All-new for 2006, the CSX becomes Acura’s entry-level offering. Like the EL it replaces, the CSX is offered only in Canada.

As the EL did, the CSX shares its platform and much of its external bodywork with the Honda Civic, which itself is completely redesigned for 2006. The CSX takes its 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine from the Acura RSX, with slightly different tuning, along with the RSX’s sportier ride and handling.

Two models are offered, the Touring and Premium. Both use a five-speed manual that can be optioned up to a five-speed automatic with paddle-shift manual mode.

The Touring includes 16-inch alloy wheels, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, side and curtain airbags, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, CD/MP3 player, automatic climate control, cruise control, auto up/down windows, and 60/40 folding rear seat.

The Premium adds leather interior, heated seats, high-intensity discharge headlights, six-CD stereo, and power sunroof. An optional navigation system with bilingual voice recognition can be added to the Premium model only.

Given the traditional Canadian penchant for practicality, the EL did very well for itself, and the CSX is poised to enjoy similar success. Like the Civic, it’s a well-balanced, solid little car; like the RSX, it has a sporty flavour and decent handling characteristics. The high-tech, two-tiered dash might not be to all tastes, especially when combined with its digital speedometer, but its depth gives the car a very roomy feeling inside. Its controls are simple and easy to operate, and there’s a great deal of small storage space. The windshield is huge and visibility is fairly good, save for thick A-pillars that are alleviated somewhat with the addition of small, non-opening triangular windows at their corners. Quiet but sporty, nimble and quick on its feet, the CSX should prove a good stepping-stone for those who prefer the Acura’s larger engine and sportier performance, but don’t want to stray too far beyond Civic prices.

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