The charm of a luxury sport coupe is its ability to dance a back-road ballet while coddling its occupants in comfort. Driving fun is its chief reason for being.Acura's completely redesigned 3.2 CL made its bow earlier this year, and there are two models. Both have 3.2-liter, all-aluminum V6 engines that bristle with technology. Both are SOHC units with four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing and lift control (VTEC). The base engine cranks out 225 horsepower, which is quite respectable and adequate for most. But, for those who want to raise the performance bar, the 260-horsepower Type S is hot enough to get your temperature up quicker than the flu. The additional horsepower of the Type S is the result of a dual-stage intake manifold, special valves and a low-restriction exhaust. Acura says the Type S is the most powerful six-cylinder coupe in its class, and its extra power certainly gives it a performance edge. The five-speed automatic transmission is equipped with Sequential SportShift that allows the driver to manually select gear shifts when the occasion calls for it. Nail the throttle and the Type S really scoots, yet it feels as docile as a Honda Civic when you want to drive sedately. One downside to putting 260 horsepower through the front wheels, however, is that front-wheel drive is generally not as well-balanced as rear-wheel drive, although the Type S does an admirable job of handling corners without feeling as if it is tip-toeing. In order to get crisp handling, the suspension is tightened up to the point that the ride feels a tad jiggly, almost as if the tires were overinflated. That trace of harshness can likely be attributed to the fact that 17-inch tires were fitted for optimum grip and sharp steering response. Compared to the chassis of the previous CL, the new chassis is stiffer and less susceptible to flexing. It shares much of its basics with the 3.2 TL sedan, which is itself quite exemplary. The additional rigidity can be felt through the steering wheel as well as the seat of the pants because the whole package is more solid, secure and responsive to changes of direction. Acura has equipped the CL with a vehicle stability assist program that integrates the traction control and anti-lock braking systems to help keep the vehicle from skidding out of control in emergency evasive actions. It works by applying one front brake and reducing the amount of throttle to keep the vehicle on its intended course. While performance is the dominant role of the Type S, Acura has positioned the CL to fit into the luxury segment of the market as well. Automatic climate control is standard, as is a power sunroof, Bose stereo system with six-disc in-dash CD changer and high-intensity discharge headlights. Nicely subtle Ebony wood trim accents the doors and center console, for example. Perforated leather is used for seating surfaces, steering wheel and gearshift. The seats ar e deep and sharply contoured, which makes them comfortable for vigorous driving as well as hours behind the wheel. Front and side airbags are standard equipment. The back seat is pretty tight, as one would expect in a coupe this size. Metallic-faced instruments are clearly designed and easy to read. The center section of the instrument panel houses Acura's navigation system, a $2,000 option. This system, which uses a DVD for its mapping database, is among the best. But, as I have said before, my experience has led me to think of navigation systems more as toys than tools for the time being. The strong performance bias of the Type S shows up in little details, such as the perforated leather handle atop the gear lever and the brushed aluminum gate for the gear shift. By offering two CL models, Acura gives buyers the choice of wild or mild to suit their performance preferences. Both have the requisite luxury equipment and styling that is refined and energetic. Price The base price of the CL Type S with navigation system is $32,330. With freight, the sticker price is $32,810. Warranty Four years or 50,000 miles. Point: The CL Type S sports strong acceleration and quick-reflex handling. Luxury appointments round out the package that is all new for 2001. Counterpoint: The ride is tight to the point of being jiggly and the back seat is fairly snug. I would omit the navigation system and save money. For those who don't need all 260 horsepower, the base model should be more than adequate. SPECIFICATIONS: Engine: 3.2-liter V6 Transmission: automatic Front-wheel drive Wheelbase: 106.9 inches Curb weight: 3,525 lbs. Base price: $32,330 As driven: $32,810 Mpg rating: 19 city, 29 hwy.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Jim Flammang||Cars.com National||December 1, 1999|
|Mark Glover||The Sacramento Bee||March 2, 2001|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||January 12, 2001|
|Alan Vonderhaar||Cincinnati.com||November 4, 2000|
|Larry Printz||The Morning Call and Mcall.com||October 15, 2000|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||September 3, 2000|
|Anita And Paul Lienert||The Detroit News||June 28, 2000|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||June 11, 2000|
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