The 2003 Acura RSX hatchback is a refined and comfortable car that combines daily use utility and weekend warrior driving fun. It may not be a class leader for power, handling, or luxury, but it offers a nice combination of those attributes along with a fine level of safety. The Type-S trim is the performer in the line-up and offers even more driving excitement, as Acura intends the RSX to be a ?race-bred? hatchback. The RSX is a good choice for hatchback drivers wanting a little fun along with a higher level of safety and the utility of a hatchback that seats four.
Body styles: hatchback
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic
Models: Acura RSX, Acura RSX Type-S
For 2003, the RSX gets a new color, Redondo Red Pearl. Also new is a dealer installed option group called the Factory Performance package, which adds high-performance suspension components, better brakes, larger wheels and tires, and a body kit.
The 2003 Acura RSX hatchback is available in two trims: base and the performance-oriented Type-S. The base model comes standard with a fair amount of gear, including 16-inch alloy wheels, intermittent wipers, rear wipers, rear defroster, power glass sunroof, power door mirrors, and four-wheel independent suspension. The Type-S trim is similarly equipped on the exterior. Stand-alone options available for both trims include a spoiler, front fog lights, and an engine block heater.
The RSX’s exterior has a curvy profile with a grille that resembles other Acura models. Large multi-reflector headlights and a beveled chin spoiler finish out the front-end. With chiseled accent lines, the body features short rear and front overhangs. Compound-curved window glass in conjunction with thin A- and B-pillars improves visibility. The RSX has a 101.2-inch wheelbase and 172.2 inches long overall measurement.
The cabin of the RSX is also filled with standard features. The base trim starts off with cloth seats, power door locks, power windows, speed-sensing power steering, speed control with steering wheel mounted controls, tilt steering wheel, interior air filtration, climate control, alloy and leather trim on shift knob, leather trim on the steering wheel, and a six-speaker audio system with AM/FM and in-dash cd player. The Type–S trim adds a cassette player, premium Bose audio system, and leather upholstery. The leather upholstery is an option for the base trim.
The RSX’s cabin is comfortable and well laid out. It seats only four and offers 17.8 cubic feet of cargo space. The headroom and legroom are sufficient and while the interior isn’t posh, there is some luxury to be had, especially in the Type-S. Build and material quality is solid with cheap looking or feeling components used.
Performance & Handling
A two-liter, 16-valve, i-VTEC four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower and 141 lb-ft of torque powers the base RSX. The Type-S gets a stronger four-cylinder that produces 200 horsepower and 142 lb-ft of torque and requires premium fuel. The base RSX uses a five-speed manual transmission as standard equipment. An optional five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic unit incorporates Grade Logic Control, a feature that holds the proper gear and decreases unnecessary shifting on steep grades. A close-ratio six-speed-manual gearbox is the only available gearbox for the Type-S coupe. The RSX is front-wheel drive only. Performance is enough to handle traffic situations and offer a bit of driving fun. Low-end torque is lacking, so performance off the line suffers some.
The RSX’s handling is impressive, even on the base model. Steering is tight, precise, and well-weighted. The RSX uses variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering. The body lean is minimal and the grip is assured. Beware of torque steer in the Type-S. It has some power and front-wheel drive. Braking is good in the base and really good for the Type-S. The firm and athletic ride is never harsh or punishing. While the engine is sounds refined, there is wind noise at highway speeds and constant tire noise. These sounds can make the RSX a bit trying during long trips.
The RSX has standard safety equipment that includes all-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, dual front-impact airbags, side-impact airbags, occupant-position and height sensors for the front passenger, front seat belt pretensioners and a LATCH system for child-safety seats. In NHTSA testing the RSX earned five out of five stars for driver and passenger protection and four stars in all other tests. The IIHS has not conducted crash safety tests with the RSX.
EPA Fuel Economy
Acura RSX: 24/30 mpg city/highway
Acura RSX Type-S: 21/28 mpg city/highway
- Type-S engine
- Extensive standard equipment
- Nimble handling
You Won't Like
- Rear-seat headroom
- Lack of low-end torque
Dual-purpose hatchback can be daily driver or fun for a weekend of cruising.
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