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2004 Acura TSX
Yes, for U.S. Sale: The U.S.-spec Acura TSX is not only as tight as the European and Japanese versions, it’s tighter


By MARK VAUGHN


THE GRASS IS ALWAYS greener on the other side of the Armco.

We in North America sit here and look longingly at car magazines from Europe and Japan and see the cars those guys over there get, then we look at the bloated, floaty things foisted on us here and think, “Dang! How come they get all the good stuff? How come they get the lower, tighter suspensions and the higher-revving engines and the cool taillights and the nine-foot-tall skinny girlfriends with big pouty lips from the Piz Buin suntan ads while we here have, what, Oldsmobiles? It ain’t right, dang it, it just ain’t right!”


2004 ACURA TSX
ON SALE: April
BASE PRICE: $25,000 (mfr.)
POWERTRAIN: 2.4-liter, 200-hp, 166-lb-ft I4; fwd, six-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 3230 pounds
0-60 MPH: 7.0 seconds (est.)



Well, Honda/Acura heard our pitiable cries and has taken mercy upon us. You know that European and Japanese Accord, the one smaller and sprightlier than the Accord we get here?

Well, it’s coming to the United States, fully federalized and ready for buyin’ as an Acura TSX.

Now let’s not blow it, fellow enthusiasts. If we don’t get out there and buy up 15,000 TSXs a year, then the Honda/Acura guys, as well as any other manufacturer thinking of doing anything similar, are going to say, “See? They don’t want anything with real performance. They’re not willing to compromise a little on size and maybe even a smidgen on ride comfort in order to achieve a higher level of handling. So no more! Only big, fat, floaty cars for them from now on!”

So you get the idea how important this new car is.

Yes, the new car. Here’s the scoop: There are really three different Accord platforms floating around on the world market. The Honda Global Midsize Platform, as it’s called, comes in narrow, medium and large. The European and Japanese Accord comes on the narrow platform. Our larger Accord comes on the medium platform. And the large is for the Acura TL.

So the TSX may be a little smaller than Accord buyers are used to, but make accommodation for it, please.

Engines also get traded around globally. The 2.4-liter i-VTEC four in the TSX is based on the 2.4 found in the U.S. and European four-cylinder Accord, the CR-V and the RSX Type-S. Of those, it most closely resembles the powerplant in the RSX Type-S, which is good.

Chief powertrain engineer Sakuji Arai listed the two most important qualities of the 2.4-liter engine for the TSX: “High rpm and high torque,” he said. “Especially the torque up until 4000 rpm.”

We’re in favor of both of those, even if they seem a little incompatible.

The 2.4 reaches its torque peak of 166 lb-ft at 4500 rpm, so you still have to wait a while to get moving, but once there, things really go. The i-VTEC system on the TSX first appeared on the 2.0-liter RSX Type-S. The i stands for intelligence, which adds variable timing control on the intake valves to VTEC’s variable valve timing and lift electronic control on both intake and exhaust valves.

The idea is that with all those variables, the engine can accommodate a larger set of demands. It can be both torquey and powerful. Indeed, peak horsepower is 200 at 6800 rpm with redline at 7100. That’s more power and torque than any four-cylinder Accord in any market in the world.

To further access low-end torque the Euro five-speed manual wouldn’t do. So the standard TSX transmission is a six-speed manual with lower ratios in first, second and third.

“It’s a very aggressive, low-gear setup,” said Arai.

Multi-cone synchronizers on all gears make shifts smooth and quick. With a curb weight starting at 3230 pounds for a six-speed manual version, 0-to-60 drag strip runs at or under seven seconds seem possible. A five-speed automatic with Honda’s Sequential SportShift is also available.

Handling is as good as performance. While we in America are used to getting softer suspensions than they get in overseas markets, the springs and gas-filled shocks on the TSX’s four-wheel double-wishbone suspension are actually 5 percent stiffer front and rear than the European and Japanese Accords. And we get 215/50 Michelins mounted on 17-inch wheels while the other world markets get 16-inchers.

“To provide a solid driving feel,” said suspension engineer Tsuto Sasaki. The bushings and front and rear antiroll bars are “just a little bit” softer to compensate for rough roads.

It all works wonderfully, of course. We spent an hour driving a six-speed manual in the Malibu hills and had a great time. Weight distribution is a not-too-terrible 60/40 front/rear, which sounds like it would make the nose drag along the ground and the front end understeer all over the place, but we didn’t feel anything of the sort. We couldn’t hang the tail out, but the TSX felt tight and responsive nonetheless, going where it was pointed and rolling very little doing it. (Imagine this body with front-engine and rear-wheel drive. If Mazda can bring back the British sports car with the Miata, isn’t it time somebody brought back the Italian sports sedan with Honda reliability? Just a thought.)

On top of all that sits a very Acuraesque body, right down to the “bone line” splitting the front hood. Apart from badging, bumper fascias and grille, the TSX body is a carbon copy of the European and Japanese Accord, sharing every panel of sheetmetal. To make it, Acura used aerodynamic knowledge gained from the Insight, including aerodynamic undertray plates, for a coefficient of drag of 0.27, the most slippery Honda sedan ever made and one of the lowest production-car Cds ever. And while there is some lift at high speeds, “compared to all models from the past it is much smaller than before,” said Sasaki.

The TSX will slot between the RSX and the CL/TL in the Acura lineup. Acura says competition for the TSX will come from “premium sports sedans from Europe and Japan,” namely the Lexus IS 300, BMW 325, Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4, Volvo S40, WV Jetta and Passat, and the Nissan Altima. Altima and Jetta, sure, the TSX will give those a run for their lease agreements. But Acura’s been smoking crankcase oil if it thinks a front-driver, even one as well-engineered as this one, will compete against 325s and IS 300s; it won’t. Not in performance. In price, sure. Prices will be announced closer to the TSX’s April launch, but will be somewhere between $25,000 and $30,000. If you forgo the voice-activated navigation system and the automatic transmission, you can probably come in on the lower end of that range and have a mighty fun car.

You must do it. It’s your duty as a car enthusiast. Acura’s goal is only 15,000 TSXs a year.

Let’s all do our part to convince carmakers we like small, inexpensive cars that handle well. Can we count on you?



here's the link:
 

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SoyBoy
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140 Posts
Great review!
:) But doesn't the IS300(2002) do a 0-60 in about seven seconds as well? I ask because I'm not 100% sure. I love the IS300. But isn't that somewhat slow for an I6(stock)? My point is
the IS300 and TSX can compete performance wise even though the IS300 is an overall nicer car. Otherwise good article. Lots of info.
But Acura’s been smoking crankcase oil if it thinks a front-driver, even one as well-engineered as this one, will compete against 325s and IS 300s; it won’t. Not in performance.
 

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GT40 enthusiast
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163 Posts
Yeah I like the IS too...but what do you think is the better the IS300's engine or the TSX's????
 

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96 Posts
the is300 is a good car i drove one but i like my car to be a little stifer it just feels more comftable for me and i think the TSX will be just perfect :cool:
 
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Discussion Starter #8
insurance and milage

I have heard through folks that the insurance cost for an IS300 is pretty steep. Also the same folks state that they are only getting 17mpg here in the DFW area for milage. No thanks. My 4Runner nearly puts up the same milage figures as the IS! My 03 Accord has been getting around 28 and it has the 2.4A. The insurance is also not too bad for an Accord. The interior of the IS seemed below par for a 30K vehicle. It all looked awesome but it just didn't connect with me. If you want an I-6 engine for the extra torque then visit the BMW dealer for a 325 for about 30K instead of the IS. They even pay for your service for the first 3 years! If the TSX comes in at 25K then there will be no comparison though for allot of folks.
 

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SoyBoy
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140 Posts
For the many people that drive bimmers and lexuses, their pockets are a bit deeper than most and don't mind paying the extra cheese for insurance and gas. They drive their cars mostly for status. But if you can find a better car for the same price why buy the bimmer or lex. If I had that much money I'd consider a G35 sports coupe or a WRX STi. Those cars run around the same prices but are much nicer because you don't see as many on the road. Back to reality though the 03Accords and TSXs are very practical, reliable, and cheaper which make them a perfect fit for me. Besides the last two will have a lot of aftermarket products and have the potential for plenty of tuning capabilities.
4Runners and 03 Accords:D
 
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