Another disappointment we were hoping would be addressed with the '05 would be higher performance rolling stock. Instead of a proper high performance summer tire, or at least high performance all seasons, we get a bigger version of the same old junk. It's the same make and model Michelin Pilot MXM H4 that was on the earlier RSX models. We can only hope the compound in the larger size does something (anything) better whereas the old ones surely made great garden hoses when recycled. It's a common gripe we have, but please offer a summer tire option at the very least.
For the chassis, it's nice to see Honda spent some time stiffening some critical areas, but was it necessary? The RSX chassis was already massively sturdier than the Integra it replaced. Considering the Type-S is 73 lbs. heavier, the additional weight burden may override the benefits. The caster increase will improve high speed stability – the Germans tend to run large caster angles for precisely this reason – and increasing the negative camber is sure to boost grip while cornering. Combine this with a lower, stiffer suspension, firmer strut tower bar (Type-S), stiffer bushings, and beefier anti-swaybars and we're at about the level where the RSX should have originally been introduced.
For me, a big improvement is going to be in the power steering. When autocrossing, the power steering falls behind when pushing the vehicle through tight slaloms. When that happens, I really need to muscle the wheel around to get the car turned, and that slows me down. I hope the increase in pump flow cures this. Also, the marginally quicker steering ratio matches that of the '04 S2000, which is good news, although something even quicker would be nice (say, 13.8 like the '00-'03 S2000s).
On the brakes: a more aggressive pad material would be nice, but there's usually a compromise in noise, dust, life, modulation, or another key factor and the stock ones work pretty well. It would be nice to have seen some reinforcement in bracing the master cylinder since it flexes on the brake booster under hard pedal pressure. Maybe this has been improved on the '05 – we'll see.
For the interior, there aren't many changes. The new, white faced gauges have chrome accent rings around them. They're probably a bit easier to read due to the higher contrast, but readability has never been a problem – the gauge cluster is superb and could only be improved by placing the tach dead-center with a smaller speedo to the side, a la Porsche. The seats have revised cushions and bolsters, although from a support standpoint, appear the same. A few other tweaks include perforated leather on the door side panels, upgraded dash covering material, and a few minor chrome highlights. Let's also hope that the leather is more wear resistant. We're still waiting for the day when Honda offers grippier Alcantara-like material in all their sports cars like on the Civic Si.
What we don't see is where the big changes reside. More sound deadening material in the roof and doors, as well as new weather stripping around the mirrors should quiet the somewhat loud cabin at highway speeds. Honda says the material is lightweight, but is it really?
So what about the weight increase? The base model gains 40 lbs., but doesn't really gain any features aside from beefier swaybars and a reinforced steering column and brake pedal. This should not equal anywhere close to 40 lbs., so the weight has to come from the chassis stiffening measures and additional sound deadening material. That means the Type-S additional goodies add up to 33 lbs.: larger wheels and tires, a spoiler, a stouter strut tower bar, beefier swaybars, and an extra subframe engine mount. Ouch! This cabin better be as quiet as a tomb and solid as a rock.
Overall, the 2005 RSX has some welcomed improvements. In fact, assuming you don't find the styling tweaks offensive, the only drawback seems to be the increased weight. All the other changes should be improvements in making the already enjoyable RSX that much more inviting and exciting to drive. It's a shame Honda still has neglected to give the US a full-blown Type-R complete with 220HP, an 8500RPM redline, track ready suspension, and LSD, but at least they've addressed some of the concerns we've had with the earlier RSX models. This editor doesn't see any substantial improvements that would make him upgrade from his 2002 Type-S, but for new customers, the RSX should continue to be a class leader.
Copyright 2004 Temple of VTEC