To call the reception of Acura’s new TLX ‘positive’ is a bit of an understatement. Even as the Japanese automaker cancels underperforming models, the new sports sedan is getting a lot of Internet praise. Especially the higher-performance Acura TLX Type S. The ‘Type S’ moniker was previewed by the Civic Type R’s chief engineer as Acura’s equivalent of ‘Type R’. However, although the initial news looks promising, some details are still unknown. Such as one of the most important: how much horsepower will the Acura TLX Type S make?
The 2021 Acura TLX Type S’ powertrain
As of this writing, we know the 2021 Acura TLX Type S will the first ‘Type S’ with all-wheel drive. It’s also getting a brand-new suspension, The Drive reports, and Brembo brakes like on the NSX supercar. Engine information, though, is still rather sparse.
At the moment, the only hard data Acura has released is that the TLX Type S has a 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged V6. This V6 is exclusive to Acura—no other Honda product will get it. The previous TLX Type S, in comparison, had a 3.5-liter V6 also found in the Ridgeline truck. This V6 will come with a modified version of the base 2021 TLX’s 10-speed automatic, Automobile reports.
But the engine’s output, as well as the Type S’ acceleration and top speed, are still unknown. It won’t go on sale until spring 2021, so Acura will likely reveal more details closer to that date. However, that doesn’t mean we, and other publications, can’t make some educated guesses.
The Drive estimates the Acura TLX Type S’ V6 will have a power output “somewhere in the mid-300s.” Car and Driver estimates closer to 350 hp. The previous-gen car’s 3.5-liter V6, in contrast, makes 290 hp and 267 lb-ft, Motor1 reports. Incidentally, Motor1 pegs the new engine’s output at 380 hp and 350 lb-ft.
Estimating the Acura TLX Type S’ output
The only additional detail Acura revealed was the engine would have “a more than 50% increase in low-end torque.” Which is vague enough to give Acura some wiggle room. It’s also, as Automobile explains, a property of dual-scroll turbos. They spread torque gains across a broader RPM range, Car Throttle explains, than single-scrolls. In addition, they offer more power and tuning opportunities than single-scroll or twin-turbo setups.
But, that information, plus the specs of the 2021 TLX’s other new engine, can give us some rough output estimates. Let’s start conservatively.
According to Automotive-Catalog.com, the outgoing Type S’ engine made about 130 lb-ft off idle. Using Acura’s “50%” quote, that means an added 65 lb-ft. Which is actually less than the 98 lb-ft boost the TLX’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder has over the old 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Nevertheless, correlating with the 3.5-liter V6, this puts the new 3.0-liter V6 at roughly 360 hp and 330 lb-ft.
There are some caveats. Firstly, I’m assuming the turbo won’t change the shape of the V6’s horsepower and torque curves. This, according to the Alexandria Engineering Journal, is a fair assumption. Secondly, I assumed the turbo would add power and torque evenly.
However, I could instead take that 190 lb-ft number, and scale it based on how the 3.5-liter V6’s torque scales. From idle to the torque peak, it basically doubles. If that’s the case with the 3.0-liter, that could mean the Acura TLX Type S would deliver roughly 425 hp and 390 lb-ft.
But I think the first estimate is more accurate. 425 hp is too close to what the NSX’s 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 puts out. On its own, Driving.ca reports, it makes 500 hp. The Type S might be sporty, but it wouldn’t be quite that powerful.
How the competition compares
The other reason why the 360-hp estimate seems more realistic is that the Acura TLX Type S won’t be a BMW M3 competitor. Instead, it’ll be positioned against cars like the Audi S4 and BMW M340i. The Type S won’t be full M, just M Performance. Interestingly, both the BMW M340i and Audi S4 use twin-scroll turbos.
The M340i has a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder, rated at 382 hp and 369 lb-ft. But, it’s RWD, not AWD. Also, it’s possible the Type S will undercut it in price, Roadshow reports. The M340i starts at $54,000.
Meanwhile, the S4 has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, which puts out 349 hp and 369 lb-ft. And, like the Type S, it comes standard with AWD. In base form, the S4 will likely be cheaper; it starts at $49,900. However, Car and Driver reports some features, especially advanced driver-assistance features, cost extra. So, by the time it’s equipped like the Acura, the S4 might cost about the same.
Whether or not our estimates are accurate, there is one thing we know for sure. This is the most we’ve obsessed over an Acura engine since the Integra Type R.
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