The Acura TLX is ripe for a renewal, and this time Honda’s luxury division is pulling out all the stops with its core sedan model. After decades of utilising off-the-shelf Honda chassis, Acura has finally treated itself to a bespoke sports sedan platform to give the car a more premium look and a distinguished driving experience.

Yes, the new TLX is still front-wheel drive as standard and has a transversely-mounted engine, but the company says the body structure is the most rigid ever found on a regular Acura, bested only by the NSX sports car. Better yet, this new model heralds the return of front double wishbone suspension, a staple of past performance Acuras (and Hondas) like the Integra and both generations of the NSX.

The new platform has also enabled a massive remodelling of the car’s proportions. The TLX is 56 mm wider and 15 mm lower and has a 94 mm longer wheelbase than before, but the important dimension to note is the dash-to-axle length, which has grown by a staggering 198 mm. The resultant longer bonnet gives the car a sportier, more imposing appearance, on top of its wider stance.

In terms of design, the TLX closely resembles the Type S Concept, borrowing its strong front and rear haunches, steeply-raked shoulder line and upswept window line. Acura’s signature “diamond pentagon” grille continues to be found up front, flanked by slim LED headlights with “Chicane” daytime running lights. Accent lines at the corners of the bumper frame the large air intakes.

The sloping glasshouse is positioned further rearward and has an increased tumblehome to further emphasise the car’s broad stance; the roof also features twin grooves for a more dynamic look. The rear overhang is also shorter than before, and this pert rump is nicely finished with inverted L-shaped tail lights – which also carry the “Chicane” graphic – and a visible pair of rectangular tailpipes.

The sportier-looking A-Spec trim level continues to be offered, adding darkened head- and tail lights, gloss black accents front and rear and a prominent bootlid lip spoiler, along with unique 19-inch Shark Grey alloy wheels. The wider TLX range will be fitted with 18-inch wheels as standard, one inch larger than before.

The far-reaching makeover continues inside, with a wraparound dashboard design and a tall, wide centre console that clearly demarcates the driver and passenger sides of the cabin. Acura says the TLX’s interior can be finished in authentic materials, such as open-pore wood, aluminium and full-grain Milano leather.

Comfort at the front of the cabin is enhanced by the 16-way power-adjustable sports seats and the wider body, which is claimed to offer segment-leading hip and shoulder room – although we can’t imagine the longer bonnet doing rear legroom any favours. Acura is also touting increased forward visibility and, for the A-Spec, a thick flat-bottomed steering wheel with metal paddle shifters.

The TLX also comes with the RDX‘s True Touchpad Interface which, as the name suggests, uses a touchpad to control the freestanding 10.2-inch centre display. Aside from the new wrist rest, the latest version features more accurate swipe zones and handwriting recognition, along with other performance enhancements. A seven-inch multi-info display and AcuraLink connected features are also standard-fit, while a 10.5-inch head-up display and an ELS Premium 3D sound system with roof-mounted speakers are available as options.

Under the skin, the TLX’s structure – 56% of which is made from lightweight materials like aluminium and press-hardened steel, more than any other Acura sedan – is said to deliver a 50% increase in overall torsional stiffness, going up to 100% where the suspension meets the body.

This is due to the new central tunnel, triangulated strut tower bars, front and rear underfloor bracing, a one-piece rear bulkhead stiffener and cast aluminium strut tower mounts. Weight distribution has been improved thanks to extensive aluminium usage at the front and the repositioning of the battery to the rear.

The use of double wishbones at the front is said to offer more precise handling, increased grip and greater mechanical compliance for improved ride quality, while the rear continues to utilise a multilink setup. The car also features variable ratio steering, the NSX’s brake-by-wire electric servo and optional adaptive dampers, all controlled using the Integrated Dynamics System dial with Comfort, Normal and Sport drive modes (plus a new, customisable Individual setting, just like the Germans). The tyres also offer 20% more lateral grip.

Engine options have been overhauled with a pair of turbocharged powertrains, replacing the previous naturally-aspirated units. The base 2.0 litre four-cylinder makes 272 hp and 380 Nm of torque – increases of 66 hp and 133 Nm over the old 2.4 litre unit – and is paired to a new 10-speed automatic gearbox, offering a wider ratio range, more discrete gears, direct downshifts that can skip up to four gears and a lower first gear.

For the first time, all variants of the TLX can be specified with Acura’s torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), a rear-biased system that can send up to 70% of torque to the rear wheels under normal conditions, and then shuffle 100% of that torque side-to-side.

The new TLX also marks the revival of the high-performance Type S variant, this time powered by a 3.0 litre V6 and featuring standard SH-AWD, a specially-tuned transmission and larger brake discs clamped by four-piston Brembo front callipers. Differentiating it from its more pedestrian brethren are a more open grille, larger side air intakes, a rear diffuser, quad round exhausts and 20-inch split-spoke alloy wheels. An NSX-style Y-spoke lightweight option is available, shod with high-performance tyres.

Whichever model you pick, the TLX comes as standard with the full AcuraWatch suite of driver assistance technologies. New features include traffic sign recognition, a driver awareness monitor and Traffic Jam Assist, which works with the adaptive cruise control system to keep the car centred in its lane at low speeds.

The body structure also provides additional protection in a wider range of collision scenarios, while a new three-chamber front passenger airbag cradles the head like a baseball catcher’s mitt for more effective protection, mitigating potential injury in more steeply-angled frontal collisions.