Acura is on a mission to win back enthusiasts and drivers who aren’t willing to simply accept boring cars, and the company’s top brass is going all-in with the all-new 2021 TLX sport sedan as the car to do it.
Before we get to the mechanical details (and there are many) of how exactly the TLX will accomplish that lofty goal, some context is necessary to understand why this is such a big deal, not just for the brand, but for anyone who enjoys driving.
Following the ground-breaking Acura NSX hybrid supercar, the new TLX is the next step in the brand’s plan to get back to its core DNA, according to Emile Korkor, assistant vice president of sales and marketing at Acura Canada.
“We made our name in the performance segment; that’s how Acura got its start,” Korkor told Sharp. He’s referring to cars like the 1987 Legend sedan which shook up the German luxury establishment, and the Integra Type R of the ’90s. Anybody who enjoyed the OG Fast and Furious movies dreamed about owning that car. It was an attainable Ferrari for a generation of teenagers. To have a product like that is the envy of every car company, or, for that matter, every brand. (Today, the ‘Tegra Type R is one of the hottest collectables on the classic market, with values fast approaching $100,000.)
That was a long time ago though. Acura is a bigger company now. “Once we started to shift gears, focusing more on SUVs and going into more of a tier-1 luxury mode, we kind of diluted our DNA a little bit,” Korkor said. Still, Acura never forgot what it was capable of — the NSX proved that — and enthusiasts never forgot either. Those teenagers are now grown-up and they have money to spend.
Enter the all-new TLX. No pressure, then.
No Corners Cut: TLX and Type S in Detail
Acura claims the 2021 TLX will be the brand’s, “quickest, best-handling and most well-appointed sport sedan.”
It’s built on a dedicated new Acura sedan platform, not shared with other brands. Note the lower, wider stance, the longer hood, and cabin that’s pushed rearward. The wheelbase is much longer too, which means more cabin space and ensures it looks like a bonafide luxury car now.
In terms of design, we’re pleased to see much has been carried over from the lovely Type S concept car shown last year. It’s a surprisingly clean design, with no bad angles and great proportions.
Excuse us for getting geeky for a moment, but this is important: the TLX uses a complex double-wishbone front suspension design, just like the NSX supercar and the Integra Type R. That — combined with the fact the entire body is much stronger and stiffer — should translate into nimble, responsive handling, more comfort, and better feel through the steering.
“We’re doing new things with SUVs…but the real exhilaration, the real fun, can only really be experienced in a car,” Korkor said. Frankly, we agree. A sedan has inherent advantages in terms of less weight and a lower centre of gravity. Basic physics tells you as much.
Under the hood of the regular TLX is a new a 2.0-litre turbo motor with 66 more horsepower and nearly 100 lb-ft more torque than the outgoing entry engine. Peak output is 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.
The version we’re really looking forward to though is the TLX Type S. It gets an all-new 3.0-litre turbocharged, direct injected V6 motor that’s exclusive to the Acura brand, as well as a new torque-vectoring version of Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. Its Brembo braking system takes tech lifted from the NSX too.
You’ll be able to tell the Type S apart by its diamond-pattern grille, aggressive spoilers front and rear, big diffuser, quad exhaust pipes and fat 20-inch wheels.
Acura isn’t saying yet how much power that new V6 in the Type S will make, only that it’ll be a dramatic improvement over the old 3.5-litre non-turbo V6.
“There was a lot of hype for the NSX,” Korkor said, “but this [TLX] is probably one of the most anticipated cars in our history. You want to bring back the G.O.A.T.? This is gonna be it.”
Expect more details on the 2021 Type S closer to its arrival in Canada next spring. The 2021 TLX will arrive at dealerships early this fall with a price in the low $40,000 range.