2007 Acura TL Type-S
2007 Acura TL Type-S. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery: 2007 Acura TL Type-S

Toronto, Ontario – Since arriving on the scene in 2004, the redesigned and techno-laden Acura TL has kept a pretty low profile. Sure, there are plenty on the road, but you don’t see any flashy ad campaigns or hear great claims of Euro-sedan bashing by the automaker. The front-drive V6 TL just quietly goes about its business, filling the spot in the Acura line-up between the four-cylinder TSX sedan and the top-of-the-line RL.

All that could change with the 2007 TL Type-S.

Acura has injected some serious oats into the TL with the addition of the 3.5-litre V6 from the all-wheel-drive RL. This SOHC 24-valve engine makes 286 hp at 6200 r.p.m. and 255 lb.-ft. of torque at 5000 r.p.m., up 28 hp and 22 lb.-ft. from the standard 3.2-litre V6.

2007 Acura TL Type-S
2007 Acura TL Type-S; photo by Laurance Yap. Click image to enlarge

Honda knows its way around naturally aspirated engines, and this one is a corker. Throttle response is lightning quick, and once past the 4720 r.p.m. VTEC threshold (when the hotter cam profile kicks in), the V6 sails to its 6800 r.p.m. redline with abandon, making the most delicious noises while doing so. Thanks in part go to the fresh air intake and free-flow exhaust. It’s not just a top-end screamer – this V6 has plenty of mid-range twist too.

Standard in the Type-S is a slick shifting six-speed manual transmission. The clutch is firm with quick take-up, and for those who take pleasure in heel-and-toe downshifting, the pedals are well positioned.

The only real problem with this powertrain is that it’s connected to the front wheels. Drive the TL Type-S like you stole it, and some classic front-drive foibles come to the forefront. The steering gets leaden as it loads up with torque and it tugs at your hands.

2007 Acura TL Type-S
2007 Acura TL Type-S. Click image to enlarge

Tempering some of this behavior is a limited slip differential (only with the manual transmission), but even so, the V6 will overpower the front tires in both first and second gears. If you’re into front-drive hooliganism, the TL Type-S delivers in spades.

Once under way, the Type-S settles into a fine handling car. The variable-assist steering is natural and accurate and turn-in is crisp. The sedan feels nicely balanced through the turns and the limited slip differential helps pull the car cleanly through, without running wide like many powerful front drivers.

Suspension has been beefed up with firmer springs and shocks and revised front and rear anti-roll bars. While body control is well managed, you pay the price in ride comfort. The TL Type-S transmits every little road imperfection and on our crappy GTA roads the ride can be down-right jarring. Other performance sedans (the BMW 3-series come to mind) manage fine handling with a considerably more compliant ride.

Braking is ably handled by four-piston Brembo front calipers squeezing 310 mm vented discs up front, and 282 mm solid discs in the rear.

2007 Acura TL Type-S
2007 Acura TL Type-S. Click image to enlarge

I’ve always thought the TL was a sharp looker, and in Type-S guise it gets 17-inch Dark Euro Silver double-spoke alloys (18-inch are optional), a revised front fascia with black chrome grill, a more aggressive splitter and mesh in the lower openings. Out back, a subtle rear spoiler sits above a pair of sexy twin exhaust outlets.

Inside, the TL is also a winner. Acura and Audi can shake hands in the interior department. Fit and finish are exemplary. The perforated and heated leather sport seats fit just right, and dialing in the optimum driving position is easy with the manually adjustable steering column. Adding a touch of raciness are carbon-fibre accents on the dash, console and doors.
I especially appreciated the crisp illuminated gauges that are visible in all lighting conditions.

The contoured back seat is best suited for two occupants – not so great for three. A nicely finished and commodious 354-litre truck features a ski pass-through.

Perhaps this car’s greatest strength is its comprehensive list of standard features. With a base price of $46,300, Acura has thrown in everything just short of the kitchen sink.

2007 Acura TL Type-S
2007 Acura TL Type-S. Click image to enlarge

A large LCD touch-screen dominates the centre console from which you can control the satellite navigation and eight-speaker 5.1 surround DVD-Audio system. The car is Bluetooth enabled, has XM satellite radio and features voice control for the audio, HVAC and sat/nav.

Other niceties include HomeLink, speed-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, six airbags, power sun-roof, dual-zone climate control, two-position memory for seat, mirrors and climate control, and a rear-view camera.

Unique to the TL Type-S is Active Noise Cancellation. Microphones in the ceiling detect interior noise and corresponding canceling frequencies are then played through the speakers. It seems to work as advertised, as the cabin is very hushed on the highway.

These are the kind of features that can run European car’s prices into the stratosphere. The only available option on the TL Type-S is a $1200 five-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

2007 Acura TL Type-S
2007 Acura TL Type-S. Click image to enlarge

After a week of zipping around in this sporty Acura, I started to really “get” its personality. It presents an intriguing combination of luxury, tech and mechanical edginess – and it is very quick. Running the lovely 3.5-litre V6 up through the closely spaced gears is an aural, visceral and somewhat addictive treat.

The problem with the Type-S is that Acura has pretty much run into a wall, reaching the limits of a powerful front-drive car. It certainly has its charms, but “pusher” (rear-wheel-drive) rivals from Lexus, Infiniti and especially BMW have a balance and integration that no “puller” can ever match. And with power escalating in leaps and bounds in this segment, rear drive (or all wheel drive) is the only way to go.

If Acura wants to stay competitive in the entry-lux sports sedan game, it may be time to rethink at which end to put the driven wheels.

Pricing: 2007 Acura TL Type-S


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