Acura For 1997
By Carey Russ
Acura, the first of the Japanese-based luxury divisions, has undergone some recent changes in its lineup. Car names have been dropped in favor of alphanumeric designations. The company introduced the TL series mid-luxury sedans, the RL flagship luxury sedan, SLX sport-utility vehicle, and CL coupe within the past year and a half. The Integra continues in coupe and sedan form, and a limited-production high-performance version of the Integra coupe will debut. The 1997 version of the ultra high-performance NSX sports car features a larger, more powerful engine and a 6-speed manual transmission.
Acura's new flagship luxury sedan is powered by the largest V6 engine the company has ever made, and is priced significantly below its V8-powered competition. According to Acura, it is the most refined, sophisticated sedan to carry the company's badge.
Among the refinements featured in the 3.5RL are an air filtration system that filters out almost all pollen, dust, and smoke particles, an engine that needs its first tune-up only at 100,000 miles, and an optional electronic navigation system.
The CL series of sports-luxury coupes are the first Acura cars to be designed, engineered, and built in this country. Designed in Torrance, California, and built at East Liberty, Ohio, the CL coupes are American cars for American driving.
Two models are offered. The 4-cylinder 2.2CL coupe was introduced last summer. The recently-introduced V6-powered 3.0CL uses the first mass-produced V6 application of the VTEC variable valve timing and lift system.
The quick little Integra coupes and sedans continue for 1997 with only minor revisions, except for the new limited-production, high-performance Type R.
The Integra Type R coupe puts the crown for highest specific power output in a mass-produced automobile engine back in Acura's possession. Its 1.8-liter, dual overhead cam. 16-valve VTEC engine makes 195 horsepower - over 108 horsepower per liter. The chassis has been upgraded as well, and the Type R is lower and lighter than an equivalent Integra GS-R. Special bodywork reduces aerodynamic lift and drag. Larger brakes and a racetrack-calibrated suspension are used. Interior trim is unique to the Type R, which will be available only in Championship White to commemorate Honda's first Formula One victory, by American driver Richie Ginther at the Mexican Grand Prix in 1965.
Introduced a year ago, the Acura SLX sport-utility has only minor changes to equipment for 1997.
The practical high-performance exotic sports car has even more performance for 1997. The aluminum, dual overhead cam V6 has increased from 3.0 liters to 3.2 liters, and horsepower is up to 290. The engine still features the VTEC variable valve timing and lift technology for smooth, powerful operation at all engine speeds. A 6- speed manual transmission is now used. Larger brakes, with an improved anti-lock system, new aluminum alloys for the body panels, and other mechanical and cosmetic enhancements complete the NSX package. Despite the changes and increased engine and brake size, weight is only up by 4 1/2 lbs.
An automatic-transmission model of the NSX is available. It uses a 3.0-liter, 252-horsepower version of the V6 and a Formula One- inspired SportShift with a steering column-mounted shifter.