2007 Acura CSX Type-S
2007 Acura CSX Type-S. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos
by Paul Williams

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Photo Gallery: 2007 Acura CSX Type-S

Washington, D.C. – According to Acura executives, the Canada-only Acura CSX is selling as well as its predecessor, the Acura EL. This is no surprise, as Canadians have immediately liked the idea of a well-priced, high content, Honda Civic-based compact with a luxury nameplate.

But one thing the EL never had was a Type-S version. This is the high performance badge that Acura added to its CL Coupe, TL and RSX starting in 2001. It kind of went dormant for a few years, but now the Type-S is back, and when applied to the $33,400 CSX Type-S, Acura has come up with something that’s very appealing indeed.

2007 Acura CSX Type-S
2007 Acura CSX Type-S. Click image to enlarge

The powertrain is basically taken from the Civic Si: a 197 horsepower, 2.0-litre VTEC four-cylinder engine mated to a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission, plus a limited slip differential and a tuned exhaust. Its sport suspension includes stiffer springs, firmer damping and more tightly controlled suspension movement with upgraded stabilizer bars front and rear. Tires are 215/45R17-inch on special Enkei rims.

The CSX Type-S uses drive-by-wire throttle control, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, vehicle stability control, traction control and electric power steering.

In addition to the unique wheels, other exterior Type-S identifiers are the rear wing, fog lights and Type-S badging.

2007 Acura CSX Type-S
2007 Acura CSX Type-S
2007 Acura CSX Type-S. Click image to enlarge

Inside, the driver and occupants are greeted with a full leather interior (which even includes the door panels and armrests) with contrasting stitching. The pedals are metallic-finished and the instrument and dashboard lighting features red illumination. Special carpets decorate the floors.

Standard equipment includes the full array of power amenities plus a navigation system (Acura’s navigation system laudably features Quebec French, but reverts to American English) with voice recognition. Voice commands can also be used for climate control and audio system settings.

Speaking of the audio, the CSX Type-S is equipped with a premium system that produces 350 watts through seven speakers, including an eight-inch subwoofer. The system is also MP3 and WMA compatible, and supplies an auxiliary jack input for iPods and similar devices.

Safety equipment is the same as the CSX and Honda Civic, which is to say: complete. Six airbags, including side curtains, Honda’s “ACE” body structure that’s designed to disperse collision energy throughout the body structure for enhanced occupant protection, and the aforementioned ABS, stability and traction controls are standard equipment.

Join Paul Williams and Globe & Mail auto writer Bob English behind the wheel of the CSX Type-S on the track at Summit Point Raceway (Windows media Player required – click the play button twice to start).

We were able to drive the CSX Type-S on the tight curves of Virginia’s Summit Point Raceway, where the experience can be described in one word: entertaining.

Okay, make that two words: Surprisingly entertaining.

The combination of power and handling in the CSX Type-S is just right for spirited driving without much risk of exceeding the abilities of most drivers. But even for accomplished drivers, the CSX Type-S is challenging and fun. The car is quick to accelerate, turn and stop at its maximum effective levels, so you can pretty much drive it flat-out in most circumstances.

Shifting is precise and rapid – the clutch feels great – and the small, sporty steering wheel is a delight to use. The event saw all of the invited journalists happily tearing around the track in the CSX Type-S, its exhaust note blatting out the gear changes like a ‘Sixties’ sports car – except that this car was winding up to 7,800 rpm between shifts.

2007 Acura CSX Type-S
2007 Acura CSX Type-S. Click image to enlarge

We let the navigation system guide us back to our Washington, DC hotel via a series of two-lane and multi-lane highways. In that environment, you could hear the slight presence of the sports exhaust, but otherwise it was a smooth ride with plenty of creature comforts. My driving partner, Bob English from the Globe and Mail, went so far as to say that for him, this car was just about perfect. “What else do you really need?” was how he put it.

The only quirk was the tendency of the engine to hold its speed when downshifting (how long have Hondas done this?). This wasn’t noticeable on the track where we were just zipping through the gears, but in regular city driving it was sometimes distracting,

2007 Acura CSX Type-S
2007 Acura CSX Type-S. Click image to enlarge

But overall, the CSX Type-S is a very well balanced and complete package. As I say, surprisingly entertaining for a compact, four-door, front-drive sedan. It even gets good mileage at 10.2/6.8 L/100 km, city/highway, plus you get all that content!

Acura expects to sell about 5,500 CSX models for 2007, with only 10% wearing the Type-S badge. The target market consists of young males with good credit, although I could see lots of people wanting one of these loaded cars. Honestly, it’s such a nice vehicle – the Americans at Summit Point were all over it, by the way – with its classy Acura front and rear treatment and sublime drivetrain. It could be just the compromise between luxury, sport and practicality that many people are looking for.

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