I have had the 2005 Acura RSX S-Type Magnesium metallic with titanium interior for a little over a year now.
I am a car enthusiast and wouldn't dream of buying a car other than a stick shift. Had a '99 Toyota Corolla stick previously (bought that one straight out of school) and had it for a little over a year. Been out of college for a yr n a half now, not married n no kids - don't plan to have them anytime soon either :-). So a coupe works fine for me.
The next two sections can be skipped if you are not interested in knowing my reasons for buying the RSX.
I spent about 4 months researching all cars - and test drove a lot of vehicles - BMW 3 series (325 and 330i), Audi A4 (1.8 and 3.0), Acura (TL,TSX,RSX and RSX S-Type), Lexus (G330,I300), Infiniti G35, Honda S2000, Toyota Celica, (though I thought Scion TC looked good, had a bad experience with the dealer and ended up not test driving - made me wait 40 minutes because they did not have a sales person!!). Started off with sedans and moved towards coupes as I started feeling sedans do feel bigger and so not sporty enough. Considered convertibles n dropped off because I would have had to keep my current car (having a 2 seater all the time did not seem too practical to me).
BMW or Audi were pretty much my choices if I decided to go for a sedan... though TL and G35 had more power I did not have the same kind of handling/feel with them! I couldn't take a curve at 70 mph and not be anxious about it in anything apart from A4 and 3 series. Since I moved to coupes - RSX S-Type was pretty much my top choice based on handling, power and features.
Other options considered in coupe:
Celica & Mini Cooper- I see more gals driving it than guys :)
Scion TC - probably a good option especially for the price but as I said above I had some issues with the dealership and lost interest in the car. They made me wait over an hour for a test drive.. n i walked away.
Mustang - driven it a couple of times on rental and not too impressed with performance. Wish though the RSX looked as good....especially '05 Mustang.
Finally RSX - handling was really good and has a pretty good reliability in terms of ratings (no problems like TL's vibration issues). Good interior though would have liked it darker (magnesium exterior comes with titanium interior - no option to change to ebony interior).
So after a lot of deliberation decided on RSX S-Type because of the short shifting 6 speed, interior, horsepower and handling.
Buying the car:
Had to wait quite a bit because 05's are always in short supply and most dealers had a long wait time though all of them had a lot of TL's! The only way I could get one quicker was if I decided to compromise in color and take pearl white which I was not willing to do. Anyways, took about a month to get my color and S-Type from a dealer in Atlanta (Carland-Duluth). Happened to deal through my credit union and so got documentation fee waived though they hiked the price by 80 bucks on the last day!!
Was not too bad an experience with the dealer to pick the car, though I ended up waiting almost an hour for the Finance person in the dealership to check all papers and take my cheque. On the whole, I spent about 2.5 hours in the dealership. The cars are shipped assembled from Japan and so take 1 month from date of manufacturing for you to be able to take delivery. The MSRP was $23,570+$550 (destination charge) and $21900 or so for invoice. I ended up getting it at about $23,160 + tax for a total of about $24,400 including 5% tax.
Review of the car:
Overall impression until now has been pretty good. Nice interior and really good power. Let me go over the details:
Nice but not great! :) Over the older version of RSX ('02-'04) a few things have been changed, specifically the headlights are pointed, tail lights have a different feel and I think has an extra light, 17" wheels. Looks great especially with magnesium metallic or silver with the rear spoiler, 17" wheels look sportier. I believe the rear spoiler cannot be changed though which sucks. Overall, is pretty nice but still room for improvement especially to move away from the traditional look of Honda. If you forget the rest of the car, the front can be sometimes mistaken for a Civic.
I really liked the interior of the car. Acuras have a much better interior than most other cars I test drove. A lot of features are regular and part of the basic package which makes it even nicer. The RSX Type-S has no options except whether you want lo-jack which I obviously refused (for people not familiar with lo-jack, it's a device to find your vehicle if stolen).
The car comes with perforated nice leather seats, a nicely driver oriented dashboard, tachometer and speedometer, 2 trip meters, intermittent wiper, back wiper, auto mirrors with heating, temperature controlled ac, defroster, 2 cup holders for front and 1 for back, a couple of spots to hold stuff. What would have made it nicer: heated seats (DUH!!), hand rest (available for about 150 bucks through some online retailers though), auto dimming mirror, vanity mirror light! Still pretty good for the price range it is in.
Some people may not agree with my opinion, but I was kind of disappointed with the performance of the audio system. I expected more from a 6 CD changed Bose audio system. I have to increase the volume a lot more than what is pleasant to hear clear. The base and treble is nice but still lacks clarity. I believe the 2000-2003 TL has Bose too but they seem to sound better!
Not too noisy inside and some changes have been made in the 2005 model to reduce inside noise, but still its not a car for a regular driver! I mean, if you don't care about drive feel and want a comfortable/noiseless car, you should look elsewhere (probably the Lexus).
the techie stuff:
Amazing power and handling. If you cannot shift gears on this car, you just cannot shift gears!! Because the gear system is really smooth and perfectly set that it's a pleasure driving this car. Type-S comes with a short throw 6 speed... so you shift quicker than most sticks - @ 13 (1-2), 26 (2-3), 39 (3-4), 45 (4-5) and 50 (5-6)! So you basically can hit 6th gear at 50 mph but the fun part is that the peak rpm is 8100!!! The advertised 210 hp of the car is actually reached at 7800 rpm... so you can floor the pedal as much as you want and still not hit the red line which is AMAZING! I hit 8* mph ;) on a ramp trying to reach the red line on 3rd gear the first time around.
The 6th gear at 50 mph is nice on highways because you can hit 6th immediately when you enter the interstate but you don't need to and can drive on a lower gear at higher rpm.
The official specs for this vehicle are 210 hp (10 hp more than the older version of Type-S. regular RSX comes at 160 hp) at 6400 rpm, 16 valve 4 cylinder inline engine. It still cannot come close to say an M3 but then you are talking out of league if you are comparing these two! Within its class, the S-TYPE kicks a$$....
Currently I have been getting between 24-25 miles per gallon in mixed driving (partly interstate and partly inner roads). It requires premium fuel and holds about 13 gallons for each refuel. The car comes with 50 K/4 year warranty but does not cover oil/maintenance like BMWs. No maintenance issues until now (its been a year).
Now for small quirks :)
Initially I thought the storage compartment/cup holder in same spot is a neat idea but now wish the cup holder was not below the small storage compartment because I leave my home remote over there and I need to remove my coffee mug from the cup holder if I need the remote. :) I know it's confusing but you will get it if you check the front cup holder during a test drive. The vanity mirror has no lights...duhh!! Back room in the car is pretty limited but good for occasional use - cannot be used on a regular basis especially by tall people. I do feel the 3rd gear popping out once in a while, but I don't stay in 3rd gear for long and so does not matter much... but could be an issue for others. Hand-rest is a major miss on the part of the usually detail conscious Acura, though I got an aftermarket hand-rest installed. Overall, really nice but can get better on a few things.
I decided not to do any modifications yet, but theres a good kit available at: http://www.cybernationmotorsports.com/
Cost of insurance:
Insurance cost for me is pretty high - about $750 and more than what I would have paid for a 2003 Honda S-2000! Not sure of the exact reason, but I did find that the regular RSX is about $100 cheaper for every half year. Could be because of the higher rpm but still the insurance is kind of steep.
In its class - the RSX S-Type really stands out and I wouldn't dream of getting any of the others for this price but a better exterior look would make this car a class apart! I still wonder why Acura does not have a good convertible like TT or Z4.
If I decided on a sedan, would have been the 3 series 325i with stick, or if I had more money I might have gotten the M3 or SLK 350 (just for looks).
Just an added comment:
I am unable to comment on the regular RSX as, though I test drove it, I never considered it seriously. But just based on costs, the S-Type works better if you are interested in 17" wheels, stick and leather seats.
Amount Paid (US$):
2005Model and Options:
Acura RSX-S Type