Pros: Power, handling, quality, "Best Bang for a Buck".
Cons: Cramped rear seats, odd seat position.
The 2006 Acura RSX has a long and popular history, which started back in the late 1980s when the car was named the Integra. That car was the precursor to the sport compact world of today; it was small, light and quick. The same can be said for the RSX Type-S, but with this rendition, it is a whole lot better.
This $24,460 coupe is a true screamer. This little 2840 lb. two-door coupe is not only fast, but also incredibly nimble in the turns. The best part is even though it is a performer, it is still tame enough for everyday use.
This speedy little rocket gets its power from a 2.0 liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder rated at 201 horsepower and 140 lb. of torque. With it's 8100 rpm redline, it loves to rev. And you really have to rev this engine as all those horses to come together at 7800 rpm.
With this high revving four, blasting to that redline is a tremendous joy. Stomp the Go pedal and and hang on. The surprisingly smooth engine will roar up to the 8100 rpms with no hesitation, especially once the second cam kicks in at around 6000 for that extra little kick.
The good news is that even though it can go to 8100 rpms, doesn't mean that you have to go there when driving normally. The engine can handle the stop-n-go of rush hour without being thrashed around. The ease of shifting the six speed, while sometimes vague when trying to find a 5th or 6th gear, uses no effort to move, and with the short travel of the light clutch, makes this Type-S quite simple to drive.
The nimble handling puts the car right where you want it. You want to get around the car in front of you and cut back in, the car can handle it with ease. The steering is on the heavy side, but it a fast, communicative piece that compliements the rest of the car very well. Driving the Type-S around the city can be done without the driver becoming frustrated and tired.
However, this Acura really isn't meant to be driven with other cars.
It wants to be alone, outside the confines of stop lights and six lane highways. It belongs on a patch of road similar to a race track where it can be its true self.
This car loves to be pushed to its limits. The RSX feels almost like a monster coming to life when driving at full tilt. The RSX seems to drive better when you hustle it. The drivetrain, the car, the driver, all become one. It was almost like the car plugged into me. I have never driven any car that comes close to the sheer joy I had in this car.
The sport suspension makes this Acura a real curve carver. With the sharp steering, you point the car and the chassis hunkers down and the car sticks to the road. At the same time, going over potholes and crumbled streets are well suppressed, with only a slight tick coming up through the seat.
However, the body of the car does not seem to like the bumps in the road. It is not bad really, but there was a slight shimmy within the body around the windshield and A-pillars. It may have very well been a fluke on my test car, but it was something that was unexpected in a car like this.
The body shimmy aside, the rest of the car compliments the driving aspect very well. The interior of the RSX is an incredibly nice piece. Everything is made of high quality plastics. The simple interior looks great and is user-friendly. With the hatch design, the trunk can hold several bags and suitcases. With the rear seats folded down, the back can swallow something that is almost five feet long.
Just don't try to put anyone in the tiny rear seats for more than a few minutes, or there will be plenty of complaints.
Everything inside this car is geared toward the driver. The well-bolstered leather seats confine you to one spot, the dash and center controls that house the HVAC and standard Bose stereo are angled to be within easy reach of the driver. It's like your own little cockpit with four wheels.
One gripe about the interior. The seating position in this car is a bit odd. The RSX sits low to the ground for better handling and for some reason, so does the seats. You get into the car, sit down, and it feels like you are stretching your legs straight to get to the pedals. This is not a bad thing at all as the seats are still comfortable, but it is an odd feeling nonetheless.
Probably the only real sour part of this fantastic car is the exterior.
The Acura looks classy and slightly racy from the front, but the back is so unappealing. The rear of the car is made of two rectangles stuck together; one piece is part of the hatch and the other is the rear bumper. There is a piece of black plastic low in the bumper that breaks up the monotony, but it doesn't help much. For a car that performs at this level, its looks should envoke the same emotions as the drive.
The Acura RSX Type-S is phenomenal. It does everything you ask of it and more. It's comes fully loaded with power everything, sunroof, amazing Bose stereo, leather and 17-inch tires.
The sport coupe is comfortable for everyday, is insane when you push it, and the reliablity known to Honda is there to back it up, which is now even better when these cars now receive 6-year/70,000 mile powertrain warranty and a 4-year/50,000 mile limited warranty.
At $24,000, it's the bargain of the decade.