The 2019 Acura RDX A-spec sport trim is a powerful crossover that delivers 272 horsepower off the lot. But to Honda IndyCar driver Graham Rahal, that’s not nearly enough.
So Rahal and his aftermarket performance company, Graham Rahal Performance, or GRP, tuned an RDX A-Spec so that it makes 345 horsepower and an estimated 370 pound-feet of torque. The upgraded vehicle features changes to its suspension, brakes, powertrain, and wheel and tire package.
Engine in Graham Rahal’s RDX A-Spec. (Photo: Acura)
GRP upgraded the RDX’s 2.0-liter DOHC VTEC Turbo engine by installing a new turbocharger and downpipe, as well as new intake and exhaust manifolds. The new A-Spec also features a custom lightweight cat-back exhaust system, custom Eibach sport springs and StopTech brakes.
While its name adorns the project, GRP enlisted the help of other companies to bring the A-Spec to life. PRL Racing fabricated a custom intercooler and intake, and KTuning manufactured a custom ECU map.
GRP used lightweight, 21-inch diameter HRE P101 wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot sport 4S tires to round out the build.
Interior of Graham Rahal’s RDX A-Spec. (Photo: Acura)
GRP painted the RDX with Apex Blue Pearl, an RDX A-Spec-exclusive color, and included custom carbon grill accents and mirror caps. Carbon fiber accents decorate its interior, and black leather sport seats feature microfiber highlights. Max Papis of MPI Innovations developed the vehicle’s custom-designed steering wheel.
This isn’t the first time a utility vehicle has been tweaked for higher performance. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jeep all offer sport-inspired SUVs for the daily driver. Automakers are responding to consumer demand for vehicles that are both practical and powerful like the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk or Acura RDX A-Spec.
Though Rahal’s A-Spec is a one-off project, Acura told Trucks.com that the brand is using the GRP RDX to “study the market for aftermarket interest in the RDX,” and that the Type S nameplate found on prior Acura performance vehicles will be making a comeback on various models in the coming years.