There are many things to love about the turbocharged Mooney Acclaim, more than 230 of those things, in fact, and the Type S follow-on has a few more to add to the mix, bringing the total, according to Mooney's accounting, to 242 ... knots, that is.
The Continental TSIO-550-equipped Acclaim has been around for a couple of years now, and it's been a great seller for Mooney. It was the successor to the Bravo, which was powered by a turbocharged 270 hp Lycoming TIO-540. I've had a chance to fly the Bravo, and it's a nice airplane, a near 220-knot cruiser at 25,000 feet that can do around 200 knots in the mid-teens, where most pilots wind up operating these airplanes.
The Acclaim, let me say right off the bat, is a lot faster than that, and the Acclaim Type S, which features some aerodynamic improvements to the original, is faster still.
Moreover, the Acclaim has been the beneficiary of a number of notable quality of life improvements, thanks to updates on the G1000 avionics suite that is standard on all Mooneys today. (The last models of the Bravo had the first iteration of G1000.) The latest Acclaim, I just learned today, is now available with Garmin's terrific Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT). Unfortunately, you'll have to read about that in a future story.
On the Acclaim Type S, Mooney asks the Continental engine to deliver just 280 hp, this from an engine type that cranks out 310 horses in at least one other current airplane. Given the Mooney's sleek lines, 280 horses is plenty. The airplane is very fast, as fast as some turboprop twins, in fact.
It's interesting to note that while the Acclaim competes with new designs in the form of the Cirrus SR22 G3 Turbo and the Cessna 400, the Mooney does almost everything in a very different way from those models. With the Acclaim you get a relatively compact, all-metal, retractable-gear airplane that appeals to people who are looking for truly personal transportation. Many writers and owners before me have compared the airplane to a sports car, and the comparison is certainly apt. You sit low in an Acclaim, as you do in a Lotus. Rather than "sitting in" the airplane, it's more like you're wearing it. Some passengers will love it. Others won't. Like just about everything else with the Mooney, it's a very subjective thing.
When Mooney introduced its Type S Acclaim last fall, it said that it indisputably had the fastest piston single in the world, with a top cruise speed of up to 242 knots, an improvement of nearly 10 knots over the original Acclaim. It had achieved this kind of speed increase by working into the design a number of aerodynamic enhancements, though it declined, like a Nascar team working under cover of night, to go into detail about it. For the record, the competition is the Cessna 400, which is just about as fast, though I haven't heard Cessna arguing that its airplane is faster than the Type S. Some 400s are probably a knot or two faster than some Acclaims.
These days Mooney is talking more freely about the aerodynamic mods, and though they aren't the stuff of great genius, they have the unusual effect, unlike many such mods, of actually doing what the company claims they will.
What are they? The most noteworthy (and if I had to put money on it, the most effective) is the addition of a new three-bladed Hartzell prop. There's a new, smaller but still very effective air inlet, flap gap seals, and cleaned-up gear doors and flap hinges. If you'd asked me before the fact if these changes would have made a 7-knot difference in speed, I'd have bet against it. But I'd have been wrong.
Nope, the result of the cleanup is an airplane that is noticeably faster than its predecessor by a good margin. I never saw the 242 knots that Mooney claims, but I'm sure some examples can do it. During the week I was flying the airplane, it was still pretty hot out, and even at 25,000 feet, it was considerably warmer than standard. On the day that I donned the mask and climbed the Acclaim up that high, I was able to wring 236 knots out of it at the best power setting, whereas the book said that I should have been able to get 240 knots true at the warmer than standard temperature.