- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2001

MODEL: Acura 3.2 CL
VEHICLE TYPE: Two-door coupe
MILEAGE: 19 city, 29 highway

For those who take pleasure in driving luxury performance coupes, Acura has introduced a couple of charmers. One is the 3.2CL; the other is the 3.2CL Type S.
I drove the CL model, which is a genuine performance car priced to compete with anything in its class: $27,980. For high performance, the Type S goes for $30,330. Obviously the Type S is more powerful because it produces 260 horsepower compared to the 225 horsepower of my tester.
Let me clarify what I mean by performance. Some performance cars are harsh riding and present difficulties getting in and out of the seats. The CL is a luxury coupe that only exhibits its macho manners upon the demand of a heavy foot on the gas pedal. When driven in an ordinary manner, this is a very pleasant, comfortable car that is easy to enter and exit.
The body style is what attracted to me to the CL and it leaves no doubt that it stems from the Acura family. The 2001 model is a couple of inches longer than the car it replaces and the length is emphasized with a long hood. The grille has the signature Acura pentagram and the triangular taillights touch off the short sporty rear deck.
The seats give the interior a high-quality appearance because of the stitched leather on all four individual bucket seats. The bolsters on both the backrest and seat cushion provide a snug feeling, and with its eight-way power seat controls, I was able to lock into the seat memory my preferred seat positions.
Other amenities of the CL's interior are heated front seats, keyless remote entry, sideview-mirror memory, and power moon roof, and, of course, dual cup holders both front and rear.
Adding to the luxurious interior's ambiance is an Acura/Bose six-speaker music system with a built-in six-CD changer. The name Bose tells all that one needs to know about the quality of the sound. Another plus is an automatic climate-control system with micron air filtration.
For men who dislike asking directions, the only option available is a navigation system priced at $2,000. Although my tester didn't have this equipment, I have used this system and found it to be amazingly accurate and simple to use. And I didn't have to ask how to operate it.
Acura engineers are boastful of the numerous safety devices on the CL. Their cars have the xenon high intensity discharge headlights that brighten up a dark road. The CL has anti-lock brakes and traction control plus driver and passenger air bags with dual-threshold deployment. They also feature side air bags for the driver and passenger. The Type S is equipped with stability assist, too.
The 3.2CL has Acura's patented VTEC system. It stands for Variable Timing and Lift Electronic Control. The Acura people explain it as a system that allows the engine to develop strong low-speed torque, without sacrificing high rpm power, by instantly switching from low to high valve timing.
My explanation of the VTEC system is much simpler: fantastic fun. This system, used in conjunction with the Sequential SportShift transmission system, is pleasure driving at its best. Even though I was driving the "slower" of the two cars, just a simple nudge of the shifter and I was able to fully use the power of the wide-range engine with dynamite pickup. One nudge to shift up a gear, another nudge to shift down. Or back to the convenience of an automatic transmission.
The CL seems to have two distinct personalities. Depending upon my mood, I could enjoy driving it as a performance car or as a sophisticated luxury car.

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