Almost every car company has a high performance skunk works. At Acura, it’s called A-Spec. The engineers at A-Spec conjure up custom-fit components to boost the performance of Acura’s sportiest models, and that is just what they have done with the RSX A-Spec, an already hot little number that now has the heat turned up even more.
You might think that it would take a lot of tweaking to make the 2005 Acura RSX A-Spec hotter than the Type-S on which it is based. But Acura engineers hope to entice sports compact enthusiasts with an A-Spec Package that has all the right bits to make this import rocket fly even higher.
The most obvious additions are to exterior aerodynamics, and include a full body kit with a deeper front spoiler, lower side sills, and ground-hugging rear fascia, plus the obligatory rear wing which adds style and reduces rear visibility.
This slick new plastic rides on a set of lightweight 17-inch alloy rims wearing beefy, VR-rated 225/45 Yokohama performance tires.
The A-Spec’s aggressive styling invites a deeper look, where we found competition-grade shocks and springs that lower the RSX by one inch. And they really pay off in handling! The A-Spec feels significantly sharper than a standard Type-S, with less front plow and almost zero body roll. Turn-in is immediate, and the chassis feels light and responsive at all times. The variable-assist power steering is light and quick, but as with most Honda products, a little short on feedback. Still, it’s one very tight, nimble package.
But while the A-Spec darts through the corners with more grip and grace, it didn’t pack more punch. There is no power boost in the A-Spec Package. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder from the Type S is stock. Good thing that this high strung twin-cammer already makes 200 horsepower and 142 pound-feet of torque.
You can buy shift kits for the 6-speed manual gearbox, though we found little room for improvement. It’s light and precise, with short easy throws. And when feeding the engine’s power to the front wheels, delivers a swift 0 to 60 time of 6.9-seconds. The quarter mile takes 15.4 seconds at 94 miles-per-hour. Not surprisingly that’s on par with the Type-S, and with the factory tuned Ford Focus SVT. But don’t challenge a Dodge Neon SRT-4.
Braking is by the standard ABS-equipped 4-wheel discs. Stops from 60 averaged a fine 120 feet, with excellent stability. More than adequate for the street, though A-Specs destined for weekend competition will require an upgrade there as well.
Inside, the A-spec is standard RSX Type-S, adding only some titanium-look trim and an aluminum shift knob to set it apart. Otherwise, it’s the same driver-oriented dash with its large, racy analog gauges, body-hugging sport seats with standard side airbags, and standard Bose 7-speaker audio system with a 6-disc in-dash CD changer. As always, the rear seats are super-coupe tight, with split folding seat backs. When folded flat they increase cargo space from an already large 17.8 cubic-feet.
Now, we doubt that many young RSX buyers are too concerned about cargo space, but what about price? Well, the total RSX A-Spec package carries a price tag of $4,200 plus installation. Just the handling bits are available for $2,300. Add the full package to an RSX Type-S base price of $23,865, and you will pay at least $28,065 before a wrench is turned.
Not counting labor costs, that’s about a grand more than you would pay for similar aftermarket components, but with the A-Spec package you get a precise fit and full Acura factory warranty. And we bet many sports compact enthusiasts will choose to modify a used RSX to hold down the price.
The A-Spec package for the RSX is not cheap, and it screams for a power boost. But properly applied, A-Spec hardware transforms the already sharp RSX Type-S into one of the most enticing and entertaining small rides on the planet.
Engine: 2.0-Liter 4-Cylinder
Torque: 142 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 6.9 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.4 Seconds @ 94 MPH
60-0 MPH: 120 Feet