The Acura TSX is a responsive sports sedan with front-wheel drive. The tip-offs for its sporty demeanor start with the name. Acura calls its sports-specialty vehicles the RSX, TSX, and NSX. Road cars are named CL, TL, RL. The TSX is Acura’s response to the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
Acura TSX is based on the European-market Honda Accord, which is a different car and slightly smaller than the Accord designed for the U.S. market. It’s a superb chassis that’s tight and fun to drive. The 2.4-liter iVTEC four-cylinder engine delivers 200 horsepower and boasts a broad torque curve. This engine is wonderfully tuned and loves to rev.
The result is immediate throttle response followed by a rapid acquisition of speed. That throttle is actually a drive-by-wire accelerator. The six-speed manual gearbox is notably sweet, smooth and quick. The alternative is a five-speed automatic with Sequential Sport Shift. The suspension dances to the tune of a European sports sedan. The brakes scrub off triple-digit speeds without drama and the pedals are set up well for effortless heel-and-toe braking and downshifting. For an enthusiast, the Acura TSX eliminates the lust for European-market cars.
The 2005 Acura TSX model line presents few dilemmas: Simply choose between the six-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed automatic with Sequential Sport Shift. Both models are the same price ($26,990). Then decide whether you want the excellent navigation system ($2,000).
Either way, the front-wheel-drive TSX is powered by the 200-horsepower 2.4-liter double-overhead-cam iVTEC engine and comes with 17-inch alloy wheels with V-rated performance tires. Standard equipment includes perforated leather seating, moonroof, HID headlights, and 360-watt Acura premium audio system with six-disc CD changer and eight speakers. For 2005, XM Satellite Radio hardware is standard, but requires a subscription.
Safety features include Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control and side curtain airbags.
A-Spec ($4,330) adds high-performance shocks and springs, lightweight 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped with Michelin Pilot all-season performance tires, and an aero kit featuring an air dam, chin spoiler, side skirts and a choice of deck lid or wing spoiler. The kit is installed by dealerships. If you want the better handling without the other stuff, you can have the suspension by itself ($800), but you’ll have to give up the nifty A-Spec badges.
Invisible to the eye are aerodynamic undertrays, strategic bellypans that help bring the coefficient of drag down to an impressive 0.27 for the TSX. The backlight (rear window) slopes to meet a short trunk lid, which helps air separate cleanly off the back of the car at speed.
The seven-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels complement the clean lines, and the P215/50R17 tires are low-profile but not radical. Discreet business-like chrome exhaust tips are tucked under the rear fascia at each edge and give the car attitude. Dual exhausts on a four-cylinder are cool.
To get a picture of the scale, the TSX is 183 inches long with a wheelbase of 105 inches; the Acura RSX coupe is 172 inches long with a wheelbase of 101 inches; and the U.S. Honda Accord is 187.6 inches long with a wheelbase of 105 inches.
The Acura TSX interior feels graceful. Satin-finish or simulated wood trim wraps from door to door, across the center console and steering wheel.
The driver’s eight-way power seat offers good bolstering for comfort and hard driving. The seat fits great and there’s good legroom. The rubber-coated pedals feel good, and there’s a solid dead pedal. The 8000-rpm tach is as big as the 160-mph speedo, because the TSX is all about using the tach. The bright red needles give it just the right neon touch. There’s a tidy three-spoke steering wheel, wrapped skin-tight in perforated leather, just small enough. The shift knob is right, blending function and style with leather and polished aluminum, without compromising the function. You’ve got the E-brake lever at your side, a nice deep console bin, your cupholders and changeholder right there. A fingertip away is a 360-watt sound system with a six-CD player. You’ve got a moon roof, you even have heated seats and heated outside mirrors.
Navigation systems are getting better every year and Acura’s may be the best. It’s easy to program, and gives clear, accurate instructions visibly and audibly. The display is big and crisp. The system uses a combination of hard buttons and context-sensitive on-screen menus. Unfortunately, you have to call up a menu just to switch radio stations, but fortunately, controls on the steering wheel let you bypass this task. The system also takes voice commands. Cool blue ambient lighting illuminates the console controls at night.