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The 2015 Acura TLX handles much better and is quicker than its predecessor, the TSX. (Honda)
The 2015 Acura TLX handles much better and is quicker than its predecessor, the TSX. (Honda)

ROAD TEST

2015 TLX sport sedan is Acura’s much-needed comeback car Add to ...

At Acura, the passion had gone missing as the company second-guessed itself about the market’s direction. Long story short, the brand that gave the world the Integra Type R and the NSX was, and is, in need of a big comeback.

The TLX is that comeback.

This all-new sport sedan replaces two cars in the Acura line-up, the TSX and the TL. The TLX is longer than the TSX and shorter than the TL, although it has the same wheelbase and useable interior space as the TL.

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The TSX was the European version of the Honda Accord and a credible compact sport sedan, but it had fallen off the pace from a technological perspective. The TL was once the second best-selling sport sedan in North America, behind the BMW 3 Series, but a repellent exterior design for the 2009 model year triggered a fall from grace. There are three different versions of the new sedan to choose from – the TLX, TLX V6 and TLX SH-AWD.

From a powertrain perspective, the TLX is most similar to the TSX, but it handles better, is quicker and more refined. The transmission is the star here – it’s a genuine pleasure with racy shifts triggered through the paddles – but the all-wheel steering system is not far behind as it gives this front-driver a surprising level of crispness through the corners.

Of the three, the TLX V6 is the least compelling – not because it’s a weak effort, but because the other two are profound improvements over the cars they replace.

While the front-wheel drive system is praiseworthy when fitted to the lighter four-cylinder model, the all-wheel drive system can carry significant speed through corners with ease and little effort on the part of the driver. In this respect, it straddles the line perfectly between sport sedan and luxury sedan.

In a perfect world, I would cherry-pick from the spec sheet to create the “ultimate TLX”: the rev-happy four-cylinder engine would be on this wish list, as would the engaging dual-clutch automatic and the tenacious all-wheel drive system. Unfortunately, this particular combination is not an option, meaning the prospective customer has a tougher decision to make.

But some aspects of the new TLX are common to all three versions. In many respects, the secret to the success of this car begins with the new body and chassis, an amalgam of lightweight, high-strength materials engineered to create a solid core.

If there is a weak spot, it resides inside the passenger cabin. Of the three versions, two featured brown leather seating that lacked enough lumbar or lateral support (key in a “sporty” car) or adjustability. The extra-wide seat wouldn’t hold the driver in place unless he/she was bigger or wider.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker.

Tech Specs

2015 Acura TLX

Type: Luxury sport sedan

Base price: TLX: $34,990, as tested $38,690; TLX V6: $41,690, as tested $45,290; TLX SH-AWD: $39,990, as tested $47,490.

Engines: TLX: 2.4-litre inline-4 cylinder, TLX V6 / SH-AWD: 3.5-litre V6

Transmission: TLX: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic / Front-wheel drive, TLX V6: 9-speed automatic / Front-wheel drive, TLX SH-AWD: 9-speed automatic / All-wheel drive

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): TLX: 8.3 (city/hwy combined), TLX V6: 9.2 (city/hwy combined), TLX V6: 9.6 (city/hwy combined)

Alternatives: Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS, Infiniti G50, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS

Ratings

Looks: The TLX is not particularly awe-inspiring, but it’s significantly more handsome than the ungainly TL.

Interior: One of the few weak spots; the level of luxury here lags behind the competition.

Performance: Both the TLX and TLX SH-AWD boast fantastic driving dynamics.

Technology: Advanced safety features galore, a dynamite audio system and plenty of connectivity.

Cargo: The TLX offers equal space to the TL, but has a much smaller footprint.

Verdict 9/10 The Acura TLX is the real deal.

You’ll like this car if…

  • You want a genuine sport sedan with world-class handling capabilities.
  • You’re less interested in the badge and more interested in the budget.
  • You’re an Acura fan who’s been waiting on the sidelines for years.

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