To quote a well-used parable: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Especially when you make a car that has been a success from the day it first hit the streets. So when it came time to redesign the popular RSX, in 2005, Acura decided to focus on refinements, rather than wholesale alterations, with subtle but significant changes throughout. After all, it had been on the receiving end of numerous awards and kudos since its introduction, in 2001.
The ’05 RSX came in four versions: Base, Premium, Premium Leather, and the high-performance Type-S. All models were powered by a two litre four cylinder engine with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and Acura’s tried-and-true i-VTEC variable valve control system. In regular trim, this powerplant delivered 160 horsepower at 6500 rpm while the Type-S version added another 50 horsepower on top of that, upping the engine’s output to 210 hp at 7800 rpm. This was up ten horses from ‘04, and the power boost was accomplished through the use of a high performance camshaft, a larger intake manifold, bigger diameter exhaust system, and a free-flowing catalytic converter. In 2005, the RSX Type-S was one of the few vehicles on the market that met – and exceeded – the elusive 100 horsepower per litre benchmark.
Transmission choices were a five-speed manual and five-speed automatic with Acura’s Sequential SportShift feature. The Type-S also had a six-speed manual, which was on the receiving end of a lower final drive ratio and redesigned fifth and sixth gear synchronizers. It improved the gearbox’ shift feel, which, quite frankly, was a weak point in the previous version.
Any sports coupe worth its salt has decent suspension, and the RSX was no exception. Improvements included a lower ride height, redesigned bushings on the rear double wishbones, larger stabilizer bars front and back, firmer settings for both shock absorbers and front springs, and redesigned front damper bushings. The result was smoother ride quality, enhanced handling, and more linear steering. A vehicle already noted for its handling offered even better cornering abilities, in other words.
Suspension changes were complemented by four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and a newer, larger diameter master cylinder and redesigned brake pedal mechanism. The new base models and Type-S also received restyled alloy wheels and high-performance Michelin tires.
Inside the new RSX, the front bucket seats got firmed up with a thicker lower cushion, redesigned side bolsters and trim accents around the headrests. For long drives or spirited cornering, the seating situation in the RSX was more "driver oriented" than before. Base models also featured fabric seats with faux suede trim, while the Type-S had perforated leather upholstery….also optional on the base model. All models came with power windows, power door locks, climate control system, cruise control, tilt steering, and a power moon roof….among other things. Safety equipment included dual-stage front airbags, side airbags, and seat belt pretensioners.
All of this was housed in a new body that featured a redesigned front fascia with lower, rectangular air ducts, aggressive-looking tri-beam headlights and a new Acura-family grille. As well, the side sills on the RSX were increased in size and extended further towards the front of the car. The back end also received some styling flourishes, with new taillight assemblies, a redesigned bumper, larger diameter exhaust tips and, on the Type-S, a deck lid spoiler. Overall vehicle aerodynamics were improved as a result, and the car had a much more aggressive appearance than before.
One thing that did not change was the RSX’ driveability and fun quotient. It was - and is - a pleasure to drive….especially the Type-S. Like the looks of that tight corner coming up? Go ahead….hit it. Want to take those S-bends faster than usual? No problem....fill your boots. The RSX kept its excellent sense of balance, with predictable and linear steering, outstanding brakes, and one of the most responsive four cylinder engines on the market. For serious motorheads, the Type-S really came into its own around the 6500 rpm mark, when most other similar models started to run out of steam, and its performance was almost addictive.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, the RSX has kept its value. These days, you’ll pay from about $17,000 to $21,500, depending upon equipment level. That’s not much of a drop from its original $24,900 to $33,000 price range. The Canadian Black Book has it at $17,900 for the base model, going up to $21,050 for the Type S. The Red Book, meanwhile, says $17,125 to $21,275.
Transport Canada has no safety recalls on file for the 2005 Acura RSX, and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has but two; both for minor headlight problems. As well, NHTSA has a relatively small 15 technical service bulletins for the RSX, most of which are for minor things like a squeaky rear window wiper, noisy suspension components and so on. Several cooling issues to report, however, as well as possibly faulty camshaft bearings. NHTSA also gives the RSX a five-star rating for frontal impact crashes and four stars for side impact and rollover.
Interestingly, marketing researcher, J.D. Power is less than ecstatic about the RSX, giving it "average" or below ratings in just about every area, with the exception of feature accessories quality.
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Ted is a famous writer who writes on the topics related to automotive news, auto reviews, auto show coverage for Driver-seat.
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