We've taken a few shots of the 2002 RSX Type-S and compared them to the revised 2005 RSX Type-S. Based on these photos and the underlying changes to the RSX, here are some of our impressions on what the new model offers and if we think they're worth it on paper.
By far, the most noticeable changes to the 2005 RSX are to the exterior. It gives us sleeker, more aggressive headlamps and tail lamps, more aggressive front and rear fascias, new wheel designs, and a classier exhaust finisher. The side skirts sport a new contour for the base model while also being body colored. The Type-S gets updated side skirts as well in addition to a low profile rear spoiler. The big change to the Type-S exterior comes in the way of larger wheels (17x7" vs. 16x6.5") and meatier rubber (215/45-17 vs. 205/55-16), the same size as the Type-R. So what do we think?
The headlights and front fascia treatment bear a strong resemblance to the departed CL. The chiseled front fascia make the RSX look stronger than the soft lines of the earlier model. It's finally beginning to look more like a proper sport coupe. Another improvement to the front is the removal of the weird rubbery foglight section covering material. Honda has replaced it with the horizontal black plastic splitter to match what spans the front grille. Swinging around to the tail, the all-red taillights don't have the BMW-esque circular cutouts below them anymore. It looks cleaner, but they could do without the bubble texture for each circle in the taillight. Also, the contrasting plastic strip in the lower bumper section could seem out of place on some body colors, but to each his own. The Type-S spoiler (as well as the other refined aero bits) is said to improve aerodynamics, but looks a bit tacked-on. We'll have to see one in person before passing final judgment.
The powertrain gets quite a few enhancements as well. The engine code for the Type-S is K20Z1, which is a new code. That means it's not the same K20A2 it had, but it's not the K20A from the Type-R. However, we think it's essentially the Type-R engine, no matter what the engine code. The K20Z1 engine upgrades the K20A2 parts by changing to the Type-R intake and exhaust camshafts, Type-R intake manifold, and Type-R throttle body. About the only thing we don't get are the higher compression pistons that raise the pressure from 11.0:1 to 11.5:1. We also don't get the orgasmic 8500RPM redline (we must make do with 8100RPM), which is a downer. Since we haven't test driven the vehicle yet, we don't know what the fuel cutoff is, but in typical Honda fashion, it's probably about 8300RPM. We'll also gamble that the valve springs are Type-R spec, which means a Hondata flash to increase the rev limiter should be worry-free. We do know that the VTEC crossover point is the same as it has been at 5800RPM. Combine all of the above with a high-flow catalytic converter and higher flow exhaust and we may be looking at a bit more than a 10HP increase. If Honda stepped up to the plate with their ECU tuning, hopefully the midrange flatspot from the previous Type-S is gone. This will be the first thing we check when we get the '05 on a dyno.
The shorter Type-R final drive is a welcomed improvement to put power to the ground with more verve, but I think it is going to increase the need for a limited slip differential (LSD). What's the problem, Honda? I cannot imagine a few suspension tweaks eliminating the need for this critical component in a sporting high horsepower FWD vehicle. The +1" wheel adjustment certainly isn't going to remove the need. If Dodge saw the light in the SRT-4's second production year, I'm amazed Honda hasn't stepped up to the plate.
Copyright 2004 Temple of VTEC