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Acura Considering Standard All-Wheel-Drive Lineup

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 10/13/2014 Jason Udy

Acura is considering going to an all-wheel-drive -only lineup, according to a new report from Automotive News. The brand wants to carve out its own niche in the premium segment much like Subaru has done among mainstream automakers.

"Looking at Subaru, I felt that we have to have a strong, clear direction as a brand," Koichi Fukuo, Senior Managing Officer of Honda Motor Co., told Automotive News. "What's important is to have the technology, styling and performance to evolve all together. Otherwise, I don't think we can increase the number of loyal customers, so-called Acurists."

Currently, Acura offers front-drive on its base models, while all-wheel drive is available on all of its models excluding the Honda Civic-based ILX sedan, which is front-drive only. In comparison, all of Subaru’s models come with standard all-wheel-drive, excluding the rear-drive BRZ coupe.

"The key is awd," said Fukuo. "As a premium brand, we need something different from the competition."

A full all-wheel-drive lineup is just one idea from the new Acura Business Planning Office. Formed in February, the U.S.-based committee was created to help the brand reinvent itself amidst struggling sales. However, the full all-wheel-drive plan isn’t confirmed. Other ideas include more powerful engines without going to larger V-8 and V-10 engines. Rear-drive layouts are also not in the plans.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid

While other premium automaker’s offer all-wheel drive, none offer a full all-wheel-drive lineup. Known for its Quattro all-wheel drive system, about 90 percent of Audi sales are all-wheel-drive. BMW’s all-wheel-drive take rate is 58 percent, while about half of Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti sales are all-wheel-drive. In comparison, Subaru has a 98-percent take rate for its all-wheel-drive models.

A full all-wheel-drive lineup would also help Acura differentiate itself from the Honda brand. Acura’s upcoming NSX flagship sports car will be the automaker’s first model offering standard all-wheel drive.

Do you think a full all-wheel-drive lineup would help Acura carve out its own niche and help it increase sales? Share your thoughts below.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

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