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
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.