By David Colman
For: Refined reflexes, Superb shift, Zingy motor
Against: Low torque = peaky performance
Since the demise of the ground-breaking NSX sports car and the discontinuation of the razor sharp Integra Type R, Acura has become an invisible brand to enthusiasts. But for 2012, the luxury division of Honda has introduced a sports-flavored Special Edition version of their most affordable TSX sedan that will have erstwhile marque supporters rallying for a closer look.
The TSX SE is Acura’s best shot at a sports sedan. Unlike any other product in the company’s extensive line, this one is available with a manual transmission 6-speed. The gearbox is a delight to use, with short throws, predictable clutch engagement, and a neatly crafted shift knob that makes you want to work the gearbox even more than you need.
Best of all, those 6 closely spaced ratios control a typical high revving Honda motor that loves to be run to peak rpm in each gear. The exhaust note of the iVTEC 4 cylinder, DOHC, 16 valve engine changes from a purr to a snarl as the variable valve timing kicks in at about 5,500 rpm. By the time you’re ready to upshift, the tachometer needle has zinged past 7,000rpm, and the 201hp motor is emitting a full banshee wail. You’ll never tire of the TSX’s soundtrack. In a model line full of over-refined Acuras, the TSX is the guttural exception, the only Acura that speaks to Honda’s proud roots in racing.