Preview - 2004 Acura TSX.

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Mar 14, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Acura joins the hunt for BMW and discovers the spirit of the old Nissan Maxima.

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    BY DANIEL PUND

    The one consistent truism in the modern car business is this: To say unkind things about the BMW 3-series is to reveal yourself as an infidel or idiot. Possibly both.

    So pervasive is the acceptance of 3-series superiority in sports sedans that seemingly not a month passes when some carmaker isn't selling us on its new 3-series copy. Imitation remains the sincerest form of flattery. Many are good cars, some are good enough to make our 10Best list, but none beats the 3-series at its own game.

    So imagine Acura's predicament. Not only is the TSX, on sale this April, the first time the Honda subsidiary has admitted to going directly after BMW, but, well, it's not a very good copy, is it? Look at it. Its pointed nose protrudes more than the fashionable few inches beyond the leading edge of the front wheels. It has driveshafts in the front, but none driving the rear wheels. And in its haste, Acura has forgotten to add the fifth and sixth cylinders to the engine.

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    All of this must be very embarrassing for the company, which is typically known for its quick-wittedness. Surely, Acura is not so daft as to believe it could fool car enthusiasts with some tarted-up front-drive, four-cylinder family sedan.

    Well, yes, it is. The TSX is, in fact, a European- and Japanese-market Honda Accord, modified for North American sale with more power, more standard equipment, a dose of new marketing, and an "Acura TSX" badge.

    This makes it an utter failure as a tool of 3-series worship and yet something altogether more interesting than another copy. In its hunt for the 3-series, Acura has inadvertently conjured up the spirit of the old Nissan Maxima. Here we refer to the '89 through '94 models to which Nissan affixed "4DSC" stickers (for "four-door sports car"), not the softer, larger cars that followed. The TSX is the car for those who need space, want fun, and haven't the money for an impressive badge.

    The TSX has a shorter wheelbase (by almost three inches) and overall length (by about six inches) and is narrower (by about two inches) than the U.S. Accord.

    The suspension setup, with dual control arms up front and a five-link independent rear, is the same basic configuration that underpins the Accord in this country. The TSX's suspension, though, is tuned considerably stiffer with a larger rear anti-roll bar than on the U.S. Accord. The Acura rides on standard 17-inch wheels carrying 215/50 all-season performance Michelins. The result is a surprisingly agile car. Even at more than 3200 pounds (about 120 heavier than a four-cylinder Accord EX), the TSX feels light on its feet in a way that will be familiar to Honda owners. German sports sedans, by comparison, tend to feel stout—even heavy—over the road.

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    The TSX has far better body control than does an American Accord. There's a bit more body roll than expected, though, so it's not exactly in BMW territory. But it leans in a controlled and progressive manner that doesn't really inhibit hard driving. Midcorner bumps and hillocks upset the car almost not at all. This inspires confidence—perhaps a bit more than the tires are prepared for. We applaud Acura for using a decent-size tire, but we'd like more aggressive tires than these.

    Despite its general handiness, the TSX can conceal its front-drive nature for only so long. Drive really hard, and the 3-series posing fades quicker than the front tires' grip on the pavement. The quick-ratio steering is light, accurate, and nearly immune to kickback, but its numbness doesn't warn the driver that those tires are about to give up the fight. Driven as if you were the guy making the payments, the TSX is plenty satisfying. Acura tried to reduce the weight up front, including using a lightweight magnesium manual transaxle case, but, like an American Accord, the TSX carries 60 percent of its weight over the front axle.

    The engine is a version of the DOHC 2.4-liter four-cylinder also used in the American Accord. Thanks to a higher compression ratio (10.5 versus 9.7), tuned-length intake runners, a freer-flowing exhaust, and variable valve timing and lift control on both intake and exhaust cams, the TSX makes 200 hp at 6800 rpm (40 hp more than the Honda). Lest you think a power peak that high in the rev range would render the TSX weak-kneed around town, be aware that that engine makes a credible 166 pound-feet of torque, which is delivered in a hiccup-free, linear fashion. As long as you keep the crankshaft spinning at more than 3000 times per minute, there's plenty of squirt. And lest you think a big-displacement four-cylinder sounds rough, remember that this is a Honda—the undisputed champ of four-bangers. Thanks in part to twin balance shafts, the engine is smooth from idle to redline.

    Nestled in a supportive, well-bolstered seat, you ease to a halt in utter peace. There's no engine vibration through the steering wheel. No gear whine. Nothing. This car may conjure front-drive performance cars of the past, but it is executed at a level of refinement unattainable 10 years ago. In the transformation from mass-market Accord to 15,000-sales-per-year TSX, Acura has wisely focused much of its attention on the interior. Every element has the look and feel of precision.

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    Take the pedals. All three of them on our six-speed-manual primary tester had remarkably short travel, and each felt perfectly linear in operation. These are the sorts of unnoticed but predictable and reassuring interfaces that make for a satisfying performance car. The precision of the manual shifter would make a surgical instrument jealous.

    As is Acura's way, the TSX comes loaded, including a high-end sound system, leather, stability control, heated seats, and the full complement of inflatable bags. Options include a voice-activated version of Acura's navigation system and a five-speed automatic transmission. The five-speed is a fine tranny with a responsive manumatic feature, but its shifts are too soft for a sporting sedan. And equipping the TSX with an automatic, as Acura anticipates two-thirds of its buyers will, makes it too pedestrian. After all, the Honda store up the street offers a 240-hp V-6 Accord with an automatic for less money.

    Acura hasn't set prices yet, but figure about $26,000 for a base manual and perhaps $29,000 for an auto version with navigation. This puts the TSX in strange territory. It's more expensive than V-6 versions of the Accord and Mazda 6, cheaper than the Euros and their Japanese imitators as well as the big and powerful new Maxima. It is a narrow, fervent slice of the buying public that will choose the TSX.

    So forget all the BMW-fighter stuff and be thankful for the return of this particularly satisfying brand of Japanese sports sedan.

    Like we said: an utter failure at being a BMW copy.

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    Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
    Estimated base price: $26,000
    Engines: DOHC 16-valve 4-in-line, aluminum block and head, Honda PGM-FI engine-control system with port fuel injection
    Displacement: 144 cu in, 2354cc
    Power (SAE net): 200 bhp @ 6800 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 166 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm

    Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 5-speed automatic with lockup torque converter
    Wheelbase: 105.1 in
    Length: 183.3 in
    Width: 69.4 in
    Height: 57.3 in
    Curb weight: 3250-3350 lb

    C/D-estimated performance (6-sp):
    Zero to 60 mph: 6.6 sec
    Standing 1/4-mile: 15.5 sec @ 90 mph

    Projected fuel economy:
    EPA city driving: 21-22 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 29-31 mpg

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  2. taco

    taco Guest

    it's front wheel drive. that kind of disqualifies me from ever considering it.
     
  3. tun

    tun Active Member

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    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
     
  4. Urinal Mint

    Urinal Mint bourbon afficionado

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    It'll sell like hotcakes to people who refuse to "step down" to Honda, but can't afford the TL.
     
  5. outsidah

    outsidah Hrmmm OT Supporter

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    A TL is what though? $29K or $32K for a Type-S?

    I dont see too much of a $$ diff... nice car though... rather have a CL Type-S though.... looks go to this car though....
     
  6. VBGOD

    VBGOD Guest

    15.5 sec @ 90 mph

    :o Ouch..
     
  7. VBGOD

    VBGOD Guest

    How is that a 3-series knock off? FWD + high strung 4 banger != RWD + comfortable power.

    EDIT: Yet another thread killed. LOL
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2003
  8. IEATPUPPIES

    IEATPUPPIES Guest

    I like it. FOr the person who is looking to buy and own a single car for a while and commute alot it is a nice car with great looks, decent power and nice handleing.

    bassically its for people who now buy civics for what the civic is good at, but have more money and can afford basically a high end civic.

    shit, id bump one for a DD or commuter car and count on owning it for tons of years and that way I could justify and afford to have a crazy ass hillbilly hotrod in the garage for the weekends and the strip :bigok:

    15.5 1/4mile is fine for a daily driver, thats prolly faster than what a 325i would run with an auto.
     
  9. BrianG

    BrianG Guest

    The specs are very similar to the SVT Contour: 200hp @ 6,600rpm , 169lb.ft @ 5,500, 15.6 1/4mi. And the Honda does it w/ two less cylinders and one of the nicest interiors in a 25k car. Mmmm, it would be very tempting if I didn't already have the SVT...
     
  10. mayorbill11

    mayorbill11 Guest

    they sell an acura civic here in canadia, it's called the 1.7 EL.

    previous gen was called the 1.6 EL, guess they call it the 1.7 now to look better than the civic, even though they share the same engine.
     
  11. bioyuki

    bioyuki Ich habe Angst

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    It'll sell well.

    Seriously guys, don't bother with those prices, Acuras are known for selling way below MSRP. I got my car for 29.5k and thats a lot for it. I know people who got it for 29 flat or even 28 high.
     
  12. mucky

    mucky .

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    TL will be all new for 2004 and will bump up in the luxury features and slightly in price.

    TSX will cover $25-30k and focus on value, fun-to-drive and European handling, where the TL will cover $30-35k and focus on more luxury, higher hp, and sporty handling and larger size.

    Expect to hear news about the new TL late this spring or mid summer.
     
  13. skunkboy

    skunkboy the search continues for oaktownnigga

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    pretty harsh artice. but i have no doubt its telling the truth. they should have at least put a v6 in that monstrosity
     
  14. Xicculus

    Xicculus OT Supporter

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    It cracks me up to see people buy that car, it's like a Civic for Yuppies!
     
  15. F=ma

    F=ma Guest

    In the articles I've read its said that Honda is targeting late 20's early 30's professionals, ready for their first luxury car, but don't want to spend 30 close to 40 for it.

    And I don't think Honda was in any haste designing this car, its been out for several years on European and Japanese shores. :uh:

    The Accord Euro-R is what the Accord Euro-R is. Its not a BMW copy, its not an anything copy. Its a front wheel drive, decent handling (double wishbone), fairly well equipped, sporty four door.

    Besides if you price a 325i adding all the options the TSX has standard. The 3-Series comes to $33,465. The TSX starts at 26k.

    And the comparison's not even completely fair:

    TSX has 200 hp, 325i has 185.
    TSX has 6-speed, 325i has 5.
    TSX has double wishbone, 325i has front struts, and rear multilink. (toss up maybe)

    TSX comes with 17"s, 325i comes with 16"s

    TSX comes with 6 disc in-dash changer, 325i comes with a single CD player.

    TSX comes with side airbags and window curtain airbags, 325i has only side airbags.

    TSX 360 Watt sound system, 325i ???

    TSX 0-60 is 6.6-6.8, 325i 0-60 7.0-7.1



    So if to you RWD is worth a slower, less powerful, worse transmission, less powerful/luxurious stereo, less safe, smaller wheeled, and about $7,000, then by all means buy the BMW.

    Oh and did I mention the 325i doesn't come with body colored moldings?

    Not everything is worth the same in everybody's point of view.

    Besides, I think this car is more along the likes of the Mazda 6, Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima.

    Its just a car anyways.
     
  16. mucky

    mucky .

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    Re: Re: Preview - 2004 Acura TSX.

    I think more like the Audi A4 1.8t, Saab 9-3, and Volvo S40
     
  17. VBGOD

    VBGOD Guest

    I'd rather have those two extra cylinders.
     
  18. F=ma

    F=ma Guest

    The JDM ITR head makes 220 hp on a 2.0 Liter K20, where the RSX-S only makes 200. Bolt the ITR head onto the K24, 240? hp? :dunno:

    But I agree, not everyone has the same priorities...
     
  19. mucky

    mucky .

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    Why?
     
  20. PsychoDeli

    PsychoDeli Day of the Baphomets

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    Wood in interior = :greddy:

    Not a bad car otherwise.. i like the dash
     
  21. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I would buy a V6 Accord coupe or Saab 9-3 over the TSX, but it does sound like a very nice car.

    Just not enough oomph for me.
     
  22. mucky

    mucky .

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    Would you prefer the brushed metal look instead?

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  23. mucky

    mucky .

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    I like the TSX with the body kit.

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  24. VBGOD

    VBGOD Guest

    Comfortable power.

    For this type of car, I'd want decent power every in the band. If it was a $19,000 sporty Acura car, then I wouldn't have a problem with a peaky motor. In fact, I'd enjoy that high revving motor. For this specific car (TSX), I'd rather have smooth comfortable power that is usually found in a 6 cylinder vehicle.
     
  25. mucky

    mucky .

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    You do know the Contour's 2.5L V6's torque peaks higher than the TSX's 2.4L i4. Contour SVT has just as much a peaky hp as the TSX as their peak hp rpm is nearly the same.

    TSX:
    Power: 200 bhp @ 6800 rpm
    Torque: 166 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm

    Contour SVT:
    Power: 200 bhp @ 6600 rpm
    Torque : 169lb.ft @ 5,500
     

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