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2002 Acura RSX

     It’s not easy to say goodbye to an old friend. When that old friend is as good as the Acura Integra, the event can leave a grown man in tears. But Acura would like to introduce you to a new friend. One they claim is better than the old friend in everyway. Its name is RSX and it’s ready to make you forget the Integra ever existed.
     First introduced in concept form at last years North American International Auto Show, and the production RSX debuted at the New York International Auto Show in April of last year.
     At first glance, you’ll notice the refreshing new styling that makes the RSX easily identifiable as an Acura. Thankfully, the Integra’s long outdated four round headlights have been replaced by large, swept back, clear lens lights. The now familiar pentagonal grille is present and accounted for as is the clean, attractive sheet metal, that’s symbolic of Acura’s current great range of automobiles. The RSX’s rear end is an evolution of the Integra and the dogleg c-pillar is an attractive addition. If there’s one thing for us to complain about, it’s the absence of any exterior differences between the base RSX and the high performance RSX Type-S. Differentiating the two is close to impossible, not even the industry norm of different style wheels is exercised here. The only way to identify a Type-S from the exterior is to hunt for the small badge on the hatch.
     The RSX’s interior is greatly improved over the Integras and can now be regarded as a truly comfortable, quiet, place to be for the daily commute, or back road blast. The overall feel of the materials has been bumped up a notch on the quality pole and the gauges have a nice, sporty look, without going overboard like the Lexus IS300. Like most Acuras, the RSX’s options list is shorter than Danny DeVito. Drivers of the base RSX have only a leather interior and a sunroof to contemplate plunking down extra dough for. Standard niceties include a 6-disc in dash CD changer coupled to a Bose stereo and a hatch residing Bose BassBox subwoofer. And because the RSX is 2.56 inches taller than the Integra, front seat headroom has been improved. The rear “seats” will need to be reserved for emergencies or cargo duty. The seats hug you firmly in place when the going gets brisk and controls fall easily to hand.
     Though no doubt what enthusiasts are worried about is the RSX’s drivetrain. The base RSX gets a 20hp stronger 2.0-liter i-VTEC four cylinder good for 160hp. It’s coupled to either a five-speed manual or a SportShift autobox. Rule of thumb, opt for the manual to keep the engine high in the rpm range and the fun quotient high in “Yippeeee!” land. Yet hardcore enthusiasts will want to move up to the Type-S model. A move that’s well worth the extra cost. The RSX Type-S has the same 2.0-liter i-VTEC four as the base model except that it has variable valve timing on the exhaust side as compared to intake side only and uses stronger internals throughout. A higher compression rate of 11.0:1 versus 9.8:1 is about the only other major mechanical difference between the two engines. The differences are enough to create 200hp at 7,400rpm and 142lb-ft of torque at 6,000rpm. The only transmission available is a close ratio six-speed manual with short ratios that will help the driver keep the engine in its sweet spot, north of the stratosphere. The Type-S also gets larger front discs measuring 11.8-inches and both models use 10.2-inch discs out back.
     The RSX Type-S should have the right stuff to get from 0 to 60 mph in about 6.7 seconds. All RSX’s get 205/55/R-16 Michelin MXM-4 all-season tires. A stickier set of rubber would be a welcome improvement to an almost rock solid package.
     The RSX runs from just under $20,000 to just over $23,000. With prices like that don’t expect them to sit unloved very long.
Sending our old friend the Integra off to that big racetrack in the sky would bring a tear to anyone’s eye. Fortunately for us, the only crying related to the new RSX, will be tears of joy.

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