The Acura TL has always been a nice luxury car for the money, but not usually considered a full performance alternative to the BMW 5-Series . Now it seems Honda’s luxury division is taking a step to change that by announcing that the 2010 TL will be offered with all-new 6-speed manual transmission.
Although this is not the first time a six-speed manual has been offered by Acura, there are two important distinctions. First, the new transmission has closer ratios for shorter shifts, while weighing approximately 110 lbs less than the Sequential SportShift automatic transmission. Second, this is the first time the manual will be available with the all-wheel drive system. The combination may not seem like much, but a true car enthusiasts never prefer full automatic transmissions, and Acura’s investment into a manual gearbox may signal the first sign of a serious war with the Germans.
Press release after the jump.
By adding an available manual transmission to the TL SH-AWD® model, Acura will further up its game for performance minded TL drivers who prefer the winding route over the direct route, Acura announced today. Available next fall for the 2010 model year, will be a TL SH-AWD® with 6-speed manual transmission and numerous modifications to enhance vehicle dynamics.
"The new manual transmission equipped TL SH-AWD® really allows the enthusiast driver to take full advantage of the performance of Acura’s SH-AWD® system," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of sales, "Not only is the new manual transmission model the best performing Acura TL ever, it is the top handling performer among every vehicle in its class."
The availability of a 6-speed manual transmission for the 2010 TL SH-AWD® represents the first time Acura has ever paired its acclaimed Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ system with a manual gearbox. In addition, the new close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission is approximately 110 lbs lighter than the Sequential SportShift automatic transmission to further benefit acceleration, braking and cornering.
The 6-speed manual transmission is an all-new design that is substantially stronger than the previous generation TL manual transmission. In addition to using a more rigid aluminum case and heavier-duty internals, the new manual transmission employs precisely selected gear ratios based on the characteristics of the TL’s new 3.7L V-6 engine and SH-AWD® drivetrain. New gear synchronizers deliver improved shift accuracy and feel, and a short-throw shifter assembly generates confident shifting combined with low shift effort.
Acura engineers also designed an entirely new clutch system for the new 6-speed manual transmission to withstand the TL’s robust power output while also improving modulation for noticeably easier use. The new self-adjusting, dual-mass clutch delivers extremely constant pedal effort throughout the entire stroke of the pedal. By keeping the effort linear, the driver has improved feel that results in better clutch interaction.
The TL SH-AWD® 6MT has a specially calibrated Hill Start Assist system that helps prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards when the driver switches from the brake to the accelerator while stopped on a hill. When the road incline exceeds an 8-degree threshold and the vehicle is fully stopped, Hill Start Assist automatically activates. When Hill Start Assist is active, the brakes automatically hold for one second as the driver’s foot transitions from the brake to the accelerator pedal. The brakes are automatically released when the vehicle begins to move forward.
The 2010 TL SH-AWD® 6MT has exclusive suspension tuning via special coil spring and shock absorber rates tuned for flatter cornering with reduced pitching motions under acceleration and braking. The front dampers incorporate 5-percent more tension damping during low piston speeds to generate improved turn-in feel. In addition, the front dampers generate 14-percent less high speed compression damping which helps improve ride quality.
The TL SH-AWD® 6MT employs firmer engine and transmission bushings that better resist engine and/or transmission movement during spirited driving. Engine side mount bushing stiffness increases by 80-percent, front mount rate increases by 17-percent, rear hydro mount firmness increases by 50-percent and the transmission upper mount is stiffened by 100-percent.
For 6-speed manual transmission applications, special heavy-duty front driveshafts are used. In addition to being 2-percent larger in diameter, the driveshafts have a larger inboard spline size and team with more heavy-duty CV joints.
The TL SH-AWD® fit with the new 6-speed transmission will also benefit from exclusive Electronic Power Steering (EPS) tuning. Just as with the TL SH-AWD® with Sequential SportShift 5-speed automatic, the EPS delivers low steering effort for parking maneuvers that progressively firms up as speed increases.
With the 6-speed manual transmission TL SH-AWD®, the EPS system is further tuned to deliver a slightly heavier feel as speed increases thus generating more confident mid- to high-speed driving dynamics.
The addition of a manual transmission, an all-new clutch system and suspension changes yield an 88 lb. reduction in overall vehicle weight. The weight reduction not only delivers improved performance, but also generates a more favorable front/rear weight bias. Compared to an automatic transmission equipped TL SH-AWD®, the 6-speed manual version improves weight distribution by 1-percent thus generating a 58/42 ratio versus the 5AT’s 59/41 ratio.
Acura offers a full line of technologically advanced performance luxury vehicles through a network of 270 dealers within the United States. The 2009 Acura lineup features five distinctive models including the RL luxury performance sedan, the TL performance luxury sedan, the TSX sports sedan, the turbocharged RDX crossover SUV and the award-winning MDX luxury sport utility vehicle.