Acura TL Type-S comes with a handsome interior
17 April, 2007
Acura TL Type-S comes with a handsome interior
Except for its front-wheel drive and lack of an all-wheel-drive option, the new Acura TL Type-S comes close to performing as well as the best German road machines.
The Type-S was brought back for ‘07 after a three-year absence.
Under the hood is a potent, 286-hp. V-6 engine derived from that in Acura’s flagship RL sedan. The performance-tuned suspension of the Type-S is potent, too, especially on one’s bottom. The handling is as tight as the proverbial drum, but the ride is very hard.
Except for the front-drive layout, which means some torque steer on hard acceleration, the ride is the only serious downside of this car, and I’d suggest you not minimise it if you routinely drive long distances and/or on bad roads. If so, the more basic TL might be a better choice.
On sale since September, the basic TL starts at $34,295 with freight, including automatic transmission and a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine that delivers 258 hp — more than enough for most driving situations.
Both the basic and Type-S received interior and exterior updates for ‘07, including new headlamps and tail lamps and a redesigned available five-speed automatic transmission. Acura also added satellite-based communications to its navigation system, with real-time traffic information available optionally.
And Acura says it retuned the suspension of the basic TL to improve ride comfort.
The Type-S gets a sport-tuned suspension setup, of course, as well as steering calibrated for higher effort and better “on-center’’ feel.
In the Type-S, the automatic can be shifted with paddles located behind the steering wheel; in both TLs drivers also can shift manually with the console-mounted gearshift lever.
With four-piston Brembo brake calipers at the ready, the Type-S stops as well as it goes.
Acura also says the Type-S has its own high-flow exhaust system, but you’ll hear little evidence of it unless you accelerate hard; at cruising speeds the engine is quiet.
The TL’s cabin is well-insulated against noise. Acura credits “active noise cancellation’’ for some of that. The system senses cabin noise through a microphone in the headliner and then creates opposite sound waves to cancel the noise, using the radio speakers.
The Type-S is offered in four variants, starting at $38,125 with freight: with a six-speed stick shift or the five-speed automatic transmission I sampled, and with or without high-performance tires, Bridgestone Potenza summer models.
Since the automatic transmission is a no-cost option, the price differences among the four variants are no more than $200.
A price pushing $40,000 with tax is hardly chump change, but a 2007 Mercedes C-Class with anything approaching this much power (the 268-hp. C350) will set you back $39,375.
A Lexus ES 350 will hit $38,000 as soon as the navigation system/Mark Levinson stereo package is added.
And you’ll need to spend $39,675 with freight (for 335hp.) to get a BMW that will outpower the Type-S, and you’ll have to add almost $1,300 more for an automatic transmission. But the BMW is rear-wheel drive, the layout preferred for sport sedans, with an all-wheel option available.
At least in pure horsepower for dollars, Infiniti has the edge in this class.
Not far behind in bang for the buck is Lexus’ IS 350 Sport, also rear-wheel drive, listing for $36,420, and packing 306 hp.
Note also if you’re not in a hurry to buy your near-luxury sedan that redesigned versions of the both the C-Class and Cadillac CTS are about to arrive. And note also that a new Accord due in the fall suggests that an all-new TL can’t be far behind.
Acura’s bestselling model, the TL, is not to be confused with the smaller and less expensive TSX, a sedan that shares basics with a smaller version of the Accord sold in Europe and Japan.
As you’d expect for $38,125, the Type-S comes loaded, with a navigation system and AcuraLink, a satellite-based communication system between the car and Acura; perforated leather seats; tilt and telescoping wheel; moon roof; an XM-satellite-capable stereo that can also play CDs, DVDs and even cassettes; dual-heated and power-adjustable seats; and 17-inch-by-8-inch W-rated tires (up to 186 mph).
The handsome interior has a look that’s all business, with a richly textured dashboard and door panelling, accented by carbon fibre and a dash of chrome trim and stainless steel pedals.
Luxury car shoppers also considering models like the C-Class, CTS and Lincoln MKZ might deem the TL a bit too understated, but those whose tastes lean toward BMW and Audi interiors probably will find the S-Type’s to their liking.
The TL has a very good, though not perfect, safety rating from the federal government: five out of a possible five stars for frontal impact protection and five out of five for a rear-seat passenger’s side impact protection, but four out of five stars for the driver’s side-impact protection.
The tougher Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the car “good’’ in frontal and side protection, based on its crash tests, but last week rated the TL (and a bunch of others) “marginal’’ in the protection offered by its seats and head restraints in rear collisions.
Like Hondas, Acuras tend to score highly in owner surveys by Consumer Reports and J D Power and Associates that measure vehicle quality, while Acura dealers tend to do well in surveys of overall customer satisfaction with the sales and servicing process.
And Acura backs its cars with a better-than-average warranty of four years/50,000 miles, with an extra two years or 20,000 miles on the powertrain.
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service