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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Acura RSX Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Acura RSX Overview

One Fun Ride

Sure there are plenty of cars that look like it and claim to perform like it, but when it comes right down to it, the RSX really is in a league of its own. From its lightweight body to its high-reving four-cylinder power plant, the RSX proves an exhilarating rush with every approaching curve.

The RSX is deceptively tall for a sports car, the primary reason so many big American drivers find a welcome home inside the little Acura coupe. The car's designers cleverly placed the RSX's beltline-that is, the line where the side windows meet the car's body-up high and have given it a gradual upward slope that runs from the front windshield pillars back to the rear deck. The roofline then flows onto the large glass rear hatch that tapers down to meet the short deck lid. The overall effect stretches the RSX's green house and gives the car the appearance of being much lower than it actually is; it's a very clever bit of styling.

The RSX is available in two trim levels: base and Type-S. Both models share the same aggressive body with only some minor exterior and interior details to distinguish the two from each other. Base models are powered by a 160-horsepower 2.0-liter engine; Type-S models have an additional 40 horsepower-though you have to get the tachometer needle close to the 7000-rpm mark to feel it. The Type-S also has a 6-speed manual transmission, thicker stabilizer bars, larger disc brakes and a thirst for premium fuel. The RSX Type S is available only with the 6-speed manual. If you want an automatic, you can opt for Acura's 5-speed sequential-shift transmission, but only on the base RSX.

Inside the RSX, you will find an eye-pleasing, driver-oriented cockpit. The speedometer, tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges have all been placed directly within the driver's line-of-sight, as have the ventilation and stereo controls; a satin-silver finish covers the gauge faces and parts of the upper dash. Depending on your size, you may find the front bucket seats to be a bit snug; they feature wide side bolsters designed to hold you firmly in place during spirited driving. The seats perform their job well, but if you have broad shoulders, you may find that the curved upper portion of the sport seat presses against your shoulder blades, making it a bit difficult to get comfortable. Type-S models include some interior upgrades not available on the base car such as perforated leather seating and an Acura/Bose 7-speaker sound system with a 6-disc in-dash CD changer.

On the road the RSX reveals itself to be every enthusiast's dream. Turn the wheel and the car responds so quickly that it seems to already know where you are heading. If you see a sharp curve up ahead you'll likely find yourself accelerating to greet it and delight at how quickly the RSX will take you from 0 to 70 mph and then just as quickly reverse the process. The short throws and accurate gates of the 6-speed transmission require little more than a flick of the wrist to operate. Suffice to say, some things in life must be experienced to fully understand, so do yourself a big favor and take the RSX for a nice, long test drive—and don't spare the throttle.

If after your test drive you still feel there is room for improvement, you can opt for a special factory performance package that can be installed by your dealer. The upgrade includes performance springs and shocks that lower the car by 1 inch, slotted brake rotors and beefed-up brake pads for quicker stops and lightweight 17-inch aluminum wheels surrounded by sticky high-performance tires. Visual enhancements include a factory rear wing, ground effects and metallic interior trim complete with a factory performance shift knob. Though the factory performance addition turns the RSX's handling from precise to razor-sharp, it does not come cheap; MSRP for the kit is $4800—and that does not include the installation cost!

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