The Acura NSX is doing a lot of good for the brand. Its sporting spirit has been spreading throughout the range, to the extent of having a TLX A-Spec in the deck. Taking advantage of its mid-life upgrade, the midsize sedan wants to stop being just luxury and comfort, to move closer to the realm of speed.
Sharing base with the Accord, a logical question is whether the TLX A-Spec is truly a high-performance sedan or is it just a sport accessory play. We have driven it a week to discover all its secrets.
The Acura TLX A-Spec imposes its presence. Its proportions, in conjunction with the work of the design department, create an attractive-looking sedan, in which the diamond-type grille takes center stage due to its generous dimensions, although the LED lighting of Acura's Jewel Eye technology also draws a lot of attention.
Acuras used to be low-key vehicles. The TLX A-Spec in a way still is, although there are few who turn to see it. This version is correctly seen with sports accessories , such as 19-inch black wheels, skirts, spoiler, spoiler and a gloss black-finished diffuser with double tailpipes. Its silhouette is also athletic and correctly hints that it is not just any TLX.
The opposite happens with the interior, not because it is simple or boring, but because it has not received the same sports bathroom as the exterior. What is most striking are the sports seats lined in Alcantara and leather, designed to offer very good lateral support in favor of greater support in curves.
The rest of the elements do not change much compared to other TLX. We would have liked to see red stitching, a sportier steering wheel, or even details that simulate carbon fiber instead of wood, but Acura's goal with the TLX A-Spec is to spice up a dish with sporty flavor that actually uses fancy ingredients and technology.
Therefore, the cabin clearly shows us the intentions of this TLX: to make luxury move fast. It has two screens on the dash , one dedicated exclusively to the sound system and the other to display information regarding navigation, trip computer, infotainment, telephone or the multiple cameras installed throughout the vehicle, which they facilitate parking maneuvers and even offer a side view function to avoid scratching the wheels. In the instrument panel we would have liked to find a digital speedometer; there is a display, but none of its functions show speed.
When it comes to finishes, the Acura TLX shines with its selection of materials. The plastic that covers practically the entire surface of the board is padded and has a very nice appearance. Buttons, wood-type inserts, glossy black or brushed aluminum create an attractive atmosphere, further elevated by impeccable build quality.
If the TLX is here to compete against the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Audi A4, perhaps its best argument is good interior space. At 4.86 meters long, it not only perfectly accommodates two people of any height in the front seats, it also comfortably carries three passengers on the rear bench , with immense legroom and plenty of headroom. The central square, as usual - and especially considering that there is also rear traction - loses some space for feet and head due to the height of the transmission tunnel.
The other strong point of the Acura TLX A-Spec is the equipment. Beyond the dual-zone climate control, the anti-glare side mirror, the Elliot Scheiner sound with 10 speakers or the ventilated and heated seats, the true advantage of the TLX is the multiple driving aids.
The first thing to make clear is this: the A-Spec last name does not imply that the Acura TLX is a performance vehicle like an M for BMW or an AMG for Mercedes. It continues to build on the foundation of the Accord and does not stray from the Acura line - aimed at luxury - but it does get what it takes to go very fast.
The one responsible for our smiles is a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 290 hp and 267 lb-ft , with linear response and sufficient performance to carry the weight of the vehicle and still make us hit the backrest at full throttle. The most impressive thing is the sound, a V6 that delights the ears of lovers of sports driving. The set is associated with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
The segment is not easy for the Acura TLX A-Spec. The offer of the Japanese seems very competitive next to a Lincoln MKZ that only looks for luxury, but if we talk only about benefits for the 739,900 that the TLX costs, the BMW 330i complicates its existence with 252 hp (turbo) . Less equipped, it is true, but with better dynamic qualities. The Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class are also out there with a higher level of refinement, but without a comparable mechanical configuration for that price range.
In the end, for the reliability of Honda and all the technological load, the Acura TLX A-Spec is a very sensible option for those who want sporty flavor without leaving comfort cornered. It's a balanced sedan that can be fast on demand, technological when needed, and comfortable at all times.
Cockpit-like interior feel and control
Interior may be tight for larger drivers
Can be harsh on even slightly rough road surfaces
Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged 4-Cylinder
Power: 272 hp
Transmission: 10-Speed Automatic
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Comb.): 22/25/31 MPG
Curb Weight: 3,838 lbs
Base Price: $38,525
Price as Tested: $49,325