Acura tells us what influenced the TLX's development.
The all-new 2021 Acura TLX is nothing like the competent but rather forgettable model it replaces. It harks back to the brand's sporting roots in a way that Acura sedans haven't for some time. For starters, it's a stunner! Revealed online in a 15-minute video just yesterday, the production TLX hasn't strayed too far from the Type S Concept revealed last year, and we couldn't be happier about that.
And the Type S isn't just a concept - the high-performance badge marks its return to a new Acura product for the first time in a while. Whereas the older TL Type-S was front-wheel drive, the new one will offer Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system, although the new Type-S sadly won't get a manual gearbox. To understand the thinking behind some of these changes, we caught up with Jonathon Rivers, the Senior Product Planner of Acura Sedans.
The new TLX Type S makes use of a much-improved 10-speed automatic transmission which is paired with a new 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. Although outputs for this engine have yet to be announced, expect a significant increase over the current V6's 290-horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque.
Commenting on the absence of a manual, Rivers said that Acura is a "performance brand" and the beefed-up 10-speed 'box "meets the character of the car." Instead of bringing back a manual simply because the older TL Type S had one, the team elected instead to go with the best possible transmission for the job. Rivers did, however, acknowledge that the older manuals "were some of the best in the business."
The move from the older Type S' FWD to the new version's SH-AWD follows a similar train of thought - the best drivetrain for the desired level of performance was chosen. Rivers explained that it was a question of what the team wanted to achieve, and how they could go about achieving that.
"It's the return of the Type S in a new form, but we believe that it's a higher level of performance," he said. "We believe it's the best torque-vectoring system in the business. It's very rear-biased - up to 70 percent of the power can go to the rear, then be distributed 100 percent left to right."
Just as BMW loyalists lamented the brand's move to FWD and AWD platforms, some Acura fans will wish that the new Type S retained a manual option. But it's clear that the brand started with a clean slate for the all-new TLX, unaffected in its planning by past models or even segment norms - for instance, the TLX once again fits in somewhere between a BMW 3 and 5 Series, without aligning exactly with either of these models.
"We wanted something that was unique," said Rivers. And the new Acura TLX sedan is certainly that.