2021 Acura TLX Type S Performance Tire – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
A visually stunning "banzai" road runner
Photos and Story By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
It's highly unusual for a manufacturer to include "Performance Tire" in their official description of a vehicle. In the case of the TLX Type S the identifier serves as a quick way to differentiate the "S" version of the TLX from the more prosaic Standard, A-Spec and Advance models of this attractive sedan. Since Acura has put a naming right premium on this car's contact patch, let's take a closer look at the critical point where the rubber meets the road. The Type S utilizes 20in. diameter, NSX-derived, light weight alloy rims which support 255/35R20 Pirelli P Zero summer radials (TW 280). These grippy, ultra low profile tires do a superlative job of harnessing the 355hp produced by the intercooled and turbocharged V6 of the Type S. That's an increase of 83hp over the 272hp made by the turbo inline 4 standard in other versions of the TLX.
The Pirellis are the final element in a long chain of high performance improvements that distinguish the Type S from other TLX variants. For example, the Type S' front suspension utilizes control arms rather than more common MacPherson struts. A front spring rate increase of 40% works in consort with stiffer front and rear sway bars to provide a more precisely controlled ride. The stiffer body structure of the Type S also contributes to more precise handling. Acura has increased braking capability by installing 14.3 inch front brake rotors clamped by Brembo four piston calipers. Finally, the Type S benefits from a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system that keeps those beefy Pirellis glued to the road no matter how erratic the contact patch becomes.
All these unseen improvements convert the TLX from a moderately enjoyable back road ride into banzai road runner. One extended early morning run up Coast Route 1 left us marveling that such ultra high performance is available in a satin smooth package like the Type S for a base price of just $53,400. That turbo V6 spools up instantaneously thanks to a torque output of 354lb.-ft. that peaks at just 1500rpm. The 0-60mph run transpires in 4.9 seconds, while the standing start quarter mile run takes 13.6 seconds at 103mph. The Type S tops out 155mph.
The 10 speed automatic gearbox provides aluminum paddles adjacent to the steering wheel. We never found a need to run the Acura past 5th gear in our Coast Route romp. If you leave the shift selector in Drive, the gearbox will quickly defer to a higher gear unless you blip the paddles for a downshift. If you want to micro manage shifting, hit the "D" button on the gear selector a second time to activate "S" for Sport. In "S" the transmission locks itself in your chosen gear until you upshift or downshift via paddle. However, if the engine speed reaches 6000rpm, the transmission automatically switches to a higher gear.
The cockpit treatment of the Type S is visually stunning. Acura has concocted a specially upholstered pair of front sport seats that are heated and handsome. Better yet, they're supportive in all the right places when you're locked into high threshold motoring. Finished in putty with orchid racing stripes, the seats lend visual distinction to an interior that also benefits from tastefully applied swatches of carbon fiber. Instrumentation is distinctive, with oversize silver speedo and tachometer faces featuring dayglow red numbers and pointers. The numerals can be hard to read. Rear seating is tight but comfortable, and interior build quality is impeccable. Although the turbo motor is built in Japan, the Type S is constructed with great care at Acura's final assembly facility in Marysville, Ohio.
We still don't understand the logic behind the operation of Acura's True Touchpad Interface. While it can be manipulated somewhat successfully while stationary, its operation presents an unnecessary hazard while underway. Frontal vision from the driver's seat of the Type S is occluded by the high plane of the front hood and its twin peaked ridges. We missed heating on the steering wheel and also lamented lack of a back window wiper. But that's a very short list of problem issues. To Acura's credit, the Type S TLX is a superlative new sporting sedan.
2021 ACURA TLX TYPE S PERFORMANCE TIRE
- ENGINE: 3.0 liter V6, turbocharged and intercooled, DOHC, 24-valve, aluminum block and heads, Direct Fuel Injection
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 19MPG City/24MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $54,625
HYPES: High-g Cornering, Bargain Price
GRIPES: True Touch Interface follies
STAR RATING: 9.5 Stars out of 10