Acura Waves a Red Flag to a Bull
3.2 CL Type S a Road Rocket
by Jim Bray
Acura's 2001 3.2 CL Type S is such a missile you may want to purchase a radar
detector to go with it.
Its 260 horsepower and 232 pound feet of torque launch it almost as if it
had solid rocket boosters, which makes it an easy target for officers looking
to shoot a few motoring fish in a barrel. The bright, fire engine red color
of the 2002 model I drove for about a week didn't help: I might as well have
had a "ticket me!" sign.
Needless to say, driving the CL Type S is an "accelerating" experience.
The Type S is the enhanced version of the standard 3.2 CL, a two door coupe
that reminds me of my old 1983 Toyota Supra, except that it's a few generations
more advanced and doesn't whine and rattle the way my Supra now does whenever
I spur it on.
In short, it's a fine personal sports coupe that offers you a lot of fun
for your $31,000.
The heart of the car is a 3.2 liter single overhead cam VTEC V6 engine that
redlines at 6900 rpm. Acura says it'll take you from zero to sixty in a heartbeat
more than 6.5 seconds; I didn't time it (being too busy hiding the silly grin
on my face), but sixty mph comes, and passes, very quickly.
This lovely engine is fitted with Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), a Direct
Ignition System, and mated to a slick-shifting 5 speed "Sequential Sportshift" automatic
transmission. This tranny is basically an automatic you can shift manually
and while it's a lot more fun than just sticking it into "Drive," it
still isn't an honest to goodness manual.
Keeping you from becoming airborne at the first turn is independent double
wishbone front and independent multi-link double wishbone rear suspension with
gas-pressurized progressive valve shocks. Couple this to the Type S' 17 inch
cast aluminum alloy wheels and P215/50R17 Michelin tires and you have a car
that's as nimble as it is fast - and which offers good road feel.
Bringing CL's 3509 pounds to a halt are big four channel anti lock disc brakes
with four wheel speed sensors and electric/hydraulic control. Stops were straight
and smooth, and the ABS hardly ever felt it necessary to activate.
As if all this tech stuff isn't enough, Acura has also given the Type S a
Vehicle Stability Assist traction control system. It works well, though I had
no trouble beating it when irresponsibly peeling out on wet roads. The technology
caught up quickly enough, however, and I could almost hear a "tut tut" coming
from the car's speaker system.
That speaker system is part of the car's AM/FM/Cassette/CD stereo with in
dash 6 disc changer. This 6 speaker system is probably the car's weakest link.
Oh, it's fine, but it didn't sound as good (or play as loudly) as the one in
an Acura MDX I drove a while back. If that's the biggest problem with the CL,
however, that's pretty minor.
The rest of the interior is leather and (rather handsome, actually) plastic
wood. The very comfortable driver's seat features 8-way power adjustment (the
front passenger's seat has 4-way power adjustment), and the remote keyless
entry system activates the memory feature that positions the seats and outside
The automatic climate control system filters out pollen, dust etc.
It's easy to find a comfortable driving position in the CL; even the back
seat's decent for two adults - and the trunk's so big you could probably store
a few more passengers there. Anyone for a drive in movie?
A small, potentially dangerous downside to the CL is its large side-mounted
mirrors, which can block your view of cross traffic at intersections.
The CL was a real gas during a trek onto mountain roads, felt stable at all
speeds and handled the twisty bits and hills with aplomb. It went through its
share of gas, too, but that's to be expected if you spur it along as if it
were a thoroughbred.
If all this performance is a tad intimidating, the regular CL is a little bit
more restrained. It has the same engine, but "only" puts out 225
horsepower and 216 foot pounds of torque. It also saves you a couple of grand.
Ah, but that Type S rocks!