The Acura RSX was an automobile sold by Honda in North America and Hong Kong. The vehicle was marketed as the replacement for the Acura-badged version of the Integra, however Honda continues to sell the vehicle as the Honda Integra in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. It is available in base and “Type-S” trim levels in North America, and a “Integra iS / Integra Type S” and “Type R” version sold in Japan and Oceania. However, to add to the confusion, the “Type R” sold in Oceania is very similar to the “Type-S” sold in North America, and the Integra line naming in Oceania have recently been realigned so it’s similar to North American conventions. Canada had three models: Base (no sunroof or leather), Premium (U.S. Base) and Type S. In other places, (eg. Hong Kong, Singapore, Austria) only the base version is available.
When designing the RSX, Honda chose to base it on an entirely new platform, rather than incrementally re-engineering the previous Integra/Civic platform. This new chassis would also be shared with the 2001 Civic. This was a significant change from the previous 1998 revision of the Integra, which had only been a minor refresh. In addition, this platform was the first entirely new entry-level chassis Honda had debuted since 1994. Owing to its more capable and luxurious nature, the Acura division chose to market the vehicle as the Integra’s replacement, and badged it as the RSX. Touting the vehicle’s more upscale feature-set and more luxurious amenities, Acura hoped to use the RSX to help garner more brand recognition and respect from older, wealthier buyers who tended to see the company’s offerings, especially the Integra, as sporty and reliable, but not as mature or luxurious. Outside of North America, where the Acura division did not exist at the time, Honda chose to continue selling the model as the Integra, and continued to aim the car at younger men who wanted something nicer than a Civic Si without having to spend considerably more money.
The RSX suspension employs MacPherson struts in the front and double-wishbone suspension in the rear. This engineering decision disappointed some Honda enthusiast who had come to appreciate Honda’s philosophy of employing double-wishbones for both front and rear suspensions. However, the K-series engine proved to have significant potential for tuning, a trait shared with the B-series engines previously employed in Integra and certain performance-oriented Civic models. The K-series engine features intelligent VTEC or (i-VTEC), which electronically adjusts valve lift, valve duration and valve timing, giving the 2.0 L engine a flatter torque curve and smooth power transition relative to previous VTEC implementations which only adjusted valve lift and valve duration.
The base RSX has the K20A3 motor with a specific output of 160 hp (119 kW) and is offered with either an automatic or a five-speed manual transmission; and the Type-S has a 200 hp (2002-2004) K20A2 or 210 hp (157 kW) in 2005 K20Z1 motor and a short-throw 6-speed manual transmission. For 2006 model year vehicles Honda has switched to the Rev 8/04 SAE standards for measuring hp. The base RSX for 2006 is rated at 155 hp (116 kW) and the Type-S is rated at 201 hp (150 kW). In 2005 the RSX Type-S received camshafts, b-pipe and muffler from the exhaust, 4.77 final drive ratio, crankshaft pulley and the intake snorkel duct from the Japanese model Honda Integra Type-R. Rev-limit was also increased from 8100 rpms to 8300 rpms.
The Honda Integra Type R, sold in Japan, Australia, and some other markets, has reduced weight, a 220 PS / 164 kW / 217 hp (162 kW) K20A engine (Japan-only; Oceania models have an engine similar to the Acura RSX-S), as well as a limited slip differential (LSD) and stiffer springs and shocks, Brembo brakes, 17″ wheels on Bridgestone Potenza tires, Recaro suede seats, body trim, and more. The IIHS did not rate the RSX.
Although it has been a strong seller for Honda, the RSX does not fit within the confines of Acura’s re-structured market strategy, formulated after the decision to take the Acura brand worldwide (previously, the Acura nameplate has appeared only in North America, elsewhere in the world the same models are sold as Hondas). With the introduction of the similarly powerful and less expensive 2006 model-year Honda Civic Si to the marketplace, the decision has been made to discontinue production of the RSX, with the final units slated to be built in summer 2006. Because of its lower pricing and longer list of available options, Honda considers the new Si to be a more viable choice for performance minded young men, who are the most common buyers of RSXs. Speculatory articles seem to indicate that a 2-door variant of the new TSX will replace the RSX as Acura’s entry-level sports coupe, although it will be more luxurious, more expensive and more powerful than the RSX and will thus likely appeal to a different market segment.
Dick Collier, Vice President of Public Relations at Honda Motor Co. has said that there would be no 2007 RSX. However, he indirectly implied that the RSX will make its debut back into the Acura scene in the near future as Honda enthusiasts were outraged by the discontinuation of the RSX. According to consumer sales, Acura took a drastic plunge after the RSX was discontinued