New Car/Review

Acura

Acura 3.2CL Type S (2001)

SEE ALSO: Acura Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 30,330
     Price As Tested                                    $ 30,785
     Engine Type              SOHC 24-valve 3.2 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 196 cid/3210 cc
     Horsepower                                   260 @ 6100 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               232 @ 5500 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  108.1"/70.7"/192.5"
     Transmission           Five-speed automatic with SportShift
     Curb Weight                                     3713 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  17.2 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                           215/50R17 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Five-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                 70 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            19/29/25
     0-60 MPH                                        7.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          15.5 seconds @ 94.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           130 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(The Type S Acura 3.2CL is of the modern genre of GT coupes says Bob Hagin. His son Matt says if it had another 25 horses and a stick shift, it would qualify for Acura's fabled Type R designation.)

MATT - There's a fine line between a Grand Touring car and a hard-charging sports sedan. Acura has gone over the line in the past when it put a box full of high-performance parts on its Integra two-door, tacked the Type R logo on the trunk and produced an almost legendary factory hot-rod. By putting the Type S emblem on this new 3.2CL, the company places it in a category somewhere between a luxurious family car and thinly disguised racer.

BOB - That's true, Matt, and Acura is one of many auto makers who realize that there's a market niche for coupes like this. The Type S 3.2CL was designed for the 30-to-50 year old semi-enthusiast who doesn't want or need a high-stressed, highly tuned street racer to commute to work in, but still wants to have better-than-average acceleration and handling. Its power comes from an all-aluminum 60-degree V6 that utilizes most of Honda's high-tech engineering. It carries a single camshaft on each head and the valve timing uses a variable timing system that provides good torque at relatively low engine revs but switches over to different cam profiles to give equally good power at high revs. Its compression ratio is 10.5-to-one, which pretty well rules out low-octane fuel.

MATT - The "normal" 3.2CL has lower compression, less "aggressive" cam timing and different porting to produce 35 less horsepower. The chassis on the two are pretty much the same, with a very slick double- wishbone-and-coil-spring suspension on both ends but on the Type S version, the shocks are calibrated to be progressively tighter the harder they're used. The hollow sway bar up front is the same diameter on both cars, but the rear unit is a bit larger in diameter. The Type S also has 17-inch alloy wheels and slightly wider high-performance tires. Being front-engined with front-wheel drive, its weight bias is towards the front, so it has a tendency to understeer a bit when it's pushed into a relatively tight turn, but this doesn't affect its handling much in normal driving.

BOB - The Type S has anti-lock braking, of course, and it works in conjunction with Honda's stability assistance system to assist in keeping its driver out of trouble. It calculates in advance what the car is getting into based on what various chassis sensors tell the computer system is going on at the moment. If the cornering forces of the tires is being exceeded by "spirited" driving on the part of the driver, the assist system steps in and applies pressure to individual brakes as well as reducing the amount of fuel being injected into the engine. I've never utilized the system, but it would be interesting to try it out on a controlled skid pad to see how well it works.

MATT - The interior is typically Acura luxurious. The driver's front seat is adjustable eight ways but the passenger has to be content with only four. The interior is all leather and polished wood, and there are redundant audio controls on the steering wheel for the stereo system, which includes an in-dash six-disc CD changer. I really appreciated the automatic dimming feature on the rear-view mirror that prevents the driver from being blinded by numb-headed drivers who don't dim their headlights when they come from behind. There's no outside trunk lock on the 3.2CL and it has to be opened with the keyless remote, but if there's a problem a button on the driver's door panel will open it as well. If the electrical system goes down, somebody can also climb into the trunk through a rear seat pass-through and open the trunk lid the old fashioned way - by hand.

BOB - What an ignominious situation that would be, having to crawl into the trunk of a carriage-trade coupe head first to retrieve golf clubs from an Acura that has a dead battery. But I guess it's better than losing out on a tee-time on a busy course. There's always time to call the auto club for help after the 18th hole.

 

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