Acura began SEMA 2018 with more of an explosion than a bang, as it unveiled a 345 horsepower version of its luxury compact crossover, the 2019 RDX A-Spec. The Acura RDX is already a strong performer in stock trim, but that didn’t stop Team Honda Indycar driver Graham Rahal from transforming it into a show-stopper.
Adding a little voodoo sauce, Graham Rahal Performance (GRP) applied subtle-but-significant upgrades to the GRP RDX. By taking a more mature approach to performance and styling enhancements than is typically seen at SEMA, he created a crossover that is capable of putting a smile on even the most sensible accountant’s face.
Powered by a 2.0-liter DOHC VTEC 4-cylinder turbo engine, the RDX puts out an impressive 272 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque right off the showroom floor.
Using mostly bolt-on upgrades, the Honda-focused speed shop managed to wrangle an impressive 345 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque from the K-series engine. A new turbo was paired with a faster-flowing intake manifold and PRL Racing intercooler. KTuning reprogrammed the ECU with a custom but fairly safe tune.
The hot turbo gas is expelled from the motor via a fast flowing exhaust manifold, custom downpipe and a lightweight cat-back exhaust. A pair of huge exhaust tailpipes hint at the blistering performance this Acura RDX offers.
The RDX A-Spec already comes with an impressive SH-All Wheel Drive system that is capable of not only driving power to the front and rear wheels, but to the inside or outside rear wheel as needed to enhance cornering stability and speed. To further enhance this, GRP turned their attention to making the suspension and handling awe-inspiring and to give the Acura RDX the ability to attack corners with a competitive aggression when needed.
The vehicle was lowered by two inches and the suspension stiffened up with custom Eibach coil-overs to make cornering gratifying and dynamic. Wheels were upgraded to 21-inch HRE alloy wheels and wrapped in 265-40 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. Huge six-piston StopTech brake callipers are tasked with bringing the RDX to a stop.
Keeping with the subtle-but-stylish theme, custom carbon grille accents and mirror caps were added to the exterior. The lower front garnish was paint matched to the body to give the RDX more of a road-hugging appearance.
Troy Lee Designs was responsible for the eye-grabbing graphics that were laid over the A-Spec exclusive Blue Pearl Paint and the result is that the Acura RDX looks stunning at any speed.
The interior was also dressed up to reflect Acura’s philosophy of blurring the line between sport and luxury. Max Papis of MPI Innovations provided a custom steering wheel to complement the custom carbon fiber accents and complete the transformation.
While not exactly an exercise in sensibility, Graham Rahal Performance managed to showcase how easily tuneable the Acura RDX is without compromising comfort, safety, reliability or luxury.