Monday, May 6th, 2013 is a day that will live in infamy for this storied website. An egregious error was committed by our editorial staff, one so grave that it threatens to undo our credibility and achievements of the past decade that our founder, Robert Farago, and all subsequent contributors, worked so hard to achieve.
Our newest and youngest writer, Doug DeMuro, incorrectly asserted that the Infiniti G20, a slow-selling compact sedan that lived its life in obscurity, was somehow related to the Nissan Sentra. This is incorrect. Instead, the Infiniti G20 was the Nissan Primiera, a global premium sedan that was too nice to sell as a Nissan. Numerous readers were gleefully quick to correct young DeMuro’s mistake, weilding their superior knowledge with a sanctimonious fervor not seen since my last Generation Why column. Rest assured that DeMuro will have to do penance, in the form of a weekly article series extolling the virtues of General Motors.
To be frank, responsibility rests with myself and no one else. Not only am I an editor at this site, but I have a particular affinity for the smallest Infinti, one that I remember since my earliest days as a borderline-Aspergers car enthusiast. Despite the G20 rivaling the WNBA in terms of popularity with the American public, I have long harbored thoughts of buying a clapped out P10 and installing an SR20VE motor. Somehow, things like credit card bills got in the way of that plan, and from now on, I have settled for following the MotoIQ G20 race car project.
Now that we’ve established that the Euro-transplant G20 was not the same thing as a Sentra, DeMuro’s whole premise is shot. The Acura ILX, which shares its underpinings with the Civic, is no longer a valid comparison. Good thing Acura still sells the TSX which is, you guessed it, a fairly slow-selling, modestly-performing sedan brought over from Europe and Japan (where it served as the global Accord) to help fill out the lower end of Acura’s lineup.
By now, you should all be familiar with the TSX’s technical dossier, since it’s been on sale long enough without undergoing any changes. I know this because the TSX launch in 2008 was the first press event I ever attended, and an eye-opening look into a career that allowed me to wear sneakers and an untucked shirt to a five-star restaurant. My assignment was to review the TSX for a men’s lifestyle magazine, and while I enjoyed the car quite a bit, I had no idea what I was talking about.
Having had the chance to get back behind the wheel four years later, I’m glad to see that my initial positivity was justified. The TSX is hardly the most powerful car in its class, with a 2.4L 4-cylinder making just 201 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque, and at 3415 lbs, it isn’t the lightest either. I would say it’s not the roomiest or has the most spacious trunk either, but I really couldn’t tell you. I was too busy driving the damn thing.
There’s not much out there that is will compel me to get in and simply drive for the sake of it. When I say this, I don’t want to come across as jaded either. It’s simply very difficult to have fun with most of today’s high-performance sports cars without seriously breaking the law, and most mainstream cars are technically precise, but not very much fun to drive.
The TSX, on the other hand, is just underpowered enough to really make you have to work the car hard, while rewarding you with enough tactile feedback to make even the most banal A-B drives entertaining. The 2.4L mill makes the car feel like a proper Honda, and the 6-speed manual gearbox is just superb. Mazda’s 6-speed manual in their Skyactiv cars is widely touted as being the best transverse manual gearbox in the ‘biz. I think this one is better, but people have largely forgotten the TSX exists, allowing Mazda to claim the crown.
Inside, the TSX shows its age with a lack of any touchscreen, a finicky Bluetooth system and a smattering of buttons laid out with little rhyme or reason. I didn’t mind. It’s nice to feel a physical control rather than engaging in an awkward heavy petting session with a touch screen system. All the materials appear to be of a very high quality and the fit and finish is what one would expect from an Acura. It’s a good thing that the TSX’s cabin is such a nice place to spend time, because it ain’t pretty. The Acura “beak” front end makes yet another appearance here, more subdued than on the TL but still all too prominent.
The TSX remains quite popular with buyers around the same age as me, but at $31,150 for the 6-speed manual version, it would have to be my parents buying it for me. As much as I like the idea of an imported-from-Japan-European-sedan with a real manual, no infotainment system and a badge that says “premium-but-not-a-douchebag”, I can think of plenty of choices, both used and new, that I’d blow my meager auto journo salary on before I bought a TSX. But for all of you Internet Tough Guy Product planners, this is the car – nay, the Honda product – you’ve been waiting for.