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Auto blogMon, 03 Nov 2014 19:57:00 EST
Motorweek's decades of history on television make it the perfect medium to look back into the automotive past and see how things are different now. It recently added old road test videos to its YouTube channel of the Acura NSX and Toyota Supra, as well as the Ferrari F40. For one of its newest flashback clips, Motorweek has exhumed an affordable five-car challenge of 1986's premiere hot hatches.
By today's standards, this is an eclectic field that features fondly remembered classics like the Volkswagen GTI 16-valve and Acura Integra. However, it also throws in some nearly forgotten contenders like the Dodge Colt Turbo and Ford Escort GT. The angular Toyota Corolla FX16 GT-S rounds out the group.
It's fascinating to watch Motorweek run the quintet through the slalom, down the drag strip and on various roads. What's most striking in this clip is the difference in the definition of a performance car between then and now. With its 16-valve, 1.8-liter four-cylinder, the GTI is the burliest of the contenders with 123 horsepower, but it still takes 8.8 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour. By today's standards, that would make it a plain-jane economy car, and not even a particularly quick one.
The Acura NSX might be one of the most important Japanese cars ever created. The Land of the Rising Sun had already established that it could make very competent performance vehicles when the NSX debuted in 1989, but Honda's two-seater was the first one that looked to the world like a true contender against Ferrari and Porsche, thanks to its cutting-edge technology. The Acura had an all-aluminum monocoque chassis, a beautifully low-slung body and a quick-revving V6 with an 8,000-rpm redline. This quintessential Japanese sports coupe celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and Autoweek recognizes it in a fantastic piece chronicling the model's US launch.
The story begins in February 1989 at the Chicago Motor Show where the car debuted. The day before the show opened, the concept still didn't have a name. The Japanese development team referred to it as New Sports, and the American Acura executives decided to add eXperimental to the end. The moniker NSX just stuck afterwards.
The article paints a fantastic portrait of the car and the company at the time. Honda had something to prove with the NSX. To succeed, the coupe had to be the best, and when the American press finally got a hold of it, they drowned it in accolades. Of course, Acura has a new American-built NSX on the way, and it has colossal legacy to live up to. This piece is definitely worth reading to understand why.
I'm confident in saying that the 2015 Acura TLX, revealed today at the New York Auto Show, will be a perfectly nice car to drive. It'll be nice to sit in, with plenty of luxurious amenities. It'll be... fine. And for Acura, "fine" is apparently good enough.
I say that because while the TLX is an all-new offering (it replaces both the TL and TSX), it hardly shakes up the Acura formula we've come to accept over the past few years. It looks like everything else in the automaker's lineup, complete with the neat LED headlamps and signature beaked grille. Power comes from either a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated inline-four with 206 horsepower, or a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 hp - engines we've tested in countless other Honda/Acura products. The front-wheel-drive version uses the Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) from the RLX, and high-end V6 models use the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) that we've enjoyed across the rest of the Acura range. Really, there's nothing to write home about here, except maybe, how that power is sent to the wheels.
Acura is finally - finally - moving beyond the world of the six-speed transmission, offering a new eight-speed, dual-clutch gearbox with the 2.4-liter engine, and a swanky new nine-speed automatic with the 3.5-liter V6. This is arguably the biggest news surrounding the TLX, though do note, fuel economy hasn't vastly been improved in the process. The TLX 2.4 musters up 24 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg highway, while the front-drive V6 is rated at 21/34 mpg. Optioning for the V6 SH-AWD reduces things to 21/31 mpg.