Acura brings back the Type S on the newly sculpted and scalpeled TLX
It's been a decade since the turbocharged Type S performance spec lurked around Acura dealerships, but now it comes roaring back atop a second-generation TLX sedan that brings a big injection of sportiness. Packing a new all-turbo engine lineup, available torque vectoring AWD and dual-wishbones up front, the 2021 TLX debuts as Acura's self-proclaimed quickest, best-handling, most well-appointed sedan ever.
"With this new TLX, we're doubling down on what today's sport sedan enthusiasts are asking for – a more stylish, personal and performance-focused driving experience," says Jon Ikeda, vice president and Acura brand officer. "This is unquestionably our most ambitious redesign of an Acura sedan."
Acura's focus on performance and style is immediately apparent when looking at the new TLX. The sedan has been stretched by just short of 3 inches (7.6 cm) to 194.6 in (494.3 cm), its wheelbase pulled out even farther, by 3.7 inches (9.4 cm). The noticeably longer hood is accentuated further by the pushed-back glasshouse that all but eliminates the rear deck lid, resulting in a decidedly more coupe-like silhouette than the outgoing TLX.
Wandering around to the front view, the tracks gain more than an inch (2.5 cm) as part of a 2.2-in (5.6-in) widening overall. That extra width underpins a stronger face with more precisely carved and sculpted features. The Jewel Eye LED headlamps are slimmer and sharper than the outgoing TLX lights, as is the pentagonal grille splitting them. The lower bumper is all about airflow, eliminating the body-matched center with a more aggressive array of vents. The changes are mirrored out back, where tautened taillights, a trunk-splitting crease and stretched dual exhaust tips create a memorable parting image.
Acura supports the new TLX's sportier guise with a host of mechanical upgrades, most notably the aforementioned return of the Type S performance spec. That range-topping model will come powered by an all-new 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine. Acura doesn't have output estimates to offer at present, but it has plenty of time to fill in those blanks before the model's spring 2021 debut.
The Type S will come standard with Acura's fourth-gen Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. The torque-vectoring system sends up to 70 percent of engine torque to the rear axle, splitting it between the wheels for sharper, more accurate turn-in and enhanced traceability through the corners. The system will also be available optionally on the base TLX with 272-hp 2.0-liter VTEC turbo.
Adding to the TLX's boosted handling is a combination of improved structural rigidity and double-wishbone front suspension. The newly developed TLX platform also includes electro-servo brake-by-wire tech trickled down from the NSX, variable-ratio steering and an available adjustable damper system. Along with normal, comfort and sport settings, the multi-mode dynamics system brings a new "individual mode," letting drivers separately tune settings of the SH-AWD, drive-by-wire throttle, 10-speed automatic transmission and other systems.
Safety enhancements include a new three-chamber front passenger airbag and the AcuraWatch suite of driver-assistance features with adaptive cruise control, driver awareness monitoring, traffic jam assist and traffic sign recognition.
Inside, Acura throws the focus on the driver by neatly splitting the driver and passenger seats with a wide center tunnel. A 7-in color multi-information display in the middle of the wraparound instrument panel puts data front and center, and an available 10.5-in head-up display adds a second layer. The infotainment system combines a 10.2-in HD display and console-mounted touchpad control system. In-vehicle 4G LTE keeps the new TLX connected, offering cloud-based services like emergency roadside assistance and stolen vehicle tracking.
The 2021 Acura TLX will launch in US fall 2020 with a starting price in the mid-US$30,000s, the Type S following next year. The sedans will be built exclusively at Acura's Marysville, Ohio, plant.