD system and VSA was barely perceptible, and enabled corners to be taken on very slick surfaces without drama"

It's boring, and it's safe.

Edited by JT64
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It may be great for safety and bad weather, but it's not the hottest thing on a track.

While I think Honda may have been a bit overzealous saying the Legend/RL would be faster than the Audi and BMW (according to that video), the SH-AWD system was not at fault for the slow lap time. If you did watch that video, he clearly states the soft suspension is at fault for the slow lap time. Also, if you look up the stats for the cars it was tested against, while having less powerful V6's, the BMW 530i weighs in 500 lbs less and is RWD only. It's a no brainer that it would be quicker. The Audi weighs in the same as the Legend/RL, but like the BMW, has more sport oriented suspension. Another advantage to the BMW and Audi is they have 6 speed transmissions. I'm amazed the Audi was only 1 second slower than the BMW, that's odd.

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In addition to the soft suspension, the problem with the RL is the tall gearing (and the lack of a 6 speed auto). I think Acura should make a base trim FWD RL, with the soft suspension and gearing. They could lower the price, maybe start it at $42,800 or something. Then offer a Type S trim with stiff suspension, a 6 speed aggressively geared transmission, and SH-AWD.

Instead Acura tried to make something that did both, and it doesn't quite work. The AWD system is hindered by the suspension, and the powerful V6 is held back by the transmission.

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