As impressive as the NSX's dyno results were, in some ways the TL's performance was even more significant. Both engines displace 3.2 liters, both run premium gasoline and both use variable displacement intake manifolds. But there the similarities end. The J32 in the TL is a SOHC engine, with VTEC on the intake valves only. It is substantially smoother than the NSX's C32 and more compact as well. It is quieter, both in intake and exhaust note, and is more environmentally friendly to boot. It even returns better gas mileage in a heavier car without having to use super tall gearing. And the TL engine absolutely dominates the NSX engine below 6000 rpm.
Yes, you read correctly. That's how far engine technology (in general) and Honda/Acura engineering (specifically) have come in the last 13 years. We couldn't even say that the NSX was experiencing higher drivetrain losses. Both cars use transverse drivelines with limited slip differentials and big wheels. The TL's tires weren't even that much smaller (235 vs. 255 on the NSX). It is only after 6000 rpm that the NSX's breathing begins to tell and it pulls away to produce 23 hp more than the TL's 222 whp. On the torque curve, the TL produces a significant 208 lbs-ft, a full 13 lbs-ft more than the NSX. Interestingly, the TL curve looks much like the NSX curve, only shifted to the left by 1000 rpm and elevated/flattened a bit. To say that we were impressed by the J32 would be an understatement.
Closer examination yielded even more pleasing information. Note the sudden drop in the curve after 6200 rpm. Do you wonder why an engine with such a smooth progressive curve has such an abrupt transition? We had heard early rumors that development versions of the TL's J32 were producing an easy 285 hp. We hoped that we'd get another underrated engine (see Accord V6 Coupe), but our same sources told us Acura was going to pull back some power to meet the ratings target. Judging by the absolute magnitude of our dyno results as compared with previous tests, that's exactly what they did. And what you see above 6200 rpm is the ECU pulling back power. Based upon our sources, and the shape of the curve before the cutback, we fully believe that with nothing more than ECU tuning this engine will produce at least 285 hp. Imagine what will happen with the typical intake, exhaust and header modification (although the latter will not likely be as productive as it was on early J32s thanks to the new integrated exhaust manifold).
So, with the J32 you get a quiet, smooth, clean, fuel efficient 270 hp from 3.2 liters with another 30 hp or so just waiting to be liberated. Ain't progress great? If this is what we get in the TL, what will the next NSX engine give us? I for one can't wait.
Check out the video clips on the next page...