The 2021 Acura TLX Type S has gone on sale in the US, pitched as the Honda luxury brand's high-performance rival for the Audi S4, BMW M340i xDrive and Genesis G70 3.3T – but for Australian onlookers, a local launch will remain just a dream for the foreseeable future.
Based on the second-generation of Acura's mid-size TLX sedan – itself a descendant of the TL and TSX sedans, which often shared underpinnings with the humble Honda Accord – the TLX Type S revives the fabled Type S moniker in a bid to rival the aforementioned fleet of luxury mid-size performance sedans.
Last seen on the V6-powered, manual transmission-equipped TL Type S of 2008, the nameplate has graced Australian Honda showrooms just once: as the flagship of the 2004-06 Integra coupe range, replacing the (under-equipped versus its Japanese equivalent) Type R halo.
Powering the modern TLX Type S is an all-new 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 developed by many of the individuals behind the NSX supercar's twin-turbo V6, producing 265kW and 480Nm – up 5kW and down 20Nm over its closest rival, the Audi S4 (but down a more significant 20kW/20Nm over the BMW M340i).
Drive is sent to all four wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission and Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system – which, despite the TLX platform's front-wheel-drive origins, can send up to 70 per cent of torque to the rear wheels, with 100 per cent of that able to be directed to either wheel for true torque vectoring.
Acura doesn't quote a 0-100km/h time, though independent testing has yielded a 0-60mph (97km/h) time of around 4.7 seconds.
Double-wishbone front and multi-link rear configurations suspend 20-inch alloy wheels, with an optional 'HP' package adding an NSX-inspired wheel design wrapped in 255/35 Pirelli P Zero performance tyres. Large four-piston Brembo brakes hide behind the wheels on the front axle.
On the styling front, the TLX Type S draws inspiration from the Type S concept of 2019, with sporty front air intakes, wide rear haunches, a prominent boot lid lip spoiler, and quad exhaust tips. The gold-like Tiger Eye Pearl colour pictured is a Type S exclusive.
Inside, standard features in the Type S include suede seat trim, 16-way power-adjustable sport seats with Type S embossing, a 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen with smartphone mirroring and satellite navigation, and a 17-speaker premium sound stem
The 2021 Acura TLX Type S is on sale now in the US, and will be followed up by a high-riding MDX Type S later in 2021.Prices in the US start from US$52,300 (AU$67,800) – US$4400 (AU$5700) less than an entry-level BMW M340i xDrive, translating to a circa-$100,000 price in Australia.
However, as with all Acura products, there are no plans to bring the hot TLX to Australia through Honda Australia's official operations, as it's a US-only model not built in right-hand drive.