2006 Acura RSX Type-S
Honda's latest intelligent i-VTEC system makes the engine in the 2006 Acura RSX Type-S feel as though it conjures power out of nowhere. With its ability to optimize many engine operations across a wide range of engine speeds, i-VTEC takes an otherwise pleasant car and makes it a treat to drive. This performance doesn't come at the cost of comfort, however, since the RSX Type-S retains the light controls, the supportive seating, and the good visibility of its predecessors.
The aggressive aspects of this sportiest RSX's exterior styling are not overdone, and the tasteful restraint continues inside, with de rigueur metallic accents among the quality materials. The details are well executed throughout, and while the RSX Type-S's entry-level status means a lack of gadgets, its tenure as a darling of the small-displacement tuner set ensures that performance will always come first. Given that the price of entry for the Type-S is just $23,845, few drivers will feel shortchanged.
When you're sitting in the perforated-leather racing-style seats of the 2006 Acura RSX Type-S, there's little question as to the car's intended purpose. Clean black-on-white main gauges with zeroes in the six-o'clock position, a meaty leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel with inviting bulges on the rim, and an aluminum shift knob on the six-speed stick mark the RSX as a driver's car. The secondary controls are simple to operate, and the central area housing them cants toward the driver just enough for this welcome detail to be noticeable. Sadly, the six-CD in-dash changer stereo mounted in the center console is notable only for its dated inclusion of a motorized player for something called a cassette tape. Its best use now would be for an MP3 player with a cassette adapter, since the stereo provides no auxiliary audio input. The mostly useless rear seats, which appear to be one of the few items carried over from the original 1986 Integra nearly intact, might make a nice delete option. The moonroof and cruise-control switches, also reminiscent of the first-generation Integra in their look and placement to the left of the steering column, can stay. The Type-S neatly packages its standard subwoofer in the center of the space-saver spare wheel.
This strange rectangular hole under the stereo display can accept a cassette adapter for an MP3 player.
Outside, the Acura projects a somewhat less provocative message, but it doesn't hide its sporting pretensions. Especially with the 17-inch alloys standard on the Type-S (16 inches on the base car), the RSX has an eager stance and a look of chunky muscularity. Acura has gradually rounded off the first-generation RSX/Integra's squared-off corners and sharp creases, but it maintains the suggestion of a wedge in the latest model by steadily raising the body-contour line front to rear. Body-colored rocker-panel inserts and a small rear spoiler provide further subtle but suggestive cues.
Handling is taut and precise, and while the RSX will follow road imperfections under acceleration, it is among the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars we've driven. A beefy front strut-tower brace aids an already stiff chassis, and the nicely weighted variable-assist steering puts the RSX right where you want it. The RSX feels right at home on undulating and twisting roads, and running the i-VTEC motor through its 8,000rpm paces between corners never gets old.
The heart and soul of the 2006 Acura RSX Type-S are its engine and transmission. The i-VTEC system with Variable Timing Control (VTC) manipulates valve timing and lift via a regular VTEC two-stage camshaft; it also regulates oil pressure and allows variable camshaft position for a range of adjustability.
The incredibly efficient engine on the Acura RSX Type-S produces over 200 horsepower and still gets 24.4mpg.
All this computing power produces motive power in a way few road-car engines can match. It wrings 201 horsepower (hp) from two liters of displacement without the aid of forced-air induction, for a most impressive specific output of more than 100hp per liter. In practice, the motor provides a tempting and self-reinforcing combination of low-inertia revviness and the reward of a nice shove in the back for exploiting it. This and the precise shift action make keeping up the power flow a pleasure. Adding an aftermarket performance computer would be a good way to see if you can shave a few tenths of a second off your commute or your favorite weekend drive.
But even given its penchant for redline-reaching antics, i-VTEC helps the RSX Type-S return a LEV-2 emissions rating and EPA fuel-mileage ratings of 23mpg city and 31mpg highway. Our test car got 24.4mpg over five days of spirited driving, mostly on secondary roads.
The Acura RSX Type-S offers front and side air bags with passenger-side detection. ABS comes standard on the four-wheel disc brakes, and the Type-S's 11.8-inch front rotors are larger than the standard RSX's 10.3-inch fronts. Halogen headlights brightly illuminate the road at night, and front and rear crumple zones bolster the car's crashworthiness. Acura's vehicle warranty provides four years or 50,000 miles of coverage, with six years or 70,000 miles of coverage for the power train. The i-VTEC engine requires its first major tune-up at 110,000 miles.