Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: September 11, 2017
The TLX was always a personal favourite of mine when I test drove it back in 2015. So much so that I’ve even pressured a few of my close friends to purchase one. It has cozy leather seats, a nicely laid out interior, a healthy engine that loved to rev, and inoffensive looks. The TLX was the perfect car for the young professional that wanted to experience luxury but to refrain from showing off to the neighbours.
I realize that’s quite a statement, especially in a jam packed segment brimming with high value competitors like the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and newly minted Alfa Romeo Giulia. But there’s something about the TLX that gives it a discreet appeal. Some might call it boring or Plain Jane, but when it comes to which car you’d want to spend 365 days with, it’s hard to go wrong with the Acura.
Fast forward to today, and Acura has given their TLX a significant refresh. That means new exterior styling, a revised infotainment interface and more responsive touchscreen, standard AcuraWatch and Apple CarPlay, and a new A-Spec trim that first debuted with the compact ILX Sedan.
We might as well address the big elephant in the room first: that gigantic front-end beak. It’s love it or hate it, but from the gathered opinions of our colleagues and friends, we believe it’s a face only a mother could love. The black paint on our tester does mold the beak into the front fascia a little more elegantly, though. On the bright side, the TLX’s rear-end is excitingly sporty, especially in A-Spec trim. Aside from the NSX, that’s probably the first time I’ve ever put the words “sporty” and “Acura” in the same sentence.
However, the 2018 TLX is more than just a quick makeover.
The A-Spec trim did wonders to inject some emotional appeal into Acura’s bread and butter sedan. The treatment begins with blacked out exterior accents on the front and rear grills, spoilers and splitters, smoked out head- and tail-lights, dual exhaust pipes the size of melons, a unique wheel design, Michelin Primacy 245/40R19 tires, interior accents, and badging on the steering wheel. The electric power steering has also been revised for a sportier feel, and the springs and rear stabilizer bar have been stiffened for extra body control. The A-Spec trim is available on both four-cylinder and V6 models of the TLX in Canada.
The TLX comes in a few different flavours and there are two engines available, both unchanged from last year. That’s right folks, that means no turbochargers here. Just unclogged nostrils and free-breathing engines. Base models get a 2.4-litre four-cylinder which delivers 206 hp and 182 lb-ft and is only available with an 8-speed automatic and is front-wheel drive only. You can also opt for a 3.5-litre V6 engine which produces 290 hp and 267 lb-ft through a 9-speed automatic and is all-wheel drive only.
We sampled the TLX V6 SH-AWD Tech. The engine is the same as I remember: an intensive powerband with most of the juice past 3,000 rpm. The exhaust sounds better with the A-Spec: a throaty and aggressive tone when revved up, but not shouty or overly ostentatious. It suits the TLX’s mojo rather well. A word of note: some of the exhaust noise is piped through the speakers.
The biggest change for me was the retuned 9-speed automatic transmission, which I complained about before in the outgoing TLX. It used to be laggy, constantly hunted for gears, and couldn’t seem to make up its mind on when and how to shift. The 9-speed is much better this time around - Acura has done a phenomenal job smoothening out the gear shifts and correcting the shift mapping. It doesn’t hunt for gears as much and ultimately results in a more responsive and swifter powertrain.
The changes to the suspension aren’t in-your-face noticeable on city streets but the stiffened dampers and improved steering do add a bit of sportiness to the drive. It doesn’t come in the way of daily driving either - potholes and bumps are still tolerable and don’t hamper much of the stellar ride quality.
The steering has better on-center feel and it is more precise and heavier than before. That helps the TLX feel quicker on its feet with sharp turn-ins and proper bite from the wider tires. Acura’s AWD system, dubbed SH-AWD, is a clever piece of tech and distributes torque not only between the front and rear wheels, but also between the two rear wheels - something you’ll never actually feel in the driver’s seat but the resulting effects are noticeable in how the TLX handles corners.
Don’t get me wrong, the TLX still feels like a bulky car and it’s certainly not a 3 Series corner carver, but the steering remains faithful to the relationship between steering rack and tire, and the majority of buyers will still have an exhilarating time blasting up twisty backroads.
The interior is mostly carried over from the outgoing TLX, except in this A-Spec model where the steering wheel gets some A-Spec badging and the infotainment screen and interface gets a rework. The screen now responds quicker to touch inputs, the menus are simpler and though it isn’t as cumbersome or as laggy as before, it still takes a bit of learning to get used to the prompt-intensive screens.
Acura’s suite of safety technology, dubbed AcuraWatch, is now standard across the board on all TLX models. This includes lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning, auto emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. What it does not include are blind spot monitoring and cross traffic monitoring - those you would have to fork up to the Tech or Elite trim.
If you’re already in a TLX, you’re not missing much, just the refinements that come over the years from customer and dealership feedback. For newcomers into the luxury compact sedan segment, the refreshed TLX is worth checking out. It may not be held to the same brand pedigree as its German counterparts but driving dynamics aside, I’d argue that it’s right up there with the best.
型号 Model: 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec Tech
顏色 Paint Type: Crystal Black Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $47,390
試車售價 Price as Tested: $47,390
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,775
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,843 / 2,091 (including mirror) / 1,447
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,711
引擎 Engine: 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6,200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 267 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.0 / 8.2 / 10.3
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P245/40 R19