Acura was introduced to me in 1986. Some readers would know how many years had passed between my birth and 1986 and laugh mockingly. Others would know that even in those few short years it had been impressed on me that I should learn about cars. So I knew what an Acura was.
Acura Integra's seemed a worthy real-life dream car to a young boy. A Porsche poster on the wall, a Lamborghini calendar.... but an Acura Integra would do just fine, thanks. Time moved on; junior high school; and newer and better versions of the Integra. GS-R. Lovely title. Type-R. That's evocative.
I've driven a few. The final generation switched names. RSX had so much less sway with me despite the fact that it really was a natural progression. The biggest loss was steering feel; the biggest gain was made in maturity.
Trolling through automotive websites this morning revealed something to me that I already knew. The Integra is gone. The RSX has gone up to that racetrack in the sky with Plymouth's Barracuda, the Honda Prelude, and all good incarnations of the Toyota Supra.
In memoriam, I post an article written about the final Acura RSX Type-S which originally appeared elsewhere a couple years ago. Integra - I salute you.
So with a 210 bhp 2.0L engine - up ten bhp from last year due to a super-light camshaft from the old Integra Type-R - paired exclusively to a 6-speed manual transmission driving the front wheels, you may wonder with what sporting cars this Acura competes. The Toyota Celica is soon to be out of production and the Hyundai Tiburon is a successful entry from Korea. But interestingly enough, right in the family fold we find the Honda Accord EX-V6 MT on sale for about $1,300 more than the Type-S; offering 30 extra horses; and basically standing toe to toe equipment wise. So why would you buy the Acura?
Consider the changes that differentiate the ‘05 Type-S from the ‘04: lowered and stiffened suspension for youthful consumers, more conservative front and rear fascias for the more “experienced” buyers, deeper ground effects and a small lip spoiler, a slightly altered interior that features new gauges and more heavily bolstered seats, and of course, the aforementioned extra 10 bhp. Lest we forget, Acura’s trademark of no available options produces this fully loaded 2-door.
The key therefore, when comparing with the Accord, is that stiffened suspension. Certainly the Accord handles, but it’s handling is suited more to the older, less hard-core buyer, whereas the Type-S is seeking out younger drivers. As well, the Accord is available without that “MT” suffix, meaning, an automatic is standard EX fare. For you to get a self-shifter in the RSX, you need to forego the Type-S model.
25 year-old Adam Durling is one young man who loves the RSX. And that he should, being a salesperson for Atlantic Acura. “We likely have one of the smallest remaining inventories in the city,” Adam tells me, “We sell what we get with no problem.”
Unfortunately for Atlantic Acura, they are based on the busy Bedford Highway, so when Adam and I exited the dealership we directed ourselves right to Joseph Howe Dr. and the Bi-Hi instead of left to some of my favoured proving grounds. The Acura still proved its power early on in my drive, especially if I increased revs heartily. Low-down power belies the model’s torque figure of only 143 lbs-ft. My only criticism of this high-tech engine is that to succeed in fully enjoying its full capacity and its noisemaking, it needs to be wound out thoroughly. Unlike the Accord which features far more torque. Handling is very impressive for a front-wheel drive car, marred only by the stiff ride of the Type-S and somewhat numb steering. It should not be ignored that there are three RSX models below the Type-S, all featuring a more comfortable ride, albeit with only 160 bhp and less equipment in some cases. These three models - base RSX, RSX Premium, and RSX Premium with leather - account for 80% of RSX sales at Atlantic Acura due to their substantially lower stickers.
Interior features are abundant on the Type-S, proving this is not simply a sporty car, but a sporty car with a dose of luxury. Automatic climate control, Bose 6-speaker stereo system with a subwoofer and a 6-CD changer, cruise control, leather seating, and a power sunroof are all standard equipment. Interior quality is, at the least, what you would expect from a Honda product; at the most, it will exceed your expectations with its solid door thunk and nicely weighted controls. Also, despite the rear seats paucity of space, this small hatchback includes a spacious cargo area which transitions to cavernous when the seats are folded down; a characteristic most true coupes would not offer. One advantage of the small capacity engine in the Type-S is the potential for 40 miles per gallon , aided by i-VTEC, a common feature on Honda/Acura engines these days.
It’s important before a vehicle purchase to consider what type of buyer you really are. If, for instance, you are a performance-oriented buyer, you will likely have to spend more than $33,000 to have a more capable all-around accelerator and handler than the Acura RSX Type-S.