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AEM RSX Intake

A how-to article on installing an intake

Keith Buglewicz
Jan 1, 2002

That didn't take long. A mere month after the RSX was unleashed to a slavering public, Advanced Engine Management is already on the scene with a new, better intake system for Acura's radically new K20C four-cylinder engine.

Astute readers will notice the sanded metal finish of the intake system we installed. No, it's not designed to match the metallic trim of the RSX interior. The system we installed and tested is a prototype, but it's the final version, and the one the production piece will be modeled after.

Before you ask, no, this isn't the cold-air system but the short ram; the cold-air intake was still in final testing when we arrived at AEM's Hawthorne, Calif. doorstep with camera in hand. However, both pieces should be available by the time you read this. The final production pieces will be mandrel-bent aluminum, ceramic coated to prevent heat soak and will be available for the standard RSX and Type-S. AEM is also seeking CARB exemption for it, a process that was in the works at press time.

Installation on the RSX Type-S is as straightforward as we'd expect for an intake system. It's slightly disconcerting to lift the hood of the RSX (which, let's face it, we're all mentally calling an Integra) and see the engine on the passenger side. This means the intake manifold is on the front of the engine, so the final installed part has the filter directly in front of the driver. This makes the whole system look like it's in backwards.

At first glance, one might think the system would suck nothing but hot engine air; that's not quite true. The RSX has a peculiar engine compartment, with a large gap between the strut pillars and the firewall. Most likely part of a crumple-inducing crash zone, the gap means plenty of cool air circulates into the engine compartment. Of course, the upcoming cold-air intake--which draws air from immediately behind the driver's side fog light--will have a constant supply of even cooler air, resulting in better on-the-road performance.

Naturally, we tested AEM's new intake, with the actual dyno work done by Darrin SanAngelo at R&Damp; Dyno in Gardena, Calif. Once the RSX was strapped to the Dynojet 248C in its stock configuration, SanAngelo performed three pulls in third gear.

The resulting averages for peak horsepower and torque were 165.8 hp at 8000 rpm and 124.9 hp at 6000 rpm, respectively. The horsepower spread between the three runs was a paltry 1.4 hp, which is about as consistent as one can get. A quick 15-minute procedure later (yes, it's that easy), and the RSX with the AEM intake got a three-run average horsepower and torque peaks of 172.2 hp at 7750 rpm and 128.2 hp at 6750 rpm.

The improvement from stock at 7750 rpm was 7.3 hp. In addition, the AEM intake began making statistically significant power and torque at 3750 rpm and never looked back. Noticeable on the dyno chart was a significant jump in power when the VTEC system switched to the "power" cam. There's always been a bump at that point on any VTEC-enhanced engine, but it's much more pronounced on the RSX than on previous Honda engines.

Installation, as we said, is a snap. The stock intake system takes a rather strange path, drawing air initially from the front of the car, routing it to a huge anti-resonator and filter chamber, then air moves back to the intake at the front of the engine. The AEM system eliminates this path with a simple, direct shot.

However, the lack of sound deadening is instantly noticeable. This intake is loud, folks. Louder than we're used to hearing from the B-series engines. It's a deeper tone too, less brassy than the Integra's intake howl. The kick in of the VTEC is as noticeable to the ear as it is to the dyno. The cold air system will be just as loud, but thanks to its more isolated location, the sound won't be quite as noticeable.

Not surprisingly, AEM has a full line of performance enhancements for the RSX in development. We can't go into detail about those plans just yet, but we can say, like the Integra, the RSX is a very promising performance platform.

Advanced Engine Management Inc.
(310) 484-6322

R&D Dyno Service
(310) 516-1003
By Keith Buglewicz
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