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.
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.