American Honda Motor Co. Inc. will provide New York show goers with a close-up look at the future direction of its Acura luxury division’s flagship car when it unveils the RL Prototype.

Most notable is the focus on all-wheel drive in the RL Prototype – current RLs are front drive.

Honda says its AWD system, dubbed SH-AWD, is the first that distributes optimum torque side to side as well as front to back. As a result, torque-steer is greatly reduced, the auto maker says.

Acura RL concept

The SH-AWD system monitors driver input and driving conditions, then distributes power to the rear differential, which uses electromagnetic clutches to continuously vary torque up to 70% in either direction front to rear. In addition, torque sent to the rear wheels can be distributed up to 100% to either the right or left wheel, Honda says.

The system monitors steering angle and lateral g-forces and improves cornering by controlling the torque to the outside rear wheel – accelerating to create an inward yaw moment for more precise handling and decelerating to create an outward yaw moment to enhance stability, Honda says. During rapid, straight-line acceleration, torque is redistributed from the front to the rear wheels.

Honda is expected to launch sales of the new RL in the ’05 model year.