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Rust or Lust: Acura RSX Type-S

Posted in Acura, Beater Cars, Car Reviews, Cars, Foreign Cars, Honda, Import Review by Corey | May 21st, 2009 | 4 Responses |

In our last installment we sprung Prince Albert from his can to profile a British minx, the Jaguar XK8/XKR. Today, we’re examining the progeny of Soichiro Honda. Honda love runs deep. We understand and respect this. If you’ve tattooed the phrase “DC5 Forever” on your chest, stop reading now. If not, listen to our sad tale of the car that forgot where it came from.

<i>Also known as the Honda Integra in Japan.</i>

Also known as the Honda Integra in Japan.

The theme today is stepping out of the shadow of one’s predecessor. The RSX’s pappy was the DC2 Integra of 1994-2001. And the baddest DC2 was the Type R. The name has since become diluted by certain people’s slavish devotion to slapping “Type R” stickers all over anything that moves, but the original Type R was no appearance package. To understand the RSX, you have to understand the Type R.

<i>A DC2 Type R with aftermarket wheels.</i>

A DC2 Type R with aftermarket wheels.

The 1.8L B18C5 engine was heavily modified from the stock GSR, including an entirely new head design, molybendium-coated high-compression pistons, lighter connecting rods, a balanced crankshaft to support higher revs, and hand-polished intake runners. Making 197 HP at 8000 RPMs and maximum torque (130 ft-lbs.) at 7500 RPMs, this was a motor made to scream on a level not usually seen outside of motorcycles or F1 cars. A close ratio 5-speed helped keep the revs up, and a 150 lb. diet helped this front-driver hit 0-60 in 7 seconds and pull 0.92Gs on the skidpad. It was a serious drivers car, but the best part was the chassis. Beautifully neutral in most situations, skilled drivers could coax oversteer in appropriate situations out of the Type R’s chassis. A limited slip helped put the power down when you exited the corner. That’s why this isn’t a Rust or Lust about the Type R: it’s a LUST shoe-in. It was, quite simply, universally regarded as possibly the most balanced front-wheel-drive sports car ever created.

<i>K20A2 engine.</i>

K20A2 engine.

Honda, for some inexplicable reason (but likely involving a meeting between bean-counters and the marketing department), decided to wipe the slate clean and start anew, creating a common chassis to underpin the both the RSX and the 2001 Honda Civic. Possibly an engineer with any sense of poignancy shed a single tear. We can’t be certain. What is clear is that this was meant to leave the DC2’s boy-racer image behind and to cater to a more sophisticated (read: older and wealthier) clientele. Along with the increasing girth of their newly-sought customers came some poundage – about 250lbs more than the outgoing Type R. Despite making 200 HP from its 2.0L K20A2 motor, and ticking off the old Type-Rs 0-60 time by a half-second, the RSX had lost something.


That something was poise and balance. No longer was the raison d’être of the car to be the track weapon its predecessor was. By switching to MacPhearson struts in the front and porking the thing up, they’d killed the scalpel-like precision of the old car. The new variable-resistance steering sucked, with big dead spots and crappy feel. The chassis was set up to understeer. It looked like a streamlined suppository. As one wit on the Automobile Magazine quipped, its “a modern Toyota Paseo.” Ouch. Ultimately, this isn’t so much about what the RSX was (a luxury coupe for 28-year old marketing managers), but about what it wasn’t (a car better than the one it replaced). That’s why we can’t love, nay, lust after the RSX. It is the equivalent of taking fine sake and diluting it with Pepsi.

Verdict: RUST


While the Type R will no doubt be a sort of ’66 Mustang K-Code Fastback of the future, the RSX will find itself in a no-mans land, lacking the charisma to inspire nostalgia and therefore being unable to justify its existence. The engines will be cannibalized for use in track-day cars, and what is left will likely be an unseemly pile of primered nonsense. If you have one, love it, but don’t expect it to become the next barn-find Bugatti.

[Sources: Wikipedia, AutomobileMag, Motortrend.com]

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4 Responses

  1. Biotech is Godzilla says:

    I hope every verdict of “Rust” is accompanied by a pic of a smashed car.
    Acuras may be sporty, but man, they sure aren’t (from the outside) luxurious.

  2. Nate says:

    The DC5, no doubt, isn’t the track car the DC2 was. That said, it handled better and was quicker than its competition. Beyond that, it is the only car I’ve ever been completely satisfied with aesthetically. It is beautiful to look at, especially for a FWD hatchback. This and the 2004-2009ish TLs were the last thoroughly attractively Acuras. Respect ‘em.

  3. Richard says:

    I don’t necessarily agree with this all of what was written about the DC5 chasis. Sure you touched on the fact that some of the changes that were made took away from the overall spirit of the integra, but all in all, I would much rather have a DC5 chasis with a K20 engine than a B18C5 any day! This is also probably why most Honda civic owners and even Integra owners are performing K20 swaps. With that said, there is a huge following for the DC5 chasis as there was and still is for the DC2 chasis. Check out http://www.clubrsx.com if you don’t believe me ;-)

  4. eric and tanya says:

    Thats radical dude! That acura rsx was nice until they crashed that beautiful piece of ass