Having read everything there is to read about the enhancements to Acura's compact sports coupe, the only thing left on my 2005 Acura RSX To Do List was to climb behind the wheel and turn the key for the first time. That moment was actually supposed to take place this week at a press introduction in West Palm Beach, Florida, but since West Palm took a direct hit from Hurricane Frances, those plans were scotched on Monday.
The RSXs that were supposed to be in Florida for the event were diverted here to Atlanta, allowing us to get our hands on one for a full week rather than part of a day. While we'll miss out on the track impressions (Moroso was on the itinerary of the press launch) for the time being, at least we'll be able to go ahead and dyno test the new motor and we'll have extended street time with the car. We will get the track impressions during a followup road test later this fall.
At first blush, it would seem that the changes to the 2005 RSX are pretty subtle. But if you look a few layers below the surface, you will see that Honda engineers have been working diligently to dramatically improve the RSX-S. While the RSX-S has been widely praised by the press in general, I've always felt that there were some areas that could use improvement. These feelings were cemented after I finally had the chance to drive "real" Japanese-spec 2004 Integra Type Rs and Civic Type Rs.
In my opinion, the '02-'04 RSX-S's shortcomings were primarily related to the engine and the chassis. While the K20A2 engine makes nice power once the high-rpm cam profile kicks in, it feels a little too flat in the low and particularly the middle rpm ranges. And since VTEC doesn't activate until about 5800 rpms, that means pretty much everything below 6000rpms, which doesn't make for a very pretty picture in terms of power delivery. From an aesthetics standpoint, the K20A2's slightly boomy, somewhat uninspiring engine note left a bit to be desired, particularly when stacked against the glorious sound of the Type R's K20A. From a chassis perspective, the RSX was a fine drive around town, but once you'd pick up the pace, it wasn't quite up to normal sporty Honda standards. My biggest beef with the handling was the slightly twitchy nature of the rear suspension and a lack of composure under certain challenging road conditions. The other problem was that the chassis wasn't tuned to deal with the velocities that the vehicle can easily and quickly achieve - it was just too soft and the tires didn't provide nearly enough grip. So I was really keen on Acura addressing these two major areas for the '05 model.