Auto123 updatesReview of the 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec.
Unveiled at Monterey Car Week in August 2019, the Acura Type S concept certainly brought some hope back to fans of the luxury Honda brand. The brand that made its mark in North America with the Integra, NSX and Legend has lost some of its luster, at least in the car niche, Acura which has moved to the utility level for some time now.
A few weeks after the Californian unveiling of the Type S concept, Acura finally lifted the veil on the second generation of the TLX, the only sedan in the lineup that can boast of both sportiness and luxury. The least that can be said is that the production model strictly adheres to the guidelines imposed by the prototype.
I was able to take the wheel of the sportiest livery – while waiting for the one that will wear the Type S badge somewhere next spring – the Acura TLX A-SPEC 2021 which certainly does not lack charm with its red dress. Pearl performance. Let's go see if this livery, a little less energetic than the highly anticipated Type S, is worth the detour.
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A convincing look?
Even if it is true that the Acura TLX must play on two fronts – let us recall that its primary mission was to bring together buyers of the old TSX and TL -, I still consider that the TLX has more its place in sedans. luxury sports cars, a niche where we find the BMW 3 Series and Lexus IS of this world, to name just a few. And to convince the customers of this group of cars, you have to get up early. In short, the image projected by the design is almost as important as the performance of the car itself.
As far as the new TLX goes, I have to admit that this half-hearted evolution is paying off. If the old one was pretty, this new version is more straightforward, the integration of this inverted pentagon grille which is much more successful. Recall that the TLX made its debut with the old grid that has been criticized many times.
I also like that spoiler which accentuates the "duckbill" effect at the end of the trunk, as does the anthracite color of the 19-inch rims which look small (!) Inside the wheel arches. So, yes, the look is convincing in my opinion, although the Type S is going to win the prize for its consistency, that goes without saying.
RDX regulars should not be too disoriented when they see this dashboard, the Japanese manufacturer who revised its approach to this level a few years ago with its Acura Precision concept. The famous buttons of the automatic gearbox are frankly better integrated at the base of this dashboard, these being supplanted by this large brushed aluminum wheel. This is used to select the type of driving intended by the driver. A little further down, at the center console, there is also this touchpad that serves as a link between the occupants of the front seats and the 10.2-inch wide screen.
The console between the two occupants being larger, the designers managed to integrate a small circular button for the volume of the audio system and another to change the channels. Unfortunately, while the touchpad is impressive to use when the car is stationary, I still find it too difficult to use when all my attention must be focused on the road ahead. I still prefer a dial or, better yet, a classic touchscreen.
As for the rest, the dashboard exudes quality, the steering wheel is pleasant to handle, while the comfort aspect is perfectly mastered by this sedan, more welcoming than a Genesis G70, but a bit shorter than 'a BMW 5 Series, especially with these super soft seats. No doubt this sedan was designed for North America with more legroom and very comfortable two-row seats.
An injection of sportiness?
What is obvious when you take a look at the technical sheets of the TLX 2020 and the new version is this increase in the power of the 4-cylinder engine, the atmospheric block of 2.4-liters which leaves plenty of room for the 2.0-liter turbocharged unit, this engine already found on board the RDX and some other Honda products including the Civic Type R. In this form, the mill delivers a power of 272 horsepower and a torque of 280 lb-ft. We're talking about a gain of 66 horsepower, and 98 lb-ft! Even the gearbox is new, the 10-speed automatic unit which has also seen its use increase tenfold in recent years.
Under the right foot, it is therefore greatly improved, but what about other parameters, such as handling for example? Well, the TLX gets double wishbone suspension up front, which is good for those cornering at high speed. The rigidity of the chassis is also improved for this TLX 2.0 and it shows at the wheel.
Obviously, thanks to this central dial which changes the firmness of the steering and the dynamism of the powertrain, the TLX can play the role of a quiet and uneventful sedan (Comfort), from a sedan with sporting aspirations (Normal) to a sport sedan, the Sport mode being the most aggressive at this level, especially for the "electronic" rumble of the mechanics, Acura which amplifies the sound of the 4-cylinder turbo. Some will say it is an abomination, while others will find this more muscular sound to be sympathetic.
Personally, I find it acceptable, but I'm not ready to say that the TLX offers the most inspiring experience around. The good news is that you can choose your own tweaks using the Individual mode. That, I like that!
The final word
Frankly pleasant to live with on a daily basis, the 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec is undoubtedly a step forward for the brand's only recent sedan, the ILX, which still builds on the platform of the previous generation Honda Civic. I would have liked a little more sportiness or, at least, the adaptive suspension which, at the time of this writing, is limited to that more expensive Platinum Elite livery.
However, the A-SPEC version presents itself in a decidedly sportier atmosphere. Fortunately, the addition of the Acura A-SPEC Type S in the spring should sort out those slight details. In any case, the TLX's primary mission is to transport its passengers in a certain comfort and on this, the TLX does very well without exaggerating in terms of consumption with an average obtained of 10.5 L / 100 km.
Excellent all-wheel drive
Well adapted mechanics
We like less
No adjustable suspension on board the A-SPEC
Sportiness that will be revised aboard the Type S
The main competition
Alfa Romeo Giulia
BMW 3 Series