The gearheads at Acura have once again tapped their Performance Manufacturing Center – y’know, the place where they birth the NSX – to hand-assemble a few copies of the handsome TLX sedan. This time around, it’s the Type S variant which will pop out of the PMC in Ohio.
If you were hoping the returning Acura Integra would be the peppy, three-door liftback everyone coveted 20 years ago, we may have some bad news for you. Based on the latest teasers coming from the Honda Motor Company, the fifth-generation model will likely harken back to the five-door vehicles that rarely saw themselves equipped with aftermarket body kits or cold-air intakes and barely received any screen time in the Fast & Furious films.
Rather than focus on the cars of the 1990s ( arguably the high-water mark for the Integra), Honda has decided to base the new model on the first-generation and even included a photo of the 1986 Acura Integra RS 5-Door in the latest marketing materials to drive the point home.
Having recently revived the Type S moniker for its performance products, Acura is keen to get the label on the famed NSX before it’s discontinued. The mid-engine, hybrid-electric sports car will be leaving us next year. But not before the Honda Motor Company attempts to build the finest example ever to grace the pavement.
Acura has said the vehicle will be produced in limited quantities, with a scant 350 units being the outside envelope. However, 300 of those are supposed to be reserved for the United States, where take rates are higher and consumers appreciate salt-of-the-earth supercars that don’t need to have Italian roots or cars to be manufactured in places with long, European-sounding names. The NSX is assembled at Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio, where the town motto happens to be “Where the Grass is Greener.”
The 2021 Acura TLX Type S is currently being shined up in showrooms around the country in the hopes of catching the eye of people that still remember the brand formerly produced a handful of downright excellent performance vehicles. It’s specifically trying to recapture the magic of the TSX — which the rest of the world knew as the fun version of the Honda Accord — and appears to have been built under a similar philosophy.
Rather than committing itself to ludicrous levels of power or an overabundance of attitude, Acura has attempted to deliver a balanced, tasteful luxury vehicle that can still scramble like an egg. While the previous offspring of this mindset made do with roughly 200 horsepower, the TLX Type S produces a much more meaty 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque and recently dropped some additional marketing materials to drive that point home now that it’s on sale.
With the historic Pikes Peak International Hill Climb delayed — but miraculously uncancelled — this year, Acura has decided to showboat its updated TLX sedan. While the Type S everyone wants to see take a whack at the course will sit out the competition to serve as the event’s pace car, two gently modified sedans from the 2021 model year will be on hand to dazzle prospective customers.
They may even perk up a few disenfranchised Acura enthusiasts who’ve strayed from the brand.
The prototype TLX Type S comes with the much discussed 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 (355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque) while the more pedestrian racers come with modified 2.0-liter inline-four engine. Those units would have made 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque unmolested, but Acura has assured us they aren’t factory spec anymore — giving them an air of mystery, albeit slight.
Teased nearly to death in the run-up to its online debut, the 2021 Acura TLX revealed on Thursday lives up to the brand’s boastful pronouncements, at least on paper.
Athletic in stance and aggressive in design, the next-generation TLX arrives with a dedicated platform, double wishbone front suspension and turbocharged V6 in tow, ready to tempt premium import sedan buyers who can’t bring themselves go the safe-and-steady Lexus ES route.
Last year, Acura previewed the Type S Concept at Pebble Beach, making itself an exciting brand for the first time in years. The model heralds the return of the marque’s performance nomenclature and gives us a taste of the next-generation TLX sports sedan — which will be the first Acura product to wear the Type S badge in quite a while.
On Wednesday, the company announced the new model will debut on May 28th. Not surprisingly, it also confirmed the next TLX will share as much with the concept car as regulators allow.
Acura is trying to get its act together by placing a stronger emphasis on performance in the years ahead. We’ve seen the physical manifestation of that strategy in the Type S Concept. While not intended for production, it foreshadows the next-generation TLX — which is presumed to offer improved powertrain options (as well as returning all-wheel drive) and a sporting variant bearing formerly defunct Type-S badging.
While Acura hasn’t exactly been secretive about its plans regarding performance models, the company has avoided confirming anything for production. But we’re getting closer to that moment. An application filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the name “TLX Type S” on March 25th indicates Honda is readying its luxury division for something special.
Acura is bringing a “Type S Concept” to Monterey Car Week later this month, claiming the model will set the stage for a return of legitimate performance variants adorned with the badge. Considering the company’s A-Spec models are little more than appearance packages, dealing with vehicular thrills in an purely philosophical manner, this is an extremely welcome change.
Enthusiasts don’t want to experience performance by meditating on how a car’s upgraded bodywork expresses the phenomenon though a piece of purchased plastic, they want to fling the car though a corner and feel the blood sloshing around inside their head.
Today’s vehicle represents a couple of firsts for the Rare Rides series. It’s the first time a Rare Rides has featured an old car that’s still new, and it’s also the first time your author actually drove the Rare Ride in question.
An Aegean Blue luxury coupe awaits.
Keeping things fresh and interesting (or boring and CUV) is what drives models to the top of the sales charts. As designs age out of the public’s collective (un)consciousness, they need to be replaced. And unless you have some Impala Classic soldiering on and breaking all the replacement rules, the standard consumer will expect a new generation of their vehicle every five to seven years. The Laws of Advertising mandate a claim of superiority be made about each new generation upon introduction, like in the delightful vintage Plymouth ad you see above. Something to the tune of, “This new and redesigned Sportslife XLS is best in all things car!”
Sometimes, the OEMs get the new generation of a model just right, and really hit it out of the park compared to the prior version. Which of these generation gaps stands out most to you?
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Tassos Subaru really knows how to take fugly to ever higher levels, and sell every one of the (of course very few) it makes. As if the number of sales negates the fugliness.Don't hold your breath. I bet this will NOT be the vehicle James Bond arrives at the Casino in Monte Carlo with in his next flick. (if any)
- ToolGuy Government overreach. Park the Ford in your air-conditioned garage on a maintenance charger and this won't be a problem.Here's some (old) general background if you are interested.@ILO, there are 3 Fords, and Ford Pro™ is the one with the bright future 🙂
- ToolGuy No harm no foul (no one died), business is business, yada yada. Why must everyone pick on dealers?-this post dedicated to Ruggles
- Hydrocrust Parts
- ToolGuy The vehicle development process which gave the world the Neon was so amazing (according to the automotive press) that it prompted Rick Wagoner to hire Bob Lutz.Didn't work 🙂