Entering its fifth season in Acura's lineup, the compact RSX sport coupe has few changes for 2006. One new body-color choice is offered. Significant performance and styling enhancements were developed for 2005.
In base form, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder generates 155 horsepower, in accordance with new testing standards established by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The performance-focused Type-S edition is now rated at 201 hp. A lower final drive ratio with the six-speed-manual gearbox in the Type-S, introduced for 2005, was intended to deliver quicker acceleration.
Both front-wheel-drive hatchback models use track-tuned suspensions that were enhanced for 2005 with reduced ride height, retuned bushings and thicker stabilizer bars. To produce handling traits that complement its increased engine output, the Type-S features firmer springs and dampers and a larger front stabilizer.
Designed with a particularly curvaceous profile, the RSX coupe has a pentagonal grille that resembles other Acura models. Tri-beam headlights, body-colored side sills and lower, rectangular air ducts are used.
The body displays chiseled accent lines and features short front and rear overhangs. Compound-curved window glass complements thin A- and B-pillars to improve visibility.
P205/55R16 tires on the base model are mounted on five-spoke alloy wheels. The Type-S rides on P215/45R17 tires. A power moonroof is standard, and the Type-S coupe gets a deck-lid spoiler.
Four people fit inside the RSX, which features two front bucket seats and a 50/50-split, folding rear seat. Base-model upholstery is fabric, but the Type-S gets perforated leather. Large gauges are grouped in a pod that's angled toward the driver. The seats gained more-supportive bolstering for 2005. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is installed, and a seven-speaker Bose stereo system with an in-dash six-CD changer goes into the Type-S. Cargo volume totals 16 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in the base RSX produces 155 hp. The Type-S gets a stronger four-cylinder that generates 201 hp at 7,800 rpm and 140 pounds-feet of torque at 7,000 rpm; it requires premium fuel.
A five-speed-manual transmission is standard in the base model. The optional five-speed automatic has a manual-shift provision and incorporates Grade Logic Control, which holds the proper gear on steep grades and minimizes unnecessary shifting. The Type-S comes only with a close-ratio six-speed-manual gearbox.
Standard equipment includes all-disc antilock brakes, side-impact airbags, occupant-position and height sensors for the front passenger, front seat belt pretensioners and a LATCH system for child-safety seats.
Acura took an impressive leap forward with the defiantly sporty, exceptionally spirited RSX. Both versions behave in a manner comparable to its alluring style.
Crisper handling is a big bonus with the tautly suspended Type-S, which exacts little penalty in ride comfort. The base model rides even more pleasantly.
Base-model performance is eager with the automatic transmission, but the 155-hp engine emits a fair amount of blare when pushed to high rpm levels. Type-S acceleration scores as all-out energetic, and its richer exhaust note is especially satisfying. The easy-action close-ratio gearbox in the Type-S is one of the best around.