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Review: 2002 Acura 3.2 CL Type S

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SEE ALSO: Acura Buyer's Guide

By Annabelle Frankl

My first time driving an Acura and what a pleasant surprise. Looks great, drives amazingly well, and has all the gadgets and gizmos one could possibly need. Indeed, a well-kept secret, from me, at least, if not from all those loyal Acura drivers.

The Type S is Acura’s way of saying that you’ve got even more power, performance and handling capability than the normal CL, including an extra 35hp, thanks to a higher compression ratio (10:5:1), plus the fact that engine efficiency is improved through better heat transfer, courtesy of lighter weight spin-cast iron cylinder wall liners.

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Add to this a dual stage induction system, which broadens the engine’s torque curve and extracts and additional 16 lb-ft of peak torque and the result is, well, a lot of fun. The S’s torque ‘sweet spot’ is also extended by way of a ‘supercharger’ that, above 3,800rpm, gives improved airflow, thus widening the torque band. This all means that the 3.2 liter SOHC VTEC V6 produces 260hp @ 6100rpm and 232 lb-ft of torque @ 3500-5500 rpm.

The Type S gives a wonderfully solid ride – really sporty, with great handling. It features a more rigid chassis than the normal CL, with stiffer front and rear springs, increased damper compression, and larger-diameter rear stabilizer bar, which all act to reduce body roll during cornering. Combined with 8 vehicle- stability assist sensors, which monitor traction control, ABS and the stability enhancement measures – a smooth ride is virtually guaranteed. The ABS is 3-channel, but if high cornering forces are sensed (as in, ‘uh oh, I think I came into that one a bit fast’), it automatically switches to 4 channel, giving the rear wheels independence of each other, and applies higher brake pressure to the outer rear wheel. All rather clever.

The Type S is as much of a joy to sit in as it is to drive.

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Interior specs are great, from the Bose 6-CD in dash, to a huge moonroof, a beautiful dash layout (with chrome trim and classy white dials – although I could do without the plastic ‘wood’), a DVD-based navigation system, which is about the only thing that’s optional, and, of course, electric everything, from windows and doors, to steering wheel controls for audio and cruise control. There’s also actual leg room for the 2 rear passengers, imagine! But only 2, since it’s bucket seating. Plus a huge trunk, and a very nifty, lockable, pass-through between the seats, for anyone thinking of taking the Type S skiing. The 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat and 4-way passenger seat are good and firm and don’t let you fall off the side around corners. Visibility is very good, and I even got to test the windscreen wipers! Yes, rain in LA – actually torrential rain, and still the Type S held it’s own and handled well. And, yes, the wipers performed well too. (Believe me, you’d be surprised just how bad some can be!)

Given the quality of the CL Type S’s performance and handling, along with it’s high level of comfort and design, I’m really rather impressed by it’s asking price of $32,380, a price which includes many features that, on other vehicles, would result in an additional $2000-$3000. It’s sleek, quick, quiet, yet seats 4 in comfort, and will give you 19/29, city/highway efficiency. Show me the open road.