Off the lot, the Acura RSX can lay its competitors out with a 200-hp wallop, edgy styling and a host of creature comforts. But on the street it's all about going beyond stock. We are working with Acura of Mission Viejo on this series of RSX-based project build-up articles. They are providing the car which is on display at the dealership when not in the midst of adding parts and we bolt-on the parts. Being performance inspired, the first mod we made was on the power side of the ledger. We added a Borla cat-back exhaust system to the Acura and netted 12.7 hp at the wheels (see December 2001 Turbo "Dyno Cell").
With the adrenaline gland tickled it was time to address handling and visual appeal. For enhanced canyon carving capabilities we could not run out and pick from a multitude of coil-over systems because the car was so fresh to the aftermarket. Also, some enthusiasts can't afford to run out and buy a crazy adjustable coil-over system. To retain a good amount of OE ride quality yet still get the looks and handling improvements we desired, a set of lowering coils were the best way to go. Eibach is one of the quicker moving spring companies and its R&D department had already designed springs for the RSX. We arranged to have them installed and document what's involved in the process. A big contributor to handling is tire profile. Less profile translates into less sidewall roll-over which means a more efficient contact patch and a more stable suspension. There's less body roll and the car reacts quicker to driver input. A big perk is with a "Plus" conversion you get to customize your ride with new wheels. We jumped to 18-inch status by tag-teaming Tenzo R Mean 6 wheels finished in a rally-look bronze with 215/ZR40-18 rubber from Falken. The RSX is delivered with 205/55R-16s so our jump really slices the profile and the Falken tires also sport a grippier compound and more aggressive tread pattern which further impacts the Acura's g-force resistance. The result is a best of both worlds melding of ride and handling.
For visual appeal Acura of Mission Viejo installed an OE factory body kit and wing. Coming from the factory and dealer installed, the kit's cost and installation can be financed into the purchase price of the vehicle. The kit is delivered pre-painted which speeds installation whether it be bolted on at a dealership or by the owner.
In coming installments of Project RSX we will address braking power, further refine the suspension to improve upon the car's already outstanding handling prowess and add to driving pleasure with an upgraded audio system.
We have outlined the lowering of the front suspension system in the photo spread of this installment. The rear is more or less the same only less complicated because there are no steering components to deal with. It's always wise to have the car re-aligned after this smackdown therapy.