Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
It takes guts to send two successful vehicles into the trash bin. That and attempting to replace them with a single entity. You really have to be confident with your final product and rely on it to bulk up the sales. In Acura's case, the sporty TSX and luxurious TL have both been sent to the history books to make room for Acura's new and efficient entry-level luxury sedan, the TLX.
Looking through the lengthy list of TLX trims and options on the Acura website can get confusing, so we'll break it down here for you. First off, there are two engines to choose from, a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder engine that produces 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque, and a more powerful 3.5-litre V6 engine that delivers 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft. Next up are the two available transmissions. The 4-cylinder engine receives an 8-speed dual clutch transmission, while the V6 receives a 9-speed automatic. We're half way there. You have the option of choosing between P-AWS, which is a special kind of front-wheel drive (more about that in-depth later in the review), and Acura's wonderful SH-AWD, which is as stated, all-wheel drive. Last but not least, you have three packages to choose from: Base, Tech, and Elite, each offering up their own technical gizmos and gadgetry.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, we can focus on how the TLX drives. Our TLX arrived with the V6 engine, which is the same one found in Acura's SUV, the MDX. My first impression was the lack of "oomph" in low-range power delivery. When we first picked up the car I thought they gave us the 4-cylinder TLX by accident, but we checked under the hood and found a symphony of six popping away. I was initially disappointed by the underwhelming power but the more we drove it, the more we liked it. Acceleration was creamy smooth and the powerplant felt great in the higher RPMs. The TLX retains Acura's signature of dynamism and finesse, but I feel like the V6 is a bit lacking next to competitor engines. It surely wouldn't hurt if Acura squeezed a bit more torque out of that incredible i-VTEC engine.
Our V6 is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission sourced from ZF. Under it's own schedule, the transmission takes its sweet time hunting for the right gear. And when it does find it, the transition isn't fluid, nor is it worth the wait. Word of advice, if you need instant throttle response, use the wheel-mounted paddles to row your own gears. Sport+ mode will attempt to rectify the lag by keeping the engine in the higher RPMs where the meat of the 290 horses are sitting, but paddles are still the best way to elicit that familiar rasp and whine from the DOHC engine, VTEC just kicked in yo!
The gearbox provides rev-matching downshifts that are crispier than fried seaweed, and you can easily rev the engine right up to its 6800 RPM redline before running dry. Believe it or not, during my weeklong experience with the TLX I only reached 9th gear a few times. The number of cogs seems a bit excessive because once you've finally reached that final gear, you're already cruising above the legal speed limit. That leaves me eager to test out and compare it to the 8-speed dual clutch transmission in the 4-cylinder TLX, which I've heard feels quicker and more refined.
Now you may be wondering, what in the world is the difference between P-AWS and SH-AWD. SH-AWD, or Super Handling All Wheel Drive, is Acura's renowned all-wheel drive system that can deliver torque not only between the front and rear wheels, but also between the left and right rear wheels. SH-AWD takes into consideration the steering angle, throttle input, brake pressure, lateral G-forces and a whole host of driving information. It sends all this data to a sensor that distributes the power to exactly where it is needed.
The system equipped on our tester however, is P-AWS (Precision All Wheel Steer), a state-of-the-art front-wheel drive system that allows the TLX to actively and independently adjust the angle of the rear wheels for better stability and maneuverability. In layman terms, it allows you to brake quicker, turn easier, and corner with more precision. No matter the weather - snow, rain, or shine - the TLX performed brilliantly. At times I could detect hints of understeer under hard cornering, but the rear wheels were able to dance accordingly to keep the vehicle plowing forward.
The new TLX doesn't stride far from the traditional Acura look, borrowing elements from both the TL and TSX. Compared to the TL, the TLX has shrunk in length by 97mm, is nearly 68kg lighter, dons a shorter front overhang and wears a lower roofline. Acura has also managed to keep both the wheelbase and interior space the same. In my opinion, those front and rear LED lamps shine like diamonds in the night sky. The pair are some of the best looking lights in the industry, and have encouraged me to forgive the uninspiring 18-inch wheels and the underbiting front grill that's in dire need of an orthodontist. Meanwhile, the inclined trunk lid looks rather appealing and gives the hind a bit of depth and sharpness. Add on Acura's Aerokit ($2059.70) and all my criticisms of the bland exterior will be swept away. This package equips the TLX with front, side, and rear underbody spoilers for a more aggressive stance. You can even add on a rear deck lid spoiler for another $571. Check out some pictures of these parts equipped here. It's pretty much what I had envisioned a TLX Type-S to be like.
The TLX's interior will feel very familiar to previous Acura owners, save the novel push-button gear selector parked in the center console. In a way, it simplifies the area, leaving room for you to throw your gloves on top without a phallic impediment. It takes some getting used to, as I constantly catch myself reaching for a nonexistent gear shifter to rest my hands on - habits. The cabin is nicely laid out with leather seats and fine wood that manages to make the interior look upscale. Yet, the TLX can't seem to escape its Honda DNA - the redundant dual screen design, an identical engine-start button, the vertical rotary knob, the plasticky buttons - you can run TLX, but you can't hide.
It's not exactly a bad thing though; the TLX is a wonderful place to be in. The cabin is pin-drop silent, a rear-view camera comes standard, and it's equipped with so much advanced technology that the TLX can effectively drive itself on the highway. Our TLX V6 Elite is loaded head to toe with options such as a Blind Spot Information system, Cross Traffic Monitoring system, Forward Collision Warnings, Lane Departure Warnings, Lane Keeping Assist Systems, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless access, power-folding and auto-dimming side mirrors, headlamp washers, LED fog lights, parking sensors, perimeter puddle lights, and a remote engine starter.
The 2015 Acura TLX has been strategically priced higher than the TSX and below the TL, hitting what Acura is calling "the sweet spot" in the luxury sedan market. However our V6 Elite P-AWS tester rings up at a mind boggling $45,290 before fees and taxes. Yes it's fully loaded with every option in the book, but that hefty sum is dangerously approaching German territory. Think about it, $45,290 can get you a lightly optioned four-wheel drive 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC, or even a rear-wheel drive 2015 BMW 328i. Both are compelling choices for similar money. The price point on our tester is a bit high, but if you don't need all the gimmicks and creature comforts, a base 4-cylinder TLX will start at a more sensible $34,990.
The TLX is a promising car. It is fuel-efficient, comfortable, and confident in the snow even without all-wheel drive. My only worry is that steep price tag. What's stopping a customer from spending just a little more for a German-badged car? Booming sales show the TLX's positive appeal, but I hope that's just the beginning. A TLX Type-S may just be what Acura needs to spruce up the brand to where it once was. More torque, a sportier suspension, an aero bodykit, larger wheels, and a reasonable price tag well below a 335i or C400, now that might win some bouts. Nevertheless, the TLX has fulfilled Acura's vital goal: to supersede the TSX and TL and reignite the brand. But to overtake the luxury sedan market, it's going to need just a bit more spark.
型号 Model: 2015 Acura TLX V6 Elite
顏色 Paint Type: Basque Red Pearl II
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $45,290
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2775
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4832 / 2091 / 1447
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1647
引擎 Engine: 3.5L, DI SOHC, i-VTEC V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 267 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD, P-AWS
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Solid disc
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 11.2 / 6.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P225/50R18