Acura sent me this past fall to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to Ride and Drive the all new TLX, at it was AMAZING!!
We had a chance to look at some cool new features like the new Tire Fill Assist feature. We also got to use Siri Eyes Free which really is easy to use if you are an iPhone user. Even had a chance to try the all new driver assist and safety features such as the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). Both were good systems however the CMBS did nothing on 2 occasions (2/15 participants). These systems are not perfect but great to have just in case.
Finally after all that it was track time!! We got to test both the TLX 4cyl PAWS Tech and the TLX V6 SH-AWD Elite against its competitors. Up against the TLX 4cyl was the 2014 Lexus IS250 RWD and the 2014 BMW 320i. Against the TLX V6 SH-AWD Elite was the 2014 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro and the 2014 Infiniti Q50 AWD.
First I got to drive the BMW 320i which I thought drove really well. It was very sporty and felt like it was a solid heavy built vehicle, not very much flexibility in the frame, very flat cornering. It was the most underpowered of the 4cyl models but handled very well when put to its limit. One thing I noticed was that this was the only car equipped with summer tires while all the other vehicles had OEM all seasons. The BMW had a good transmission and solid engine but the lack of usable power on the track did make this vehicle seem a bit slow.
The Lexus IS250 ran into problems after it's first 3 laps around the track, which goes to say about Lexus. I have heard the IS250 has lots of engine issues compared to the IS350 and it was evident here. The IS250 does not seem track trial tested.
Finally I got behind the wheel of the TLX 4cyl PAWS Tech with the 8 speed DCT. This is my favourite TLX of the line up. After the first corner I could feel the PAWS system helping me stay on my desired line. Unlike the BMW which required a lil finesse, the TLX was much easier to drive on its limit. The TLX had the most usable power on the track thanks to the new 8 speed DCT transmission. This transmission is a dream to drive! Absolutely amazingly smooth, instant shifts. Also, thanks to the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS), switching it into SPORT+ made the TLX a complete animal! It would shift at red line and hold on to gears keeping the revs high for accessible power. It was so easy to catch up to the person in front. The TLX was easier to drive making you more confident to push the car around on its limit.
The TLX 4cyl did not have the solid heavy built feeling like the BMW did but it was a much better driving experience. The TLX was just much easier to drive on its limit, much faster, lighter and overall a lot more fun!
Next was the AWD vehicles. Here I drove the Audi A4 2.0T Quattro next. I really liked the way the Audi performed because it felt like a light vehicle and had really good low end pickup, and a really good AWD system. But it felt like a VW Jetta. Sure it performed better and had more premium options then a Jetta but the driving dynamics felt similar. Putting the Audi to its limit was very easy to do, and power was adequate however a little more would not hurt. The Quattro system is very good however it seemed that there was a delay from reading the road to adjusting where the power should go. It just seemed to be a bit delayed. Being so front nose heavy, the Audi lacked balance. The second on my list was a toss up between the Audi and the Infiniti.
The Infiniti Q50 was the most powerful in this segment, with 30+HP more then the TLX V6 SH-AWD and nearly 100HP more then the Audi A4. It was also the most sluggish around corners. The drive systems in the Infiniti kept interfering with letting the vehicle perform to the drivers inputs. Constantly fighting back with the driver, the Infiniti almost refused to do what you wanted it to. It had the most power but cornering capabilities were not so great. The body roll and sway would make the Infiniti slide all over the place. Being such a big heavy sedan, the Infiniti would throw itself into a corner, try to catch its balance and end up sliding away from the desired line. It was very hard to push this car to its limit without losing confidence because you did not know where you would end up. Overall the fit and finish of the Infiniti was very nice, however I thought the driving dynamics would be a lot better considering the car was partially designed by Infiniti F1 driver Sebastian Vettel.
In first place was obviously the Acura TLX SH-AWD. Super Handling All Wheel Drive. What more do I need to say? It's the second generation SH-AWD which is 25% lighter then the previous. This car was absolutely amazing on the track. SH-AWD really is a true all wheel drive system. You can feel the rear wheels push you forward and the front wheels pulling you. When cornering you can feel the rear outside wheel pushing you around the corner making it much easier to trace your desired line. The torque vectoring capabilities of the TLX are second to none and evident on the track. Pushing the TLX to its limit (and I really pushed it) was brisk and easy. You just feel confident behind the wheel of the TLX. Never felt like I was guessing where the power was going like I did with the Audi. Power was always available and never seemed to run out in the TLX. The only downside to the TLX SH-AWD was the steering was a little too light for my liking, however that is what made this car so easy to drive.
Overall it was an amazing track day! The TLX proved itself to be better then the competition not only in the way that it drove but the overall package. Confidence inspired driving, amazing transmissions & drive systems makes the TLX the best on the track in this segment.
If anybody else has had any track experience with the TLX please share!!
I am waiting to take mine again this summer coming up, see you on the track!