Saturday, October 1, 2011

2010 Acura TL 6

The unceasing risk inherent to benchmarking your competition is that they have smart, creative folks all working just as hard to improve their products. The brass ring on the sport sedan ride is one of the most highly coveted in the world, and it's also the fastest-moving ride there is.

We've seen this pattern unfold before. But for right now, this prototype of the 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD equipped with a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission is one of the most remarkable fast sedans we've ever driven, faster than all the big names in the sport sedan game. And yet it will face newer versions of the sport sedan elite that might appear before this 2010 model reaches the street next year.

The competitor cars each featured a manual transmission, the sportiest configuration currently available, and aftermarket brake pads that would stand up to an afternoon on the racetrack. The cars included a 2008 Audi S4 Quattro manual; 2008 BMW 335i Sport; 2008 BMW 335xi Sport and a 2008 Infiniti G35s.

The 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD 6MT kicked serious butt. And we're not talking tenths of a second on a 1.6-mile racetrack, but instead 2 seconds (a light-year on a short racetrack like this) separated the TL from the next quickest sedan, the Audi S4 Quattro, on the challenging Dynamics Handling Course. This Alan Wilson-designed, 13-corner course is a laboratory instrument, and it dissected the strengths and weaknesses of these five cars with an array of fast/slow, compressed/unweighted, opening/closing corners.

The six-speed gearbox has been designed and built solely for this car. It's more than simply an evolution of the front-wheel-drive 2008 TL Type-S's six-speed, but instead a design that accommodates both the engine's impressive output as well as the additional complexity of all-wheel drive. Though its mainshaft and axle half-shafts have been beefed up to accommodate the V6's 273 pound-feet of torque, the manual transmission manages to be 110 pounds lighter than the five-speed automatic in the same car

The electric-assist power steering has been remapped to offer a more pronounced build-up in effort as the speed of the car increases, but even if some still consider the general feel to be light, we are huge fans of a low-friction feel as long as the overall effect is quick and precise like this. Because the electric motor is located on the steering rack itself rather than the steering column, there's good communication between the front tires and your hands

All things considered, Acura has finally put its highly complex and effective SH-AWD system to its best use in the 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD 6MT. This all-wheel-drive technology has always seemed a bit wasted in the MDX and RDX sport-utilities. It belongs in a sport sedan, and it has found a worthy home in the TL Copyright @ 2011 - Theme by NanLimo - Thanks to Google