A dominant player in the sport compact market, the long-lived Acura Integra was replaced with the more powerful, more polished RSX in the summer of 2001. Modern looks, stronger powertrain, and better dressed interior reached out to a more mature, though decidedly youthful, audience. After three model years, the Acura RSX has been treated to a thorough freshening for 2005, adding new appeal to the hatchback sportster.
The already sharp appearance was made more dramatic for '05 with new front and rear fascias, complemented by new headlamps and taillights. A new grille contributes to the fresh face, while side sills visually lower the car. The net effect is the appearance of a modified car right from the factory, complete with five-split-spoke wheels and larger exhaust tip.
Inside, the RSX maintains a distinct personality, with a pod-like dash structure. By extending the main dash forward, it creates a true cockpit feel. As common on Acura products, the controls are logically designed and ergonomically placed, with all switchgear mounted at steering wheel height for easy access and viewing while driving.
Supporting the RSX's near-luxury pretensions, the uplevel Type-S cabin features standard amenities such as power windows/locks/mirrors, automatic climate control, Bose AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo with a subwoofer, moonroof, and leather upholstery.
Upgrades for '05 give the interior an even more premium feel, with white gauge faces replacing metallic ones, and the addition of both chrome and titanium trim accents.
The updated front bucket seats are dramatically shaped like the finest race seats, with large thigh, torso, and shoulder bolsters. The soft, slippery leather is perforated to help breathing and the seats are finished with a titanium garnish. These manually adjustable buckets may be too firm for some drivers, or too restrictive for others.
The rear two seats provide tight accommodations for adult-sized passengers, made even less comfortable by the sloping roofline and hatch glass.
A small car, the RSX makes the best of its 16-cu-ft cargo space with split-fold rear seats tilting flat. The wide, deep load floor is easy to access and quite useful, with a 60-inch maximum cargo depth. A slight five-inch cut in the rearward cargo wall lowers the lift height required to load the rear section. The hatch itself operates with little effort.
The RSX features the basic round of safety gear, including three-channel anti-lock brakes, dual-stage front airbags, front lap belt pretensioners, and side airbags. No traction control or stability control is offered.
Choosing a more proactive course, the same hardware that gives the car its feisty personality contributes to the active safety. Relatively aggressive 11.8-inch front and 10.2-inch rear disc brakes are supported by several system updates, such as shortened brake pedal stroke and larger diameter master cylinder, to provide quick, sure-footed stopping ability.
Likewise, the steering system has been made more responsive, without compromising road feel, or feedback isolation. Combined with suspension changes, the revised mechanical bits are the basis for more entertaining street performance and improved accident avoidance capability.