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Acura 3.2CL Type-S (2001)

SEE ALSO: Acura Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


     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 @ 3500 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  106.9"/70.6"/192.0"
     Transmission                           Five-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3532 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  17.2 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                  215/50R17 93V
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                 70 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            19/29/25          
     0-60 MPH                                        7.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          15.0 seconds @ 95.5 mph
     Top speed                                           N/A mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

The 2001 Acura 3.2CL demonstrates the fact that there's a resurgence in the public's interest in personal coupes.

The 3.2CL comes as two models: base (a misnomer because of its long standard features list) and the Type S, the version we tested.

OUTSIDE - CL styling has changed somewhat. It has a more edgy shape, and is a bit more contemporary. Based on the company's "global midsize platform," the American version of the CL shares mechanicals with the Honda Accord and Acura 3.2 TL. The new model is wider, longer and taller than before, though its 106.9-inch wheelbase has been retained. Its sleek, graceful shape sits atop a chassis that is stronger in bending rigidity but it weighs about 300 pounds more. Improvements such as reinforced side sills, thicker floor cross-members and stronger roof pillars have given CL buyers increased protection in crashes. The Type S comes standard with five-spoke alloy wheels and grippy 215/50R17 high performance tires.

INSIDE - Better noise isolation, achieved through the use of foam sound barriers in all body pillars, triple door seals and asphalt sandwich sheeting in the floor, makes the ride inside quieter. Soft, well-bolstered front bucket seats are powered and feature a power walk-in feature that automatically slides them forward for easier access to the rear. The rear seating is tight, which can be expected from a car classified as a compact by the EPA, but the in-seat storage cubby and lockable pass-through are both usable features. New this year is Acura's new Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), a system built into the front passenger seatback that senses the position and size of its occupant, then determines the rate of deployment of the side and front airbags in the event of a crash. Standard CL interior features includes leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic climate control, HomeLink system, power windows, mirrors and door locks, power moonroof, Bose-brand stereo system with steering wheel audio controls.

ON THE ROAD - Thankfully, the four-cylinder version has been discontinued, leaving two versions of the same V6 as the power choice. The standard CL uses a 3.2-liter, single overhead-cam V6 that produces a healthy 225 horsepower and 217 lb-ft of torque. This engine moves the standard CL with authority, but the big news is the hot-rod version that's under the hood of the Type S. Acura takes the same unit, with its all-aluminum architecture, and increases the compression ratio to 10.5:1, fits a dual-stage induction system, installs "hotter" camshafts to work with its VTEC variable valve timing system, then adjusts the engine management program accordingly. The result is 35 more horsepower and 15 more lb-ft of torque. This is lot of power for its class, and with a 0-60 mph time of just around seven seconds, is easily able to out-perform coupes in its class costing thousands more. Mated to this a standard five-speed automatic transmission with SportShift, Acura's version of the latest trend in "automanual" transmissions. Also standard is the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) program, which helps CL drivers maintain control in emergency avoidance maneuvers.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - As expected, CL rides on a unibody platform, which is pretty much standard-issue these days. But with technological advances such as isolated front and rear subframes with vacuum- controlled hydraulic mounts, along with independent double wishbone suspension, the ride is as smooth and quiet as the best luxury cars on the road today. The Type S suspension has been tuned for a bit more performance than the standard CL, with a larger diameter stabilizer bar, stiffer springs and better rebound damping. The rack-and-pinion steering system has been improved this year to enhance steering feel, while its four-wheel disc brakes are larger, have an upgraded anti-lock braking system (ABS), stop better and cool faster than the original model.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard and side-impact airbags, ABS, OPDS and the VSA program are standard on both versions.

OPTIONS - There were no options on our test vehicle.