Before it decided to start building boring cars.
We can't seem to pinpoint the exact moment that Acura decided to throw away its reputation for creating reliable and affordable luxury card that were actually fun to drive. Perhaps it was when the company decided to stop offering its last manual transmission in the ILX or when it discontinued the wonderfully unique TSX wagon? We know that Acura is capable of building some truly great cars, but its current lineup is very disappointing. We wanted to look back and remember the good times with the five best cars that Acura ever built.
Some journalists, like Top Gear's Chris Harri,s really love the new NSX. We respect Chris Harris greatly, but don't share his enthusiasm for the new NSX. The original NSX was easy to drive and brought supercars to an affordable and reliable level. The new car is extremely unobtainable at $156,000 and follows the same overly complicated formula as almost every other supercar on the market. The Audi R8 was a better "affordable supercar" when it was first released back in 2008. The original NSX was a work of genius that was good enough to live from 1991 to 2005. Not every car is good enough to be sold for more than two decades without a major redesign.
The Acura RSX, and its predecessor the Integra, are arguably the greatest cars that the company ever produced. The NSX may get all the love as a modern classic, but the RSX and Integra were the truly affordable sporty cars for the masses. The RSX finished off in 2006 with the Type-S model, which was the best of the bunch. The Type S came with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with VTEC producing 201 hp. This is just four horsepower less than a brand-new Civic Si with a turbocharger. This engine revved to 8,000 rpm and sounded wonderful in the process. It came with a six-speed manual transmission to improve the fun and was extremely practical. We miss the RSX and hope that Acura finally replaces it.
The Acura TSX was never the most exciting model that the brand sold, but we were sad to see it go back in 2013. The car was available with either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 201 hp or a 3.5-liter V6 with 280 hp. Unfortunately, the more powerful V6 was not offered with the manual transmission, but the four-cylinder manual car was pretty good fun to drive. The wagon was our favorite version thanks to its handsome looks and amazing practicality. Unfortunately Acura never offered the wagon with a V6 or a manual transmission. The TSX wagon could have been the perfect Acura, but instead is was a sign of a company that was about to start making all of the wrong product decisions.
When Acura introduced the painfully boring TLX, it did so by killing off both the TSX and the TL. We really liked the TL, especially the sportiest Type S version. The TL Type S was powered by a 286-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine that could be mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The car was front-wheel-drive only, which caused massive torque steer, but at least the car was interesting to drive. Acura followed the Type S with the manual version of the 3.7-liter V6 car with SH-AWD. We've driven a manual TL with this drivetrain, and it was a ton of fun thanks to its 3.7-liter V6 with 305 hp. It was really a great competitor to the Audi S4 and BMW 335i at the time.
It may not look that interesting, but the CL is one of Acura's best creations. The Acura CL had two generations from 1996 to 2003, culminating in a final Type S version in 2003. The Type S produced 260 hp from a 3.2-liter V6 that could be mated to a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual. In 2002, Acura teamed up with a tuner called Comptech to build a supercharged version of the CL with 369 hp. This supercharged CL could hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, compared to the stock car's six seconds. The automatic transmission cars did have some problems handling the V6's power, but the manual cars were a fantastic reminder that Acura used to be cool.