One of the most underrated JDM sports cars
If you like sports cars, it is very likely that you will also like Japanese cars. To a greater or lesser extent, but it is undeniable that the JDM culture has been a fundamental pillar in the international evolution of the automotive industry and motorsports. Today we will talk about one of those cars that are not in the Olympus of the Japanese, but that is quite a machine: the Honda Integra Type R.
With a good preparation, it may be on a par with the better-known namesake classics like the Toyota Supra MK.4, Mazda RX-7 or Nissan Skyline GT-R R33, but don’t underestimate this little guy. Honda is an expert in two things: making cars with low weight and small engines, but powerful and reliable.
The history of the Honda Integra Type R
The Type R version of the Honda Integra (or Acura Integra in the US market) was presented framed in the third generation during 1995 and 1996. The JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) version had elongated headlights, while for the rest of the countries it had the famous ‘bug eyes’ with four round and small optics.
The design was essentially the same, with a different front bumper from the standard model, a double-braced rear wing, and an obvious mechanical upgrade: the naturally aspirated 1.8-litre DOHC in-line 4-cylinder B18C engine yielded, depending on the country. , between 200 and 190 CV of power.
Its 5-speed manual gearbox was the classic of Honda sports cars, capable of stretching the gears to infinity and that has not stopped filling the internet with memes for years. In fact, the injection cut was as high as 8,600 rpm in the Japanese version.
Reinforced chassis, general weight reduction, higher compression in the cylinders… In short, a car weighing just over 1,100 kg with a sensational power-to-weight ratio, front-wheel drive and a very low center of gravity that made it a beast in curves .
After that first version came the Honda Integra Type R Spec R, with a new restyling, new wheels, brakes with larger diameter discs and a new gear ratio and internal mechanics that improved torque delivery at low revolutions, where many Honda suffered before reaching their optimal ratio (between 5,500 and 8,000 rpm).
This version was able to sign a 0 to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and reach a maximum speed of 231 km/h. Not bad for the time, and regarding cornering performance, it should be seen against many modern sports compacts…
Acclaimed and disappeared… More or less
It’s no secret that Honda lost money with every unit they sold, but we’re talking about times when a brand’s reputation was worth gold. It was an investment in the company’s image, although it did not leave financial benefits.
To a large extent, its production was also due to the need for FIA homologation for various championships, in a time when Honda had a huge presence in touring car, Formula 1 and endurance competitions.
The sports compact was acclaimed by pilots and the press of the time. In fact, it was named ‘The Best Performing Front Wheel Drive Car Ever’ by Evo magazine, among many other great headlines of the time.
Unfortunately, the Integra was overshadowed by the Honda Civic. The appearance of other great bets in the following years such as the Honda NSX or the Honda S2000 together with the fame of the Civic Type R, ended up relegating the Integra to the background.
The fourth and last generation was produced between 2001 and 2006 for Japan, North America and Australia with different versions of the K20 engine, and there was the DC5 Type R version with a K20A 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine producing 225 hp. A somewhat more modern jewel, but of which there are few units and only Japanese.
This year Honda re-introduced a new Integra, which will arrive in 2023 as a premium sports compact of just over 200 hp with a 1.5 VTEC Turbo engine and available with a 6-speed manual gearbox.
Its aesthetics do not disappoint, but there has still been no talk of a Type R version that represents a real qualitative and performance leap compared to the third generation of the 90’s. Time to time and who knows, maybe Honda will do like Toyota with the GR versions of its sports cars and give us a joy…