Based on the present-generation Honda Civic, the Acura CSX is made in Canada for Canadians. Why Honda chose to design and build an entry-level Acura just for the Canadian market doesn’t make much sense to me, but who am I to question one of the most successful automotive companies in the world? Perhaps Acura wanted a car that was priced between the Honda Accord and the up-coming Acura TSX.
I first drove the Canada-only Acura CSX back in December 2005. I sampled the 5-speed manual as well as the paddle-shift automatic in the middle of a snow storm, but came away thoroughly impressed by Acura’s entry-level cars. When I found out there was a Type S version available I just had to book one for a week to put it through its paces in the middle of summer.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I booked the CSX Type S, I couldn’t have had a better opportunity to compare it to two very different, yet similar cars in the same price range as well as targeted buyer. Previous to picking up the CSX, I’d spend 2 weeks with a MAZDASPEED6 and a MAZDASPEED3. At first-glance you may think they aren’t anything alike – but you’d be wrong. Like the Type S designation, the MAZDASPEEDs’ are tarted up versions of the plain-Jane every day vehicles on which they are based. Price-wise, the Acura sits right in the middle. Performance is the mainstay of all three cars and that’s why they are directly in competition with each other. To be fair, the Honda Civic Si should also be included in this mix.
The instrument panel is bi-level, just the same as the Civic, with red luminescent instrumentation. I would have thought Acura would have used a different colour, after all the Civic Si has blue gauges to differentiate it from the regular Civics’ red ones. The top section has the fuel gauge, digital speedometer and temperature gauge in the upper housing with the tachometer is in the lower level. Having the speedometer and fuel gauges in the upper-level makes it almost a heads-up display, it’s perfectly placed – right in the driver’s sight-line.
The small, thick leather-wrapped steering wheel is nice and comfortable in the hands, with the electric steering being perfectly weighted at all speeds. The wheel tilts and telescopes and has the audio and cruise control buttons within the spokes. The leather seats are heated and very comfortable with plenty of back support. They are nicely contoured and some may think they are a little firmer than necessary, but I had no complains about them for the week we had the car. I was a little surprised that they are manually operated; I was expecting power seats as in all other Acura’s.
Because I’ve driven this generation of Civic before, I felt completely at home in the CSX, with no time needed to familiarize myself with the car – it also helps that everything is so logically placed. The automatic climate control buttons are very legible and easy to operate. It has a small screen that you use the right dial to toggle through the selections – simple and effective.
Starting the engine brought a raspy boy-racer sound from the exhaust system – this is not your normal Acura. Blipping the throttle a couple of times brought a smile to my face – I was definitely NOT expecting this! At this point I have to make direct comparisons to the MAZDASPEED3. My wife drove the CSX from Honda to Mazda, while I drove the MAZDASPEED3. When we arrived she had a smile on her face, grabbed the Mazda key and drove off in the MAZDASPEED3. I waited for her to return – not realizing that until now she hadn’t driven the MAZDASPEED3. When she returned, she jumped out of the Mazda and said that the Acura was way better; it was more refined and easier to drive fast. I was skeptical because I LOVED the MAZDASPEED3 – this was going to be an interesting comparison.
Within a very brief distance – about 50 feet, I understood what she meant – the clutch/gears in the Acura were fantastic, whereas the Mazda’s was grabby and difficult to modulate in the first-to-second gear shift. Entering the freeway was a different story – the Acura felt like a slug after driving the MAZDASPEED3. Bear in mind that the Mazda had an additional 70+ horsepower as well as a turbo over the Acura. My wife felt that the CSX had a stiffer and more compliant suspension, but I still preferred the Mazda’s. Both cars offered 6-speed manuals as the only transmission, but clearly the Acura had the better of the two. The ride, fit and finish are very sporty – with the suspension bordering on being very stiff. The suspension absorbed all of the nasty potholes that the highways around the city of Toronto could throw at it.
As much as I loved the engine in the Civic Si, the CSX Type-S engine (the same one) didn’t feel as responsive or anywhere near as much fun to drive. With 197 hp @ 7,800 rpm and 139 lb-ft of torque @ 6,100 rpm, the Type-S is no slouch, but it did require getting close to the 7,800 rpm redline to get the maximum fun out of the car. Once the revs get over 6,500 the engine starts to sing and you get a rush of power, but unfortunately I was still addicted to the rush of the MAZDASPEED3’s turbo and it felt like a big letdown.
On the highway I found the noise level quite high when compared to other vehicles in the Acura CSX class range and even the Civic. With summer performance rubber, I expected the ride to be relatively quiet, but alas not so, it sounded more like winter tires. The sound of the raspy exhaust note is ever-present, but that wasn’t overpowering or even annoying at any time. The Acura press material went to great lengths to describe the many design and sound insulation procedures that they’ve used to keep the wind and noise levels down in the CSX, but it just wasn’t as quiet as was expected.
Rear seat accommodation is spacious and comfortable. With a completely flat floor, there’s plenty of room for 3 sets of feet back there. There’s plenty of knee, foot and leg room for all three rear passengers and the rear seat angle is perfect for short or long drives. Rear head room is plentiful unless you’re way over 6 foot tall, with hip room abundant for two but obviously less-so when there’s three passengers back there. The rear seat splits 60/40 and is done by using a couple of levers in the trunk. Oddly, the Acura has 12.5 cu-ft of trunk space as opposed to the identical Honda Civic that comes in at 11.5 cu-ft.
The audio system is very good and features a Premium 350-watt AM/FM/CD player along with 6 speakers plus a sub woofer. Standard-issue is also an Acura satellite-linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition and there is a couple of optional sound systems to tailor the music to customers desires. The 6.5” central display screen pivots electrically to expose slots for the DVD navigation and CD discs as well as a digital audio (PC) memory/Compact Flash card drive wired to the entertainment system, that makes it MP3/WMA compatible. The Sat/Nav uses a combination of DVD maps and information received from the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. An antenna mounted at the rear of the CSX can link with up to 12 of the 24 satellites at one time.
Below the stereo unit there’s a power outlet and an input jack for running your MP3 through the sound system along with a little shelf for storing your MP3 player. There’s an additional power outlet inside the arm rest/console that is large enough to hold up to 25 CD’s.
Some of the standard and unique features on the Type-S are: automatic climate control, leather-trimmed interior with heated front seats and “Type-S” embossing, 17” aluminum-alloy wheels on P215/45R17 tires, Front and rear stabilizer bars (27/17 mm) and Helical limited slip differential, drilled metal pedals and embroidered floor mats, a power moonroof and high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps along with the aforementioned a 350-watt audio system the navigation system.
On the safety front, the CSX is loaded with ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), reinforced side intrusion beams, side seat-mounted air bags, side curtain air bags, VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) with Traction Control and a Drive-by-Wire Throttle System with Variable Timing Control and an immobilizer system all come standard. The front occupants get seatbelt pre-tensioners with load-limiters and active head restraints, while all three rear passengers get head rests.
I can’t put my finger on why the CSX Type-S didn’t bowl me over. I loved the stable-mate and cheaper Civic Si, yet this car just didn’t do it for me. It does everything it’s designed to do, but maybe it’s the price that has something to do with it – for in and around $35,000 there’s a raft of cars that offer more horsepower. The all-new Accord is bigger and will offer a lot more horsepower – for less money. The Acura TSX has the same engine but looks better.
For more information visit: www.Acura.ca
Pricing for the 2007 Acura CSX Type-S
Base /As tested: $33,400 Cdn
Destination & Delivery: Canada – $1,350
Warranty and Roadside Assistance
The 2006 Acura CSX features a 4-year/80,000-kilometer limited warranty (with a 5-year/100,000-kilometer limited warranty on major components) and a 5-year/unlimited mileage warranty on rust perforation. Also included is 24-hour Roadside Assistance for the first four years of ownership.
Fuel Consumption: [Premium Unleaded – 91 Octane]
The CSX Type-S is rated at 10.2 L/100 kms [23.1 mpg] City and 6.8 L/100 kms [34.6 mpg] Highway
I averaged 8.8 L/100km [26.7 mpg] in combined but mostly highway driving and 8.0 L/100km [29.4 mpg] on 100% highway driving
Acura’s usual outstanding quality fit and finish
Better than average Sat/Nav system
Silky-smooth 6-speed transmission
Huge trunk for a small car
Superb gas mileage
Needs more power
Wind and road noise higher than expected
Would I Spend My Money On It?
To be honest, no.
Acura TSX, Honda Civic Si, MAZDASPEED6, MAZDASPEED 3, Toyota Camry SE, VW GTI, Volvo S40 T5
By The Numbers…
Powertrain: 2.0 L DOHC 16-valve i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine; 6-speed manual transmission
Horsepower: 197 @ 7,800 rpm
Torque: 139 @ 6,100 rpm
0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
10 – Quality
7 – Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
9 – Cargo Area/Trunk Space
10 – Special Features (Sat Nav/Heated Seats/ Sunroof, etc)
10 – Ease of Entry/Exit
9 – Front Roominess
9 – Rear Roominess
10 – Driving Position/Controls
7 – Drool Factor
10 – Fit & Finish
9 – Engine
10 – Transmission
10 – Ride & Handling
7 – Bang for the $$
10 – Fuel Economy
137 Total / 150
Copyright © 2007 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland