The Acura RSX Type-S is an exquisite car, one that had large shoes to fill when it replaced the venerable Integra in July 2001. True to form, aftermarket suppliers immediately started developing parts to help owners differentiate their cars. We occasionally get the chance to drive modified cars, and what the tuners produce is usually great fun, but at the expense of the vehicle's warranty and in some cases, its reliability. That's fine for a used-car buyer, but many are hesitant to void the warranty on their new baby.
Realizing that 40 percent of RSX sales are of the Type-S variety, Acura decided in 2002 to introduce Factory Performance parts, following Honda's lead. The idea is to offer another performance step beyond the Type-S. For 2004, Acura has switched its performance parts name to A-Spec. This A-Spec package helps feed our (i.e., enthusiasts') hunger for real sporting machines.
The RSX Type-S makes 200 bhp and has a slick-shifting 6-speed transmission. It's loads of fun to squirt within traffic. For those who really like to push a car to its limits, there is more to be had from the RSX than what the Type-S gives us. And that is where the A-Spec package comes into the picture.
The RSX Type-S A-Spec package includes stiffer shocks and springs that lower the car an inch. Upgraded multi-spoke alloy wheels are 17 x 7 1/2 in. and fitted with more aggressive rubber. Our car had Yokohama AVS ES100 tires, size 225/ 45R-17, which really stuck like glue.
A few interesting notes on the sport-tuned suspension: It has a higher cornering capacity, but understeer is still prominent, just like the unmodified Type-S. On quick switchbacks oversteer can be induced, something the original Type-S didn't do. The A-Spec definitely has a more stable and planted feel than the Type-S without sacrificing much in the way of ride quality. If I were buying a new RSX, this is the one I'd get, although I might opt to leave off the wing.
To help distinguish the A-Spec upgrades, a color-matched front air dam and trim kit are installed, as well as a rear wing. For the driver, there is a nice metal shift knob and different badging. Overall, it's aesthetically pleasing and it's not so low that it scrapes on everything, just some things — it's advised that drivers enter parking lots and cross speed bumps at an angle.
The RSX's A-Spec package will cost $4164, dealer installation. And for those who don't have the money at the time of purchase, you can always go back to the dealer and get it upgraded later. For the more well-to-do, the TL is also offered with an A-Spec package. Either way, you can drive off in an edgier, better-handling Acura, with warranty fully intact.