The History of Acura’s ‘Type S’ Badge
If you’re keen on your Acura history, then you’re probably well aware of the “Type R” moniker. But do you know about the “Type S” moniker? If so, then you’re probably just as excited as we are for the forthcoming Acura TLX Type S and MDX Type S models that will be arriving at dealerships this year.
In light of these new models and the return of the Type S badge after a 13-year hiatus, Acura recently posted a video to tell the story behind the Type S badge and what it means to the lineup.
It all started with the Acura NSX Type S
Acura’s Type S badging first appeared in the Japanese market with the arrival of the 1997 Acura NSX Type S. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that specific NSX trim here in the states, but it was basically an upgraded version of the original NSX that wasn’t as much of a no-nonsense, street-worthy race car as the NSX Type R at the time.
Honda’s engineers used the NSX Type S as some inspiration in bringing the special trim to the U.S. market. The initial result was a Honda Accord Coupe concept dubbed the “AC-R.”
“The AC-R was basically a show car capable of 166 mph and 1.0g of grip on a skidpad, but its real value was getting everyone inside the company jazzed about creating this kind of model under the Acura brand,” said Erik Berkman, former president of Honda R&D Americas, in the video. “Ultimately, we decided to bake all of the goodness into the Acura CL and the result was the 3.2CL Type S, the first Type S in North America.”
The Acura CL Type S paved the way
After gauging interest with the AC-R, Acura released the Type S in 2001. The Acura CL Type S coupe featured a higher output 3.2-liter V6 engine that produced 260 hp and was mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift feature. The car also sported larger 17-inch wheels, quicker steering, and a sportier suspension, as was the typical recipe for the Type S designation.
The Acura TL Type S was eventually offered as a four-door variant for those seeking more performance out of a luxury sedan. And in 2003, the automaker also offered a CL Type S coupe variant outfitted with a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission. Since it was only offered for one model year, that particular iteration is one of the brand’s rarest models to find on the used market today.
The Acura RSX Type S was the “wild child”
In order to extend the Type S moniker past the larger coupes and sedans, Acura included an RSX Type S model from 2002-2006. This special RSX was powered by the brand’s high-revving 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that made 200 hp, or 100 hp per liter. To keep with the Type S performance template, the RSX Type S was only offered with a six-speed manual transmission, which complemented its sportier suspension and handling characteristics.
“RSX was definitely the wild child of the three,” said Jay Joseph, vice president of Marketing and Customer Experience for American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Acura TL Type S
The last model to get the Type S treatment was the third-generation TL sedan, produced from 2007-2008. Under the hood was a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine that could be mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Other upgrades included a set of Brembo brakes, a sportier suspension, and a quad-tip exhaust system.
The new Acura TLX and MDX Type S models
Carrying on with Acura’s tradition of creating performance-based Type S models, the forthcoming TLX and MDX Type S will each carry a turbocharged V6 engine. This engine setup will produce 355 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque and will be matched to an all-wheel-drive setup, as opposed to the front-drive Type S configurations of the past.
While the Type S models of the past and future might not suit everyone’s taste, the badge is a symbol of Acura’s commitment to evolving the sporty nature of its models. It’s no wonder they use the tagline “Precision Crafted Performance.”