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2002 Acura RSX

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SAN FRANCISCO:  The Acura Integra was a very popular car. In fact, it was so good that it still attracted buyers with an eight-year-old design. However, except for the throwback Morgan, change inevitably arrives. Welcome to the 2002 Acura RSX.

If change is inevitable, then it also presents an opportunity for improvement. Even the original Volkswagen Beetle eventually gave way to the front-engine, water-cooled Rabbit, which is now called the Golf. As the new Acura RSX displaces the more euphonious Integra, there is much for driving enthusiasts to celebrate.

With its vigorous four-door sibling, the TL, in the fold, the RSX can concentrate on the hot coupe market; so there is no longer a four-door model. The RSX can be had in two coupe versions, the plain (but hardly ordinary) RSX and the mighty Type-S. Both employ a fresh take on Honda's legendary VTEC technology to wring prodigious quantities of performance from a dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine with just two liters of displacement.

The RSX winds up a generous 160 horsepower and 141 lb.-ft of torque in the vanilla version, but the Type-S gets a screaming 200 horsepower out of the same engine, plus one extra pound-foot of torque. Pulling along just 2,778 pounds of car, and with a 7,900 rpm redline, that's good for some quick acceleration. Mileage is encouraging, at 24 city/31 highway for the potent Type-S and 27/33 for the regular car. You can subtract 3 mpg from the city driving average if you order the optional automatic transmission.

The new improved engine somehow manages to increase performance while improving fuel economy and lowering emissions at the same time. Both versions of the RSX qualify as Low Emissions Vehicles, and neither needs a tune-up for 110,000 miles under normal circumstances.

The advanced iVTEC system is engineered to provide extremely precise control of the valve timing, lift, and duration over the engine's entire operating range. The "intelligent" iVTEC system uses variable valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC) and also adds Variable Timing Control (VTC). This magical computerized upgrade continuously advances or retards the intake camshaft for enhanced performance. A high tech, dual-stage air intake manifold helps too.

The Type-S receives a new 6-speed manual transmission that meets and exceeds even Honda's (Acura's) standards for precision and effortlessness. I didn't even mind the constant shifting necessitated by rush hour commuting.

Performance is a great thing, but what's the car like to look at? How does it feel to sit in? The body is a thorough 21st century update of the old Integra two-door. The formerly small circular headlamps are now larger ovals that are laid back into the front of the car in chromed bezels. The round bottoms are cut into the lower bumper, kind of like a Mercedes. A narrow, smiling grille on a pointed nose gives the RSX some Acura family resemblance.

The hunkered down shape of the RSX makes it look and feel racy. It is hard to get a long, sleek look on a 172-inch car, but a high, tapered window line and a nose-to-tail lower body character line help to visually lengthen the car. Unadorned sides keep the eye moving along.

Inside, a unique woven texture on the dash conveys quality and substance. Silvery touches all over the cabin give it sparkle, from the cup holders to the dash accents, knobs, and shifter top. The gauges contribute to the theme, resembling silver-coated coffee cup lids, which stand out against a flat black background. A stippling of dots on the dash top and shifter knob contributes a high-tech feeling.

High-mounted controls are easy to see and use. The door panels offer three levels of storage crannies, and the console offers a two-way sliding door that changes the space from cup holders to a tray with the push of a button.

Deeply bolstered driving seats are firm in a sporty, comfortable way, like an Audi. The leather is perforated where it touches your body, for extra comfort on those warm days.

The Type-S may be the top of the line, but every RSX has automatic climate control, a power moonroof, keyless entry with an engine immobilizer, a full-blown audio system with in-dash CD player, and power windows, mirrors, and locks.

The RSX, especially one like my Blackhawk Black Pearl Type-S, generates significant road noise with its Michelin MXM4 low profile tires on alloy wheels. This is a car that conveys the roadway to your hands, feet, and tailbone to keep you entertained and alert. Members of its youthful market should appreciate it. This is normally where I mention anything that bothered me. Well, it will be a short paragraph, because nothing did.

Pricing starts at $19,950 for the standard RSX with a five speed manual transmission. Add $900 for the five-speed sequential SportShift. The Type-S, available only with the six-speed tranny, tops out at $23,170. The Integra is dead. Long live the RSX!  By Steve Schaefer AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  The Integra is dead. Long live the RSX!
Topic:  2002 Acura RSX
Word Count:   883
Photo Caption:  2002 Acura RSX
Photo Credits:  Acura Media
Series #:   2001 - 41

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2002 Acura RSX

Download the original image file here:  2002 Acura RSX 114k

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Publisher - Editor:   Tony Leopardo
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