The next-generation Acura MDX, spied here in prototype form, could get the hybrid all-wheel drive system due to be fitted to the new NSX supercar

A well-disguised prototype of the next-generation Acura MDX sports-utility vehicle has been caught testing in Germany. It was reportedly being benchmarked against the BMW X5 on public roads close to the Nürburgring.

That the MDX was being measured against BMW’s popular five-door 4x4 gives some indication where the Honda-owned brand wants is position the third-generation machine, which won’t be offered in Europe.

Under the disguise, the MDX is expected to feature some elements of the ‘mature’ styling seen on the Acura RLX Concept unveiled at the New York motor show in early April.

More significant developments are likely under the skin. The new SUV could be offered with Sport-Hybrid Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). The system, which also features on the Acura/Honda NSX supercar and the RLX Concept, uses an electric motor drive unit with a bilateral torque adjustable control system to instantly generate negative or positive torque to the rear wheels during cornering.

It seems likely that the hybrid system will be mated to a 3.5-litre V6 powerplant and a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. A non-hybrid 3.0-litre V6 is also due to form part of the engine line-up.

The MDX is scheduled to go on sale in the USA in 2013 and forms part of an aggressive revitalisation plan by Acura, which is aiming to sell 180,000 vehicles this year. If that figure is achieved, it would represent a nearly 50 per cent increase over Acura’s 2011 sales results.

Our Verdict

Hybrids aren’t usually cars to quicken the blood

The Honda CR-Z is as intriguing and appealing to drive as hybrids currently get

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