Acura is celebrating the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas by rolling out an army of Acura products from the past and the present. While the NSX will certainly draw stares with its gorgeous physique and the unearthly levels of performance that is generated from its hybrid infused powertrain, one particular recruit could foreshadow an all new performance oriented trim for the venerable RDX SUV if it eventually makes its way into formal production.
Dubbed the RDX GRP, Acura partnered with Graham Rahal Performance to craft this special SUV. Starting life as a stock A-Spec model, GRP made a number of improvements to help spice up the driving experience. A notable addition is the extensive suspension tweaks that the team made to make the RDX more composed in hard cornering. Eibach sport suspension lowers the RDX slightly, and the increased stiffness brings sharper reflexes to eager drivers looking for more track day fun. 21-inch HRE P101 wheels shod in 265/40 Pirelli 265/40 Pilot Sport 4S tires are also part of the package, and are the same tires that also see duty in select sports car entries. GRP even tinkered with the 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder, with the potent four banger now producing 345 horsepower thanks to a new intercooler, and custom intake from PRL. A cat back style exhaust rounds out this potent suite of power, and should give the RDX GRP a much more potent soundtrack than its mainstream sibling.
“As owners of an Acura dealership, we know how strong the new 2019 RDX is out of the gate. I didn’t want to mess with a good thing,” says Graham Rahal. “Sometimes, subtle enhancements can make a big difference in the look of a vehicle. And that’s exactly what my team and I aimed for with this GRP RDX.”
This emphasis on subtlety was clearly not recieved by the exterior designers, and in this case, we are glad it got convinently lost in the mail. Apex Blue Pearl paint helps connect the concept to its A-Spec siblings, but custom carbon fiber mirror caps and grille work denote its special place in Acura’s lineup of SEMA entries. One item that we can live without though is the tacky side mounted GRP stickers, in our opinion, they clash too much with the elegant blue that adorns the concept, and would look better in white or a similar color that meshes with the bold lettering.
The interior on the other hand follows the subtle doctrine more willingly, with upgrades here being limited to strategic splashes of carbon fiber accents, and a custom steering wheel that was designed by Max Papis from MPI Innovations. The stock leather/ultra suede sport seats remain unchanged, but thats fine considering they already do a good job of keeping occupants snugly in place to begin with. The RDX’s infotainment system is also present, and that includes the nifty touch pad system for controlling various functions.
It’s unknown whether the concept is a definite sign of a production bound version, but there is room in the RDX range for a more potent A-Spec variant to appease picky enthusiasts wanting something extra from their RDX purchase. While the 345 horsepower engine that powers the concept will most likely not see production, some of its suspension and exterior enhancements could emerge in a production version to help add some extra sizzle especially as the SUV market gravitates towards more performance entries.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.