Mike Stevens | Jul 21, 2009

HONDA'S NEW PRESIDENT, Takanobu Ito, said this week that the packaging and efficiency benefits of front-wheel-drive will take priority for Honda over any handling gains available from a rear-wheel-drive platform.

Ito - a long-time Honda employee and designer of the NSX sports car's chassis - claims that Honda does not need a V8 powered rear-wheel-drive car to compete in the upper-end luxury market.

Plans for a large rear-wheel-drive car were shelved earlier this year, with the company rationalising new models due to financial constraints.

Honda will continue to offer a purely front-wheel-drive line up, supplemented at the upper end of the market by systems such as the Legend’s SH-AWD all-wheel-drive system.

2009-honda-legend-sh-awd

Honda will also focus on hybrid drivetrains for large cars in a market that Mr Ito believes will continue to seek fuel efficient options.

"We are considering incorporating new engines, motors, transmissions and chassis into mid- to large-sized hybrid vehicles, and I think this is a good opportunity for change," Mr Ito said at his first press conference since taking the reins as Honda’s President.

"I don't think we need a classic front-engine, rear-drive car. It would be meaningless to emulate what other companies have been doing for more than five decades."

Honda’s North American-focused premium Acura brand had begun developing a rear-wheel-drive V8 sedan to tackle the premium German brands, along with Japanese competitors Infiniti and Lexus, and Hyundai’s rear-wheel-drive Genesis sedan. The program has since been postponed indefinitely.

Along with the retirement of the S2000 - for which no immediate replacement is planned - Honda has also scrapped plans for the return of a rear-wheel-drive successor to the NSX.

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