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Expert Reviews 1 of 8
By Jim Flammang
December 1, 1999
Vehicle Overview Acura redesigned its 3.2CL sport coupe as an early 2001 model that went on sale in the spring of 2000. Like its 1997-99 predecessor, the 3.2CL is a front-drive near-luxury coupe that seats four. A little larger and heavier than before, the latest CL rides a platform related to that of the Acura TL sedan and the Honda Accord.
Two different 3.2-liter V-6 engines are available: one for the base model and a more potent version for the performance-oriented Type S, both driving an automatic transmission. In its prior form, the CL had a choice of four-cylinder or V-6 power, the former available with manual shift.
Exterior Styling is similar to the previous CL coupe, with a low roofline and long tapered quarter windows, wraparound headlights, triangular taillights and a pentagonal grille similar to the one installed on the TL sedan. At 106.9 inches, the wheelbase is half an inch longer than before, and the current CL measures 192 inches long overall, a growth of 2 inches. The CL stands 55.5 inches tall and weighs about 460 pounds more than its predecessor.
The extra length translates to about 2 inches of additional legroom inside. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights are standard. Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires on the base CL and 17-inchers on the Type S, which also gets a tighter-handling sport suspension.
Interior The 3.2CL has front and rear bucket seats that accommodate four. All seats are upholstered in leather, and the front buckets are heated. The driver gets an eight-way power seat with memory-controlled lumbar adjustment, while the front passengers seat is a four-way unit.
Standard features include a power moonroof, automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, cruise control, keyless remote entry, heated power mirrors, power windows and locks, and an Acura/Bose six-speaker stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer. A satellite-based navigation system with touchscreen is the only factory option.
The Type S adds a metallic-faced instrument panel and perforated-leather seats, steering wheel and gearshift knob with a special emblem.
Under the Hood Base CL coupes use a 3.2-liter V-6 engine that produces 225 horsepower, while the performance-oriented CL Type S gets a 260-hp variant of the same engine. Both engines mate with a five-speed-automatic transmission that has a Sequential SportShift provision for manual gear changes.
Driving Impressions While both models are appealing, the CL adopts a somewhat different personality in the Type S trim. In the city, at least, the Type S is rather rough riding, its tauter suspension pounding over some bumps and holes a touch out of character for an Acura model.
Type S performance is eager and energetic, combined with capable handling skills. Quick, assertive engine response is accompanied by a drawling noise during hard acceleration. Full-throttle downshifts for passing can get awkward, but otherwise the automatic transmission performs promptly and easily. The top CL maneuvers adeptly, hangs tight through curves and steers with satisfying precision.
Seats are firm but supportive and comfortable. Though spacious up front, the coupe is more snug in the rear, lacking in headroom and legroom. Visibility is good, except over the drivers left shoulder.