In its third season in Acura’s lineup, few things have changed in the compact RSX sport coupe. Heated mirrors are now standard, and one new body color is available.
Dick Colliver, Acura executive vice president of sales, has promised “a true race-bred driving experience” for this front-wheel-drive hatchback coupe. Acura targets youthful enthusiasts, including the highly coveted “tuners.”
In base form, the four-cylinder engine generates 160 horsepower. The performance-focused Type-S edition whips up an additional 40 hp and features firmer springs and dampers, as well as a larger front stabilizer bar. The RSX was the first Acura equipped with an intelligent valve-control system, which is intended to enhance performance and efficiency.
The RSX has a curvaceous profile; it has a wide pentagonal grille that provides a family resemblance to other Acura models. Large multireflector headlights and a beveled chin spoiler accompany the grille. Displaying chiseled accent lines, the body features short front and rear overhangs. Compound-curved window glass complements thin A- and B-pillars to improve visibility. The RSX rides a 101.2-inch wheelbase and measures 172.2 inches long overall.
Michelin P205/55R16 tires are mounted on five-spoke alloy wheels. Variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering is installed. The suspension consists of Control-Link MacPherson struts up front and double wishbones in the rear. A power moonroof is standard.
Four people fit inside the RSX, which features two front bucket seats and a 50/50-split, folding rear seat. Base-model upholstery is a blend of regular and suede-look fabric, while the Type-S gets perforated leather; leather in the base coupe is offered as an option. Large gauges are grouped in a pod that’s angled toward the driver. A three-spoke 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 17.8 cubic feet.
A 2.0-liter, 16-valve i-VTEC four-cylinder engine powers the base RSX, which produces 160 hp and 141 pounds-feet of torque. The Type-S gets a stronger four-cylinder that generates 200 hp and 142 pounds-feet; it requires premium fuel.
A five-speed-manual transmission is standard in the base model. An optional five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic unit incorporates Grade Logic Control, which holds the proper gear on steep grades and minimizes unnecessary shifting. The Type-S coupe 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 RSX, which ranks as exceptional. In both the base and Type-S versions, the coupe behaves 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 Sequential SportShift automatic transmission, but the 160-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 particularly satisfying. The close-ratio gearbox in the Type-S is one of the best around.