Acura debuted the DN-X concept vehicle in 2002 at the New York International Auto Show. Infused with the latest technology, the DN-X puts an exclamation point on the term sports sedan by combining the style, handling and exhilarating performance of a high-powered sports car with the roominess and functionality of a luxury sedan.
"Don’t let the four doors fool you, the DN-X concept is all sports car," said Tom Elliott, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "Looking into the future, our designers created the perfect solution for those that want a sports car but also need to carry passengers."
The company’s racing heritage and legendary engine technology is evident in the DN-X. The mid-engine, all-wheel-drive DN-X concept is equipped with a unique 400 horsepower hybrid powertrain that combines a high-output, 3.5-liter, DOHC, i-VTEC V-6 engine powering the rear wheels and an advanced electric Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system that provides additional power to all four wheels. Not only does this system provide outstanding performance, but also achieves an environmentally conscious 42 miles to the gallon.
During acceleration, the IMA system contributes supplemental torque, resulting in both lower fuel consumption and powerful acceleration. The IMA’s ultracapacitor is recharged by regenerative braking that takes energy from forward momentum and captures it during braking. This system makes an external electric power supply unnecessary.
Mated to this high output powerplant is a unique 6-speed transmission allowing the driver to chose either manual or automatic mode at his or her discretion. When placed in manual mode, the DN-X operates as a clutchless, 6-speed manual transmission similar to those found in Formula One race cars. Shifting gears is accomplished using controls located on the steering wheel. Or, if desired, the DN-X can be driven as an automatic by selecting "D" on the center console.
Also unique to the DN-X are new drive-by-wire systems that control throttle, brake and steering operations and eliminate the need for a mechanical connection between the cockpit and these components. Steer-by-wire utilizes two actuators in the car’s front corners that receive input from the control module and turn the front wheels accordingly. Likewise, the electro-mechanical (EMB) brake-by-wire system, replaces the hydraulic system with electronic controls and actuators.
To further enhance its performance, the DN-X is equipped with a Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system similar to other Acura models, as well as the Active Torque Transfer System (ATTS). Synchronized to work together, VSA and ATTS help to suppress wheel slip and provide smoother, more stable cornering.
Designed as a true sports car, the DN-X has been given a highly rigid, lightweight state-of-the-art chassis tuned to provide the ultimate in handling and maximum aerodynamic efficiency. A wind tunnel-designed monocoque body and highly effective integrated front spoiler help to improve handling by lowering the coefficient of drag to a mere 0.23, nearly 25 percent less than the exotic Acura NSX sports car. Fully independent front and rear double wishbone suspension, large ventilated disc brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels in front and 19-inch alloy wheels in the rear compliment the DN-X’s sporty personality.
The DN-X is equipped with a host of technological innovations. Among them is the Intelligent Driver Support system (IDS) which is comprised of Lane Keeping Assistance and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Lane Keeping Assistance uses CCD cameras to recognize when the DN-X is veering out of its lane. On a highway, these cameras detect the lane markings and, if the car veers out of its lane, an audible and visual warning occurs and the steering automatically re-centers the car in its lane.
The Adaptive Cruise Control system uses sensors to keep the DN-X a safe distance from the car in front of it by controlling the accelerator and brake as needed. Laser radar tracks the speed and distance of the vehicle in front and maintains the DN-X’s speed accordingly.
Another component of the DN-X’s high-tech wizardry is the Night Vision System. Night Vision uses infrared cameras to enhance visibility and safety at night. When an object is detected, the system provides an audible warning and shows a highlighted infrared image on the center display.
Active Headlights further aid visibility by adjusting the angle of its beams to match the speed and direction in which the vehicle is traveling. During straight-line driving, the headlights perform like conventional systems by illuminating the road directly in front of the vehicle. When entering a curve, the upper portion of the headlights respond to steering direction and mapping information provided by the GPS navigation system to illuminate the entire road surface throughout the corner, thus minimizing blind spots.
The DN-X concept’s technical advances extend to the passenger cabin as well. The instrument panel of the DN-X, featuring interactive voice-recognition, is divided into three, easy-to-read units. A pop-up display in the center console provides access to e-mail, Internet and cellular telephone service. The LCD screen also shows navigation information from the Acura Satellite-Linked Navigation System.
Housed in the center display, located just below the windshield to minimize driver distraction, is a navigation section that indicates upcoming turns as well as the presence of objects in the roadway detected by the vehicle’s Night Vision System.
The third unit is comprised of a three-dimensional meter located in the dashboard that displays the speedometer, tachometer and odometer. In addition, alerts from the IDS system, notification of incoming phone calls and e-mails, as well as other basic driving status information are also displayed on this meter.