While Acura has recently been better known for their high-selling SUVs and crossovers, there was once a time where they were building some truly exciting, engaging and affordable sports coupes and sedans. Yes, they’re now producing an Acura NSX but that’s a halo car whose cost of entry kind of defeats that “affordable” part.

It appears that Acura has taken heed, gone back to the drawing board and delivered this: the 2018 TLX sedan.

The big change on the “sporty” front is the addition of the A-Spec package to the line-up, which provides a sporty alternative to the mid-size sedan. In addition to the obvious styling tweaks – new sills, gloss-black decklid spoiler, rear diffuser and new front fascia – the A-spec gets 245-section tires and sport-tuned bushings and spring settings. SH-AWD models, meanwhile, get a rear stabilizer bar and stiffer spring rates than previously. The A-Spec trim can be had with either four-cylinder or V6 power.

Inside, red gauge highlights, brushed aluminum-look trim and Alcantara inserts differentiate the A-Spec from other TLX models. Your interior colour choices are red leather or black leather. That’s it.

“We’re trying to get more fun back in the brand,” said Jon Ikeda, Vice President of Acura Sales. “Performance is the future of the brand and if you’re going to talk about performance, you need the dark wheels and red seats.” Red seats, of course, won’t be your only choice but you get his drift.

That “future of the brand” part is especially interesting; while A-Spec has existed before as a trim level for the ILX and others, you can expect the A-Spec branding to make it to other models in the future. Acura won’t say that they’re developing a performance sub-brand such as Cadillac V-Sport or Lexus F Sport, but Ikeda did say that “one by one, we’re going to get our models aligned.”

On the tech front, Acura is striving to ensure that you get the best bang for your buck. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, as does a faster native interface. It’s also the only vehicle in the class with active safety features such as collision-avoidance braking, low-speed follow, road-departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow capabilities. All of that comes even on the most basic four-cylinder trim.

No power figures were announced, leading us to believe that they’ll be the same or similar to what we saw on the last car: 206 hp and 182 lb-ft for the four-banger, and 290 hp and 267 lb-ft for the V6.

Watch for the 2018 TLX to arrive in dealers this summer.