Acura's TL Type-S returned last year as a new vehicle, following a three year absence from the lineup and substantially spiced up the Acura stable offerings. There's still the basic TL model, which is pretty impressive in its own right, but which lacks the sportier, more performance oriented Type-S. There are really no options for the 2008 TL Type-S - it comes loaded to the gills, with only the destination and handling charge added to the base sticker tag.Performance improves upon the previous model TL Type-S, thanks to a 3.5-liter, SOHC VTEC V-6 with programmed multi-point fuel injection, and delivering 286 horses and 256 lb.-ft. of torque. The responsive motor hooks up to a five-speed automatic transmission featuring Sequential SportShift, Grade Logic Control and F1 paddle shifters. A close-ratio, six-speed manual gearbox is available and comes with limited slip differential.Audiophiles will relish the standard 225-watt DVD-A 5.1 ELS surround sound audio system by Panasonic, complete with an eight-speaker system, XM Satellite radio and hands-free phone connectivity utilizing Bluetooth technology. The audio system - which also includes with DTS, six-disc CD changer, AM/FM tuner and cassette player for an unprecedented level of audio fidelity - was developed by Grammy award-winning music producer Elliot Scheiner and Panasonic, utilizing six distinct discrete channels rather than the traditional two channels. The sound resolution delivered by DVD-A is 50 times greater than that of a CD. The system is comparable to enjoying a live, concert hall performance.
The optional Acura touch-screen Navigation system features voice recognition, as does the Bluetooth-based hands-free phone system.Safety features abound, as well, with front dual-stage, dual-threshold airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags, standard side curtain airbags, Pedestrian Impact Protection and Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control.In terms of styling, the new TL Type-S is bold and dramatic, sporting a wide, aggressive stance with pronounced fender blisters and reduced wheel arch to tire openings. The TL is pleasing to look at from the sculpted, sharply sloped hood lines to the integrated lip of the high, short rear deck and the dual slash-cut round, bright exhaust tips incorporated into each side of the rear fascia.My test TL Type-S was painted Kinetic Blue Pearl metallic, with the interior done in taupe and ebony tones complemented by carbon fiber trim elements and etched metallic accents. The 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 was mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with gated shifter featuring a manual gate and wheel-mounted paddles for selecting the desired gear. Completing the sporty styling were metal, rubber-studded pedals. The base price was set at $38,425, (only $300 more than last year's version), which totaled out at $39,095 after adding the destination and handling charge.
The first generation Acura TL bowed in 1998 with the Type-S offered as the "hot rod" model. The latest iteration TL Type-S is not only attractive, but it is exceptionally nimble, quick and comfortable. The ride quality is firm yet compliant. The five-speed SportShift automatic transmission is outstanding in all of its modes and far less touchy than the six-speed manual.Performance is responsive with a balanced feeling and nice exhaust note - not unlike the snarl of a big cat when prodded. The car by the way, responds well to prodding - but its full potential should only be released on a proper closed course for obvious reasons. The throttle-by-wire is undetectable, delivering rapid acceleration while maintaining fuel economy and lowering emissions. And the generous complement of standard features take you to the limits of luxury. Thanks to the '07 makeover, there was little for Acura to improve upon, but with the 2008 TL Type-S a good thing just got better.
2008 Acura TL Type-S
Base price: $38,425
Price as tested: $39,095
Engine/transmission: 3.5-liter, 258 horsepower V-6; five-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 107.9 inches
Length: 189.8 inches
Width: 72.2 inches
Fuel capacity: 17.1 gallons
Fuel consumption: 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway