Pikes Peak Acura TLX A-Spec: An Up-Close Look

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Video goes over the finer points of preparing a turbocharged sports sedan for the rigors of the iconic hill climb.

We’ve been pretty hyped this year about the 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec. With Honda’s venerable 3.5-liter J35 V6 under the hood, the sport sedan promises to pick up right where the new turbocharged Accord leaves off.

But Acura wasn’t content to let the car sell itself. Instead, they let James Robinson and several other Honda engineers build a crazy TLX A-Spec for Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. That showcased the potential of the J35 and the platform itself.

2018 Acura TLX A-Spec Pikes Peak

Suffice to say the car is not stock. Robinson added a Borg-Warner turbocharger to the J35. Andre from New Zealand’s High Performance Academy was on hand at the hill climb to talk the finer points of turbocharging and unlocking the TLX’s potential.

As it turns out, Robinson’s day job entails programming ECUs for the J35 engine. That gave him a leg up in turning the engine into a fire-breathing monster. As versions of that engine make more than 600 horsepower, like in Peter Cunningham’s PPIHC class-winning TLX GT, a big single turbo was not too much to ask.

The engine takes in about 20 pounds of boost, which James explains would be a lot at sea level. However, decreasing ambient pressure as the climb reaches Pikes Peak’s summit means the need for more boost than would be normal.

Of course, any video from HPA includes oodles of technical details but always broken down into manageable parts. For example, Robinson and Andre both walk through the importance of using a Mass Air Flow sensor to control fuel delivery.

Obviously, it worked for James at Pikes Peak. He was quickest of the Exhibition cars (though no trophy is given for that) and logged a damn impressive 11:03 time up the mountain. That was good for 32nd overall.

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