Honda's AC-X saloon concept has two driving modes, one for relaxed driving and one for pushing on

The Honda AC-X saloon concept is described by the Japanese manufacturer as being a next-generation plug-in hybrid. The AC-X (Advanced Cruiser Experience) concept is between the Civic and Accord in size.

Honda says the concept “offers a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience in urban and long-distance motoring”. To that end, the concept is offered with an ‘automatic driving mode’ for more relaxed driving, with an ‘engine drive mode’ on offer for more spirited driving.

Specifically designed for long journeys, the AC-X gets the two joystick steering controls that are common to all of Honda's Tokyo show cars. Dubbed ‘twin lever steering’, the system is said to reduce the physical stresses of driving, allow for an auto-pilot setting and more efficient auto-recharging in electric vehicles.

See a picture of the Honda AC-X saloon concept

It’s not something we’ll see in the near future, but Honda has tested it in an old Formula One car, resulting in significant improvements in lap times.

The four-seat AC-X concept showcases particularly advanced aerodynamic progression including ‘wheel diffusers’ that help contribute to the impressive 0.21cd drag coefficient.

Expect to see this less-cluttered, more striking design language arrive in future Honda production cars uncorrupted from these concepts, though you will still see different designs and types of Honda model being produced for individual countries.

Yoshikazu Kigoshi, general manager for Honda research and design, was open about the fact that Honda will “uphold the categorisation we think is necessary for markets as different as USA, Japan and Europe.”

The firm revealed last month that it intends to have a plug-in hybrid on sale in limited numbers in China, Japan and US in 2012.

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