We drive the Acura TLX-GT racecar

Rough On The Ears, High On The Adrenaline

  • Engine
    Twin-Turbo 3.5L V6
  • Power
    600 HP (est)
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Sequential
  • Drivetrain
    All-Wheel Drive
  • Engine Placement
  • Curb Weight
    3,086 LBS
  • Seating
Don't break the car. As you can tell from the video, that's the theme of the day at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, MI. After two short lapping sessions in the Acura TLX-GT fear gave way to familiarity, and a second theme emerged: this is awesome.

The anxiety was appropriate. There are only two TLX-GTs in the world, and both were at Gingerman that day. A mishap would potentially put either Ryan Eversly and Peter Cunningham out of contention for the subsequent Pirelli World Challenge race. I did not want to be that guy.

But back to the awesome part. The TLX-GT is barely TLX, but more Acura that you might expect. The wheelbase, roof, and doors are all stock dimensions, although all the bodywork is carbon fiber. Out go the front MacPherson struts, in goes a special double-wishbone suspension. All-wheel drive comes from an XTRAC six-speed sequential transmission originally developed for Dakar Rally vehicles. The side mirrors are stock.

Under the hood lies a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with a stock block, head, crank, and throttle body. "Under the hood" is a generous term, though, because half of the engine sits inside the cabin. The front end of the block is aft of the front axle - the rest of the hood is taken up with radiators and hoses. To service the turbochargers, the RealTime mechanics remove the top of the dashboard.

The front-mid engine location pushes the driver's seat back to the B-pillar, so you sit like Hightower from Police Academy. Only with less visibility. This does not calm the nerves. Nor does the din of 600 or so unmuffled horsepower. My first laps were understandably timid.

But the TLX-GT is actually easy to drive. You get used to the low, rearward seating position almost immediately. Once rolling you don't need the clutch for shifts - just bang the right and left paddles to go up and down. I even became accustomed to the acceleration. At more than 3,000 pounds curb weigh the TLX-GT is quick, but not as explosive as cars like the Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

Where the TLX-GT blows away road cars is in grip and braking, neither of which I fully exploited. The brake pedal is so hard you feel like you're standing on it just to get the pads to bite. Once engaged, they're like an endless well of deceleration, with ABS somewhere down at the bottom of the abyss.

Second lapping session over, car returned intact and adrenaline high in full effect. I had the uncontrollable urge to get back behind the wheel. I mean, I barely had time to get up to speed. I'm sure with a few more sessions my lap times would approach respectable. If Acura needs a replacement driver, consider this my application. Please?

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