New TLX Type S takes aim squarely at the Audi S4.
The launch of the 2021 Acura TLX is the most important reveal Acura has made since the third-generation RDX was shown off back in 2018. Despite sharing many of the same elements that we love about the RDX, Acura is adamant that the TLX is an entirely new model. It's even built on a completely different Acura sedan platform. The TLX will be available with a visually sporty A-Spec package but enthusiasts of the Acura brand will be more excited to hear that the Type S will make its long-awaited return, sporting an all-new turbocharged V6 engine under the hood.
Acura has been mum about the details of the TLX Type S but CarBuzz recently had a chance to speak with Jonathon Rivers, Senior Product Planner Acura Sedans. Rivers obviously couldn't spill the beans on the Type S's horsepower, but he did give us a great estimate of what the car was benchmarked against.
The base TLX will use a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, which seems pretty strong as a base powerplant in the segment. But the Type S will finally push Acura to the next level.
"The Audi S4 is a key performance benchmark for the Type S model," Rivers explained while also noting that the TLX will sit comfortably below RS, M, and AMG cars in terms of performance and price.
For reference, the current Audi S4 produces 349 hp from a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, also sending power to all-wheel-drive. If we had to lay down a marker on how much power the TLX Type S will produce, 350 seems like a great bet. This would easily make the TLX the most powerful Type S model Acura has ever built. In terms of pricing, Acura says the base TLX will start in the mid-$30,000 range but the Type S will likely be priced closer to the S4, which begins at $49,900.
With the full-size RLX now gone from the lineup, the TLX will have some large shoes to fill. But Acura says the absence of the RLX didn't play a major factor in deciding the TLX's size, which is longer, wider, and lower than before.
"We started by creating a platform and chassis from the ground up and used the Precision Concept - which evolved into the Type S Concept - to create the styling motive," Rivers said. "That wasn't necessarily done to replace the RLX or fill a gap. We wanted to build a product that would best fit our needs and desires and be a true sports sedan."
To put this into perspective, Rivers explained that TLX's 113-inch wheelbase and 194.6-inch overall length is "slightly larger than some of the other compact premium vehicles" like a BMW 3 Series and is actually closer to mid-sizer models like the 5 Series in terms of overall length.
"But we just wanted to create cool exotic proportions," he added. "there are some advantages to being able to think outside of the box. The Germans have that small, medium, large recipe going on, but we aren't bound to that. We wanted to make something that was unique."
Much like its predecessor, the TL, this new TLX looks to carve out its own market in the luxury sedan space without copying any other brands. "One thing that we want to convey is that this is the first Acura sedan to built off of our Precision Crafted Performance ethos," Rivers explained. "This is not a rehash of anything we've done before, it is a new approach. Someone who is a [Acura] loyalist will be happy with the product and people who we conquest from other brands will be surprised at the level of vehicle they are getting."
The RDX was a successful vehicle for Acura, which brought back previous customers to the brand and stole customers from other luxury brands at a high rate. Sedans will make up 40 percent of Acura's sales and the company is hopeful that the new TLX can do for its sedan volume what the RDX did for its crossover sales.