Just Driven:2005 Acura RSX - SIf Acura had asked us how it should update the RSX, we'd have told them to send us the 220-hp Type R and change the name back to Integra. But Acura apparently had ideas of its own and is releasing a significantly tweaked and more powerful RSX for 2005.
The most apparent external changes are new 17-inch wheels, a revised front fascia with what Acura calls a "more dynamic look," new side skirts, a rear spoiler for the first time, new headlights, new multi-element taillights, and a suspension that drops the car a full 7mm closer to the planet. Imagine ... 7mm ... that's more than a quarter inch! If you look real close you might also notice the exhaust system has a tip.
Inside, Acura has revised the instrumentation a bit, changed the textures on many surfaces, and on the Type-S included a titanium shift knob and chrome handbrake end. The most impressive change is a new set of seats that look almost like aftermarket pieces. The thicker side bolsters, however, still don't get the job done during rip-and-burn driving maneuvers.
Thanks to new camshafts with longer durations, a revised intake tract that Acura claims flows five percent better and an exhaust system with 10 percent less backpressure due to a redesign and high-flow catalytic converter, the 2.0-liter i-VTEC K-series engine now makes an additional 10 hp in the Type-S, for a total of 210. The 143 lb-ft of peak torque claimed for the 2005 RSX Type-S is a measly 1 lb-ft more than before and it occurs at a ripping 7000 rpm-up from 6000 rpm. However, according to the charts supplied by Acura, the torque curve is such that there's still about 142 lb-ft available at 6000 rpm. Twisting force production stays nearly flat from there to about 7500, which makes for slightly better acceleration at those engine speeds.
While the gear ratios in the Type-S six-speed manual transmission remain unchanged, the final drive ratio drops from 4.388:1 to 4.764:1, claims Acura, further improving acceleration.
Along with the power boost comes the previously mentioned lower suspension, front spring rates stiffened by 10 percent, revised camber angles front and rear, and a series of steering revisions including a stiffer column and reduced internal friction. The braking system was modified with a new, stiffer pedal bracket, stronger boost from the master cylinder and a slightly decreased pedal ratio. Naturally, a good chunk of the improved responsiveness in both handling and braking is due to the new 17-inch tires, which are probably the car's biggest improvement.
None of these changes do anything to reverse the laws of physics, but the new RSX Type-S is better than before. The initial turn-in is quicker diving into corners, the whole car feels more tenacious, and the shorter gearing does provide a tick more mid-range oomph.
But enough with these half measures: the JDM Integra Type-R is what we want. It's what we deserve. It's what we need. And we won't stop whining about it until it gets here.
Shelby GR-1Ford's GT supercar has just gone into production, but it's already doomed. After a couple of years and a couple thousand examples, Ford will shut down the line and move on to something else. The big question is what that something else will be.
At the Monterey Historic Races in August, Ford dropped its latest hint at what that might be in the form of the Shelby GR-1. Based on the front-engine, V10-powered chassis as last year's less-than-compelling Cobra concept, the GR-1 looks something like Pete Brock's design for the original 1964 Cobra Daytona Coupe without being a slavish copy (as the GT pretty much is of the mid-'60s GT40).
"The Ford Shelby Cobra concept was a small step in our plans for the Ford GT supercar architecture and our relationship with Carroll Shelby," says J Mays, Ford's design chief. "And the Ford Shelby GR-1 is a giant leap toward the future." That's right, even though the GR-1 has a V10 in front, it shares much of its fundamental engineering with the GT, which has its supercharged V8 mounted midship. Most of the suspension components, the basic structural concepts, and the rear-mounted six-speed manual transaxle are common to both cars (and the failed Cobra Concept).
Displacing 6.4 liters, the V10 under that hood wears DOHC heads carrying 40 valves and makes a supposed 605 hp. Some additional tweaking and tuning could, sources report, see that number swell up to something like 700 hp when (if) the GR-1 goes into regular production.
Team RTR And SCC Earn Some Scars and WinWith three races run within a month, mid-July to mid-August is the heart of the Speed World Challenge Touring Car season. And it was three races of alternating triumphs and frustrations for the Sport Compact Car-sponsored Team RTR Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V.
The stretch started at Portland International Raceway, where the track's long turns don't favor front-drive cars like the Sentra. Driver and team owner P.D. Cunningham wasn't surprised, but was still disappointed by the Sentra's qualifying efforts that put it 11th on the starting grid. And hopes for the race were still high since the rear-drive BMWs that had been dominant for the previous few races had been saddled with an additional 100 pounds of base weight and had some engine speed knocked off their rev limiters.
During the race everything went right for the Sentra, and Cunningham slashed his way to fourth behind the RealTime Racing Acura TSXs of Pierre Kleinubing and Matt Plumb in first and second and Bob Stretch's BMW 325Ci in third. Ultimatly it was a productive weekend that indicated the growing speed of the Sentra as it proceeds through its constant development.
Two weeks later at Mosport, on a track far friendlier to the Sentra, Cunningham set an absolute average speed mark for the series when he qualified for the pole with a lap at 98.702 mph, beating the mark he set in 2003 in the Sentra at Road America. The team was more than optimistic going into the race.
Unfortunately the race itself was frustrating, as just 50 yards from the standing start the front-row cars of Cunningham and Kleinubing were pinballed by the charging BMW of James Clay, who had qualified third. Kleinubing was knocked out of the race altogether and a trip to the pits to try and whack the Sentra's alignment back cost Cunningham three laps. The result was a 23rd-place finish for Team RTR.
"We got the alignment fixed pretty well," reports Cunningham. "We ran within 9/10 of the fast lap of the race, albeit three laps down. It was unfortunate for everybody."
Another two weeks later and the Touring Car circus had moved to Road America in Wisconsin. Essentially Cunningham's home track and a track very favorable to front-drive cars, the Sentra qualified from the pole and had Kleinubing's Acura lined up alongside him once again. In fact Cunningham's qualifying speed of 99.510 mph again set a new absolute average speed record for a World Challenge Touring Car.
"I was leading going into Turn Eight," Cunningham says of the Road America race's first lap. "But I locked up the rear brakes and did a half spin, so Kleinubing and the third-place car both passed me. A couple of laps later I passed back into second but Kleinubing had a 6-second lead by then."
Cunningham was gaining on Kleinubing with every passing lap, but there just weren't enough laps and the Sentra finished behind the TSX.
The post-race inspection wasn't kind to the RealTime Racing team . "Following the event," the World Challenge Web site (www.world-challenge.com) reported, "technical inspections revealed noncompliant modifications to the Acura's cylinder head and intake. Kleinubing's car was subsequently disqualified from the event."
RealTime ultimately decided not to pursue a protest, taking the responsibility for mistakenly applying modifications to the TSX that are legal for some other cars in the series. Since Cunningham also owns the RealTime team, he was both hurt by the decision and benefited from it. "Let's just say that it inspired a range of emotions," said Cunningham.
Rumors&Lies* Hummer is now selling a cologne for men called Hummer Fragrance For Men. Any joke we'd write here about men and hummers would be excised immediately anyhow.
* British carmaker TVR has been sold to a 24-year-old Russian millionaire named Nikolai Smolenski.
* The big-screen version of "The Dukes of Hazzard" finally has a director. He's Jay Chandrasekhar, who previously helmed the transcendent "Broken Lizard's Super Troopers" in 2001 and the emotionally complex "Broken Lizard's Club Dread" this year.
* What are the chances of "The Dukes of Hazzard" movie sucking? About 97.2 percent.
* Saturn will replace its disappointing L-Series mid-size cars with versions of the upcoming Pontiac G6 sometime around 2006, according to "The Detroit News."
* According to a report in "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," in August DeKalb County police posed as amateur filmmakers at an illegal street race that attracted more than 500 spectators and videotaped races at more than 100 mph in the parking lot of Moreland Plaza. Around midnight, the DeKalb cops and Georgia State Patrol began arresting drivers and towing cars. A total of 29 people were arrested and 34 cars were towed. Most of those arrested were charged with reckless driving. Last year, according to the newspaper, six people died while participating in illegal street races in Cobb and Gwinnett counties.
Cobalt On SaltLast summer GM took a Saturn ION to Bonneville in order to break the G/Blown Fuel Altered record and succeeded by running a thrilling and certified 212.684 mph. This year GM decided to return to the salt to break the same record with a new Chevrolet Cobalt running basically the same drivetrain as last year's ION.
The problem for GM is that the old-timers who run the Southern California Timing Association are never eager to aid the OEMs in accumulating records and decided that, because the Cobalt SS wasn't yet on sale in August, the GM team (run by the So-Cal Speed Shop) couldn't run for a record. But with sport compact drag racer Nelson Hoyos behind the wheel, they ran an absolutely staggering, astonishing, mind-blowing 243.127 mph. That's despite the fact that the 2.0-liter, turbocharged, Ecotec engine was detuned from its 1,200-hp drag racing configuration to just about 850 hp.
The general consensus of the sunburned and blistered crowd at Bonneville was, it seemed, that with some tuning and tweaking, the Cobalt is easily a 250-mph car and has the potential to run as much as 290 mph. On the far edge some see this car going 300 mph if all the stars align correctly and a few laws of physics are twisted slightly.
When the Cobalt returns to Utah in October there will be enough production Cobalts in dealers and civilian hands that the SCTA won't be able to deny them a record.
Meanwhile the Ecotec power package also found its way into Ron Main's streamliner that, until now, had been running an ancient Ford Flathead V8 as the "Flatfire." Now with the Ecotec aboard it's been renamed "EcoFire" and it reset the G/BFS (Blown Fuel Streamliner) record with a daunting 309.607-mph run. And yet another Ecotec installed in a '34 Ford Roadster built by Todd Haas went 193.231 mph to set a new record in F/BFMR (Blown Fuel Modified Roadster).
At this rate the Ecotec will power every car at Bonneville next year. And that's probably just what the SCTA fears.
Web sideWe need Web sites. You know of some Web sites. You tell us what those Web sites are. We put them here. It's all so simple. But nothing happens until you send us an e-mail at SCCNews@Primedia.com.
Datsuns dot Comwww.datsuns.comNo one wrote to us about this Web site, but it's one of the best sites on the Web for those addicted to old Datsuns. It has a solid tech section, a substantial historical archive (though hardly comprehensive) and the project cars featured are all old-school cool. They even have a humor section that, well, is sort of funny. For those of you who are too young, Datsun is what Nissan used to call itself. For those of you who are too old, Nissan is what Datsun calls itself now.