While we will be the first to admit that we are huge fans of Acura’s A-Spec badging, there has always been a small problem. The ‘sport’ package that the A-Spec was marketed to be, came with exactly zero performance upgrades. Sure, it had the bark, but it was missing the bite that true enthusiasts want in a performance-oriented package. Acura had a package that gave us a bit more oomph, but it’s been nearly a decade and a half since we’ve last seen the Type-S badge on an Acura. The last two models were the TL and RSX Type-S and we miss them dearly. But, they say that history tends to repeat itself, and thankfully in 2021, we get to see the Type-S one more time in the form of the 2021 Acura TLX Type-S.
In either form, A-Spec or Type-S, the new Acura TLX Type-S is something that most Acura’s have not been — exciting! Honda and its luxury division have always erred on the side of the conservative, so as not to offend anyone, and appeal to as wide an audience as possible. But this new look has got style, attitude, and elicits thoughts and feelings we are not used to having in or around an Acura outside of the NSX. The long hood/short deck setup has a sporty aggressive look to it, combined with muscular lines along with its profile, and the clean rear end that even comes with quad exhaust tips, a rear diffuser, and a very subtle lip spoiler, all add up to an impressive and aesthetically appealing car from any angle. The taillights look to have been modeled after (if not taken exactly) from that aforementioned Acura NSX, which is probably not an accident, in helping to evoke that racing spirit.
While the standard TLX engine was no slouch, it was hardly enough to move a 4000-plus-pound vehicle in too much of a hurry. But thankfully, now Acura has bestowed a new 3.0-liter DOHC twin-turbo 24-valve V6 that produces a butt-hauling 355-horsepower and almost identical 354 lb-ft of torque. That power is then funneled through a quick-shifting 10-speed automatic and then on to all four wheels by way of Acura’s nigh-legendary torque-vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system. That system can now send up to 70 percent of total torque to the rear wheels and 100 percent of that torque to either the life or right wheel.
Acura also beefed up the suspension in the Type-S to match its newfound power. Dampers up front have been tuned for 4 percent more stiffness, while it’s up 9 percent in the rear. The front control-arm suspension springs are 40 percent stiffer, while the stabilizer bars on the front end are 9 percent larger, while the rear is up 31 percent. Overall torsional rigidity is raised up by 13 percent overall to give the Type-S a much more confidence-inspiring ride. Tuning of the transmission to shift 40 percent quicker works in conjunction with all of the other upgrades to help the Type-S rocket from 0-60 mph in just 5.3 seconds.
Of course, a big part of being able to go faster is being able to slow that power down. Massive four-piston Brembo calipers put the clamps down on 14.3-inch rotors up front and 13.0-inch discs out back. Those brakes are housed by lightweight 20-inch wheels shod in extremely sticky Pirelli P Zero summer tires. No official numbers are available, but we assume that the Acura TLX Type-S will be able to scrub off speed from 60-0 mph much faster than the 127 feet it takes the standard model.
Inside the Acura TLX Type-S is the perfect balance of sport and luxury. A flat-bottomed steering wheel highlights the beautiful Milano leather and suede interior, while the 10.2-inch infotainment screen takes control of all things electronic, while the 17-speaker ELS Studio audio system provides plenty of aural stimulation. There are two USB ports as well as a wireless charger, not to mention power-adjustable side bolsters, as well as heated and cooled front seats.
With a base price of $53,325, the TLX Type-S won’t break the bank, especially in the world of luxury sports sedans. So, it seems that history does repeat itself, and we are extremely grateful for that. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the Type-S badge on a new car, but with the TLX Type-S, it seems that it was well worth the wait