Honda's rear-wheel drive future
Honda's new NSX is finished and will spearhead the European launch of the Acura brand when it goes into production in autumn 2010. ( AC )
That's the word from Autocar's sources inside Honda Japan, who have confirmed that the front-engined V10 supercar will be unveiled at next year's Tokyo show and will be followed by a new range of rear-wheel-drive Acura sports saloons.
We can also reveal that the controversial looks of the NSX concept model have been overhauled since its debut at the 2007 Detroit show. The long nose has been completely redesigned.
"It now has Chevrolet Corvette overtones," said our source. But the new NSX will still be powered by a 4.5-litre V10 engine, delivering around 550bhp and offering racecar-like acoustics.
The NSX was meant to be unveiled at last year's Tokyo motor show, but Honda bosses postponed its launch because they were unhappy with the car's final design.
Honda has aspirations to compete with Lexus, Infiniti and BMW in Europe, and Acura is the obvious platform from which to launch that assault.
Insiders tell us that there will be a range of Acura models alongside the NSX. Honda will switch to rear-wheel drive for its large saloons and develop a range of more powerful engines.
The first new saloon will be a BMW 7-series rival, scheduled for launch in 2015.
Another new model could be an S2000-based Acura sports car, which would replace the ageing Honda two-seater, taking it more upmarket to rival the Mercedes SLK.
If Acura is to have an impact on the European market, it will require a huge investment from its parent company, but the brand needs sales here to succeed.