Do you remember the Acura Integra Type R of the mid-'90s? It was Acura's stripped-down boy-racer and the kids who built the import street drag racing phenomenon adored it; making it one of the most frequently stolen vehicles of that decade. The chassis of the Integra Type R was stiff, the suspension balanced and, if you ran it on a backroad, it would slither over and around the potholes.
Like the Acura Legend and the Integra - the Type R was discontinued and the name relegated to history. Initials like RL, TL, RSX, TSX replaced the monikers of the earlier cars. But when no one was looking the Acura Integra R was given a chin-lift and a smart new fashionable suit of clothes. The witness protection program gave it a new name - Acura RSX Type S. The flashy projector beam headlights have been replaced by a three-pod bulb set-up. The body is slightly taller, wider and heavier, but still svelte.
The dash is now covered in soft black rubber, the door panels are in the latest style and the seats are not only comfortable and supportive, but look smart. The back-seat is still best left to flexible teenagers. This is a big move upmarket from the Integra Type R. The handling of the RSX Type S is sharp and precise. That 8,000 rpm engine still loves to sing an aria, and the shifter can be slotted from gear to gear with single finger taps through the close-ratio six speed box.
The Integra R was a speed demon, the RSX S Type is not, it's heavier, but it's still as smooth as melting butter. The RSX S feels balanced and controlled on every road. Added features mean that the car offers the amenities that will attract adult buyers. Fit and finish along with acceleration, ride, handling and braking are top notch. And the car has something rarely found in Japanese cars - character - a personality, and true driver appeal.
Yes, Getting the kids in and out of their safety seats reminded me of why people with small children do not buy sports coupes very often. The speedometer shows 60 mph in the 9 o'clock position, with 110 mph in the midnight spot. And the six-speed close ratio shift is delightful, but 3,500 rpm at 70 mph does not qualify as overdrive gearing for highway use. The RSX Type S is a fun sports coupe that returns good gas mileage and should rarely need to visit the shop for more than regular servicing.