First Drive Review: 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD 6MT
By Shaun Bailey of Road & Track
We reviewed the new 2009 Acura TL in October. Although the new car was equipped with optional Super Handling-All Wheel Drive there was a feature noticeably missing from that car — a manual transmission. How could Acura finally embrace something other than front-wheel drive in a sports sedan and then do so without a sporting manual transmission? It turns out there was an internal debate as to the necessity of a manual. Only about 8 percent of the previous TLs sold were equipped with one, thus the extra cost to develop the car was deemed borderline profitable. Well, we're happy to say that Acura has looked past sales numbers and green-lighted the manual. The new TL with the 6-speed manual arrives in the fall of 2010.
For the money there is little changed aside from the addition of a clutch pedal and retuning of various components to work with the manual gearbox. The engineers had to stiffen the engine mounts, thicken up driveline components and change spring rates, but all-in-all the car isn't much different. The TL was already sporting enough. With the optional 19-in. wheels shod with gummy summer tires, the 305-bhp TL really rips around corners. It's the most powerful Acura ever. For the record, the NSX made less than 300 in the U.S. market.
At Honda's Ohio test track, I sampled a TL against its competitors. The TL was easily the fastest car around their test track; the closest competitors were the Audi S4 and BMW 335i. But almost all the cars lacked the sensitivity, corner-exit speed and sporting character of the Acura.
Gone are the days of burning up the front tires. The Acura TL is a real performance sedan. What used to be a nice, sporting sedan, is now a serious bear-your-teeth sports sedan.