Is th Acura TLX Type-S Foreshadowing a New Generation of Acura Performance Cars?by Dim Angelov, on LISTEN 09:25
June 2021 was an important day for Acura and their TLX Type-S, as the new performance sedan finally hit the market. To recap, Acura will only produce 2,000 examples of the TLX Type-S. It is unknown at this point how many of the 2,000 will be the model year 2021 and how many 2022. The real question is whether or not Acura is testing the waters to decide whether it should expand production beyond the initial run of 2,000 cars.
2022 Acura TLX Type S
Drivetrain & Performance
The Acura TLX Type-S has the 3.0-liter V-6 engine, featuring a twin-scroll turbocharger. The V-6 is developed by the same team that worked on the Acura NSX.
The unit produces 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet (480 Nm) and is coupled to a specially-tuned 10-speed automatic that has been beefed up in order to effortlessly handle the power from the turbocharged V-6.
Power is sent to the ground via Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system (SH-AWD). All this allows for a 0 to 6 0 mph (97 km/h) time of 4.5 seconds.
This is a marginal improvement in straight-line performance, compared to its predecessor -the 2004 Acura TL Type-S, which boasted a 5.1-second sprint to 60 mph (97 km/h) thanks to its 3.5-liter normally-aspirated V-6 with 286 horsepower and 256 pound-feet (347 Nm).
At the same time, Type-S is capable of a reasonable economy. You are looking at an EPA rating of 19 mpg in the city and up to 25 mpg on the highway.
|0 to 60 mph||4.5 seconds|
The TLX Type-S also benefits from the specially-tuned double-wishbone front suspension and adaptive dampers. It also utilizes the NSX electro-servo braking system and four-piston Brembo calipers with signature red shims. All this is accompanied by a strengthened chassis for that extra composure and sporty feel.
The TLX Type-S can be had in two well-equipped trims. As standard, you get 20-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli Centudato P7. Or, you can opt for the “Wheel and Tire” package, which gives you lightweight dual-spoke wheels, inspired by the NSX wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero summer tires. The wheels also reduce unsprung weight by over 21 pounds (9.5 kg).
In terms of exterior features, you will be able to tell this isn’t your average TLX.
You get a more aggressive front end, with a larger front grille, for better cooling as well as larger side vents, and a pronounced front splitter.
While on the side, things are largely the same (except the wheels), but the rear definitely gives out the sportier aspirations of the car. We now have a small, but noticeable decklid spoiler and a new diffuser, complemented by the now black area for the number plate and the new quad exhaust tips.
There are a couple of changes to the interior that set apart the Type-S from your average TLX. On the dashboard, we see a chunkier, flat-bottom steering wheel, and hand-stitched leather with contrasting stitching on the dashboard. We also have slightly more aggressive seats, which are highly adjustable (16-way), including the side bolstering. There are also the obligatory Type-S logos throughout the interior. Other than that, it’s the same interior like on the normal TLX.
A good thing too, since the interior was already very well-executed and with perfect ergonomics. You also have a physical button for many of the functions, which makes the TLX much easier to live with, on a daily basis.
The 10.2-inch infotainment screen is easy to use and you get an easy-to-read gauge cluster, but best of all, you can switch to “Sport mode” with the press of a single button.
The Acura TLX Type-S might be more about performance, but it’s still very much a family sedan.
You’ll be glad to know, it still does a perfect job as one. With 42.4 inches 1,077 mm) of front legroom and 34.9 inches (886.5 mm) of rear legroom the TLX Type-S is not that far off something like a Toyota Camry TRD, and that’s front-wheel-drive only.
In terms of cargo capacity, the Acura boasts just 13.5 cubic-feet due to the chassis bracing in the back. If you feel like removing it, you will get a more usable trunk space.
The Acura TLX Type-S is already on sale and has an MSRP of $52,300. If you want the “Wheel and Tire” package, the price becomes $53,100. With destination, it comes up to $53,325 and $54,125 respectively. Considering the level engineering and the luxury sedan segment, The Acura TLX Type-S is competitively priced, if not a bit ambitiously.
|Model / Trim||MSRP2||MSRP with Destination3||EPA Mileage Rating4 City/Hwy/Combined|
|2021 TLX Type S||$52,300||$53,325||19 / 25 / 21|
|2021 TLX Type S with High Performance Wheel & Tire Package||$53,100||$54,125||19 / 24 / 21|
Since the TLX Type-S is a performance version of a normal sedan, it’s only fair we pit it against another performance version of a Japanese sports sedan. Enter the Toyota Camry TRD. It debuted in August 2020 as the exciting version of the rather dull front-wheel-drive Camry. That said, Toyota’s racing division has given the Camry a sportier look, as well as some performance modifications, most of which involve tweaking the chassis and suspension.
The Camry TRD offers more interior space, overall. While the front legroom is slightly less than the Type-S at 42.1 inches (1,069.3 mm), the rear legroom is 38.0 inches (965.2 mm). At the same time, Camry TRD offers 15.1 cubic feet (427.6 liters) of trunk space. Price-wise the Camry TRD is a bargain, starting at $31,040.
However, it’s severely outgunned in terms of performance. The 3.5-liter normally-aspirated V-6 produces 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet (362 Nm) and is mated to an eight-speed automatic. This allows for a 5.5-second sprint to 60 mph. Power goes to the front wheels only. Fuel economy is good, with an EPA of 22 city and 31 highway.
Read our full review on the Toyota Camry TRD
With an MSRP of over $50,000, the Acura TLX Type-S goes into German territory. And when we talk about German performance sedans, the benchmark is still considered the BMW 3-Series. More specifically, the M340i, which starts at $54,700 - just a hair over the TLX Type-S pricetag.
Like all modern BMWs, the M340i is a tech-fest. However, it’s still very much a proper performance sedan, powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six. This is where the Type-S might be in trouble, as the German inline-six produces 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet (500 Nm). Power goes to the rear or, optionally, all four wheels, through a ZF eight-speed automatic. The M340i is capable of a 4.1-second sprint to 60 mph, which is also quicker than the Type-S.
Interior space is adequate with 42.0 inches (1,067.8 mm) of frontal legroom, 35.2 (894.1 mm) at the back, and 17.0 cubic feet (481.4 liters) of trunk space. As with most German propositions, any optional equipment comes with a hefty price tag, which can bring the M340i’s price well over the $54,700 mark.
Read our full review on the BMW M340i
By introducing the Type-S, Acura has turned the TLX from a sedate luxury cruiser into a proper performance sedan. The TLX Type-S retains what’s best about the model – the excellent interior – and combines it with the technical ingenuity of the team, responsible for the NSX drivetrain. In addition, the SH-AWD system gives the sporty sedan previously unthinkable levels of traction.
One question remains: Would Acura go through all this research and development just for a limited run of 2,000 cars? Or are we in for a pleasant surprise, later on? The Type-S moniker came to us with a bang, back in 1997, with the Honda NSX Type-S and gave birth to various mild performance versions, sitting under the Type-R models.
With this in mind, could we be witnessing the rebirth of the Type-S too, or is the TLX Type-S a single exercise in whether Acura is still good at making performance versions of its cars?