Rancho Santa Fe, California - Acura TL chief engineer Steve Sankovich admits that, in creating the new Type-S, "We sacrificed some ride comfort for better handling." After driving the car, we say it wasn't much of a sacrifice. The Acura 3.2 TL Type-S, a progeny of the Honda Accord chassis, handles unlike most mid-size sedans. It's actually fun to drive.
Dynamically, this TL variant has much in common with the CL Type-S coupe. Both Type-S models have the same engine, and the enhancements to the underpinnings are nearly identical. Compared with the base TL, the Type-S has firmer dampers and springs. A thicker rear anti-roll bar effectively suppresses body roll. Handling is further aided by Michelin MXM4 tires wrapped around new seventeen-inch rims.
A shifter adorned with a scarlet S hints at this TL's sporty attributes and controls the superb five-speed manu-matic transmission, whose shift points are so smooth they seemingly overlap. As in the standard TL, that transmission mates to a 3.2-liter V-6, which here makes an additional 35 horsepower--for a total of 260--thanks to higher compression and improvements to intake and exhaust flow. The VTEC engine's power comes more easily at higher revs, and its delivery is as confident as its growl.
The TL's face has been freshened from the A-pillars forward, but not so you'd gawk. The fascia's curvy headlights lend a more aggressive scowl, but, overall, the car's appearance is still very conservative.
To the TL's already long list of standard equipment, the Type-S adds torque-sensing variable-assist power steering, Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control, and perforated leather seats. At a premium of only $2500 over the base model, it's clear that one attribute the Type-S did not sacrifice is value.