Though auto pundits and car enthusiasts alike have been calling on Acura to drop its ban on rear-wheel-drive and V8 engines, no one ever really expects the automaker to go through with it. It's the brand's identity, its thing, its shtick. Though an Acura may be down on torque and driven by the wrong set of wheels compared to its German competition, most buyers at least marvel at how much the engineers have done in terms of performance and handling when saddled with a V6 and front-wheel-drive or part-time all-wheel-drive.

We're hearing more rumors that Acura's long holdout may be coming to an end. In addition to the last report from Best Car, now Inside Line is also claiming that the next Acura RL flagship model will be powered by a V8 and be rear-wheel-drive, or at least have a revised SH-AWD system that engages the front wheels when the rears are slipping. IL's source claims that a 4.8L V8 producing 420 horsepower is being developed and will feature cylinder deactivation technology to keep fuel economy up.

Acura showed us its Advanced Sedan Concept at the 2007 LA Auto Show, which some thought foreshadowed the next-gen RL. Inside Line claims that after the concept's lukewarm reception, Acura stylists went back to the drawing board for a new design. Whether or not the new sheetmetal will be accompanied by a big break in tradition for Acura remains to be seen. We're still a bit skeptical, but anything's possible in this competitive climate.

[Source: Inside Line]