Ominous gray clouds spit water down on the windshield as we wound our way through the Los Padres National Forest toward Pine Mountain Summit. Southern California was experiencing a heavy winter storm, one that might have spoiled an introduction of a lesser car. But, as the Acura staff would have us believe, it was their idea of the perfect conditions to test the redesigned 2001 Acura 3.2 CL and its performance-minded counterpart, the Type S.
Both coupes, but especially the hot Type S, are designed to compete against such luxury performance coupes as the Mercedes-Benz CLK and the BMW 328Ci. It’s a tall order, especially when you consider that Acura plans to lead this class by offering more features than others in its class for a price several thousand dollars less than its least expensive competitor. Then factor in (aside from the Integra) Acura’s less performance-minded bent than its German competition.
2001 Acura CL engine
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Is the new Acura competitive, especially when compared with the Teutonic powerhouses? For the answer to that question, look no further than the CL’s all-aluminum, 3.2-liter, 24-valve, V-6 engine, similar to that in Acura’s TL sedan. The CL version features 225 horsepower and silky, effortless power just as it does in the TL.
Then there’s the Type S powerplant, which has been modified to produce 260 horsepower. To create the Type S version, engineers started with the base engine in the new CL and added a dual-stage induction system, low-restriction dual-outlet exhaust, larger diameter throttle body; then increased the compression ratio and topped it off with special intake valves, camshafts and cylinder heads. Acura engineers say that these enhancements mean a broader torque curve with 232 lb-ft of torque between 3500 and 5500 rpm. On the bits of dry road we found during our test, we experienced some serious get-up-and-go both at low speeds, such as entering a freeway, and at higher speeds, such as when passing at highway speeds.