After spending a whole month with our long-term 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec, I had excessive hopes for the brand new TLX Kind S. Whenever you begin from a great base, meaning issues can solely get higher, proper? The chassis beneath the bottom TLX’s flashy sheetmetal is a factor of brilliance. This four-door is taut and responsive the way in which you count on a high-performance German sport sedan to be, and the SH-AWD system is likely one of the finest within the enterprise, vastly aiding its agility.
However not the whole lot in regards to the TLX A-Spec with its 2.0-turbo four-cylinder is ideal within the fun-to-drive column. The ten-speed transmission is mediocre at finest, and whereas the engine makes a great noise, an Accord with its 2.0-turbo can outrun it in a straight line. There’s sufficient thrust to maintain issues vigorous, nevertheless it’s not going to boost your pulse.
Enter the TLX Kind S. It marks Acura’s mighty return to efficiency vehicles (past the NSX), and it’s an opportunity for Acura to handle our points with the usual TLX. Let’s get into it.
The Kind S boots out the four-cylinder in favor of Acura’s completely new 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. This engine is unique to the Kind S in the intervening time, and it’s a winner. Don’t count on a high-revving traditional Honda expertise, although. As a substitute, similar to the brand new turbocharged Civic Kind R, this V6 is a torque monster. The height 354 pound-feet hits low within the rev band at 1,400 rpm then carries on as much as 5,000. Its peak 355 horsepower is made at 5,500 rpm, and redline comes shortly thereafter at 6,200.
Acura nonetheless discovered a option to make this comparatively low-revving V6 sound extra frenzied than it truly is. The journey as much as redline in Sport and Sport+ (which opens the lively exhaust valves) is music to the ears. It’s not punishingly loud, however the pitch will increase with revs to a a lot larger observe than you would possibly suspect. Open the home windows, and also you’ll additionally get some turbo-spooling noises for much more drama. The character and character degree of this engine is off the charts in comparison with the usual 2.0T. Solely BMW’s inline-six — within the M340i — gives up a equally attractive noise.
The pull from this engine matches the sound it makes, too. Good luck discovering a lifeless spot or weak level anyplace, as a result of it doesn’t exist. There’s no cliff of torque on the finish of the meaty rev band, and whereas the Kind S may not win each stoplight drag race — Acura estimates an roughly 5-second journey to 60 mph — it’s a lot fast sufficient to have a hell of a great time in. It doesn’t trouble me for a second that this Acura V6’s 355 horsepower is lower than you’ll discover in an M340i, AMG C 43 or Q50 Purple Sport 400. Acceleration is a lot to get going method too quick on a again street, and the engine is an entertaining accomplice on the way in which there. Contemplate this field checked emphatically.
Subsequent up in my checklist of complaints about the usual TLX is the 10-speed transmission. That model is sluggish to answer paddle inputs, and the tuning in Sport mode frustrates by too typically discovering itself within the mistaken gear whenever you need the revs to be up. Acura significantly overhauled this 10-speed for the Kind S with a brand new torque converter, stronger inner gears, improved clutches and a devoted transmission cooler.
The revisions permit for 40% faster downshifts and 30% faster upshifts than earlier than, and I imagine it. Pop it into the brand new (Kind S unique) Sport+ mode, and this transmission is within the prime tier of torque converter automatics on the subject of shift speeds and gear-selection smarts. Acura remodeled this 10-speed into a beautiful gearbox, and it makes driving the TLX Kind S considerably extra enjoyable and satisfying. The response instances and shifting expertise are much like what you would possibly get out of a BMW product fitted with the ZF eight-speed. A lot of shifting occurs, too, as a result of the primary few gears are spaced so shut collectively. That’s nice enjoyable getting off the road rapidly, however I discovered it higher to only let the pc deal with issues than sustain with the fixed shifting. Issues area additional out within the mid and better gears, which is the place it’s extra enjoyable to make use of the paddles. That’s drawback field quantity two, checked.
Acura manages to carry this further efficiency to the Kind S with out sacrificing each day driving civility. Twist the NSX-style drive-mode selector into Consolation, and this Kind S trundles alongside simply as sedately and easily as the two.0T. Shifts are seamless. The exhaust shuts up. And the experience coddles. It’s the very definition of a twin menace.
Enhancing the TLX’s dealing with was absolutely the purpose of the Kind S, however don’t shortchange what Acura began with. Acura has stated that the usual automotive’s construction and chassis are constructed to “Kind S” requirements of dealing with, and it seems like that on the street. That stated, the Kind S does attempt to enhance issues.
From the second you set off, the extra bracing, body stiffeners, stiffer stabilizer bars and stiffer springs and dampers are apparent. The automotive feels extra of a bit, which is an accomplishment contemplating how effectively the usual automotive drives. Don’t suppose the Kind S brings this Acura as much as Kind R ranges of dealing with prowess, although. Go get a Civic Kind R if you’d like the top of efficiency from the Honda/Acura crew.
As a substitute, the Kind S finds its dwelling in a center floor of efficiency, similar to its M340i, S4 and AMG C 43 rivals from Germany. The non-compulsory Pirelli P Zero summer time tires that wrap NSX-inspired wheels are an $800 must-buy. The grip offered by this rubber together with the torque vectoring SH-AWD system is a factor of magnificence. It imparts within the driver sufficient confidence to easily flat-foot it by way of corners, leaning on the substantial grip and trick differential to type issues out. With a mild flick of its tail, the Kind S comes out the opposite aspect of a nook bolting down the street with a stunning quantity of momentum.
There’s a predictable, mild lean as you arc by way of corners. I want I might say the burden switch and feeling of the entrance finish had been excellent, however the pesky four-cylinder ruined me. The V6 is extra nose-heavy: 59/41 entrance/rear weight distribution in comparison with 57/43 for the four-cylinder. And that further weight up entrance makes the nostril really feel barely heavier in comparison with the 4. The impact is much like going from an EcoBoost Mustang to a 5.0. It’s not almost sufficient to make me denigrate the Kind S mannequin’s dealing with, nevertheless it’s one thing that’s noticeable having pushed each variations of the automotive. Even when geared up with the light-weight wheels on our tester, the Kind S is heavy at 4,200 kilos — that’s 230 kilos greater than our A-Spec, and sadly that weight achieve is within the mistaken spot.
Fortunately, the brand new and bigger Brembo brakes are as much as the duty of bringing the TLX Kind S to a cease. Brake fade was nonexistent on the street, and on the monitor at Laguna Seca, they held up simply superb, too. The pedal is likely one of the finest on the market with a brief and stiff stroke that reacts the second you start to breathe on it.
These massive red-painted Brembos with Acura spelled out on them look nice tucked behind the wheels. Acura’s complete exterior bundle for this automotive is the proper degree of aggro, too. The one objects which may be questionable are the big quad exhaust ideas prominently poking out the again. They sound the half, although, they usually’re 100% actual, so I’m nonetheless giving them a thumbs up. And do pay the additional $500 for this Kind S-exclusive Tiger Eye Pearl paint — it’s the perfect colour in Acura’s palette.
The massive query left hanging right here is, must you purchase the Kind S over its established German opponents? That will depend on your priorities. A Kind S, which comes absolutely loaded with each luxurious characteristic Acura gives, might be had for 1000’s lower than any of the Germans when geared up equally. Chances are you’ll be a couple of half second slower to 60 mph within the Kind S, however you’d pay much more to get that half second and all of the tools elsewhere. The dialog will get messier when the Cadillac CT5-V and Genesis G70 enter — each are rattling good efficiency sedans. However the TLX Kind S is earnestly mixing it up with the perfect of them, and there’s little question it’s adequate to earn a spot within the driveways of driving fanatics in all places.