Featured: Why Is The Integra Type-R So Perfect From The Driver’s Seat?

Why Is The Integra Type-R So Perfect From The Driver’s Seat?

By Davide Cironi
November 2, 2015
7 comments

Photography by Davide Cironi

People spend their holidays under the warm sun here in Sardinia, that’s nothing new.

But after being given the chance to take a Honda Integra Type-R through the Italian island’s inner roads, my lady has been left at the seaside watching the horizon, asking herself, “…why?”

She can probably hear why. This car’s Spoon exhaust amplifies the car’s 1.8-litre 4-cylinder VTEC engine. It’s bossy, especially at its redline of 8,500 rpm. All around the island, listeners are hearing it through the straight pipe. For me, inside the Integra, it is just a powerful and friendly drug.

The locals are probably used to it: this road is used for hill climb racing, and I can totally see why. It goes up, down; fast, then tortuous. Then, even faster, unraveling to an insanely fast long, open chute.

This alleged “best FWD ever” screams up in rage toward the mountain, and I understand its reputation, even starting to think that the Integra Type R is probably one of the best-built sports cars ever. The driving position for the Recaro seat is pretty good. The distance from the steering wheel to the gear knob is as handy as on a race car—driver movements are rapid and easy, even at higher speed. My word, this car is fun as hell. The road is called Alghero-Bosa, from the names of these two towns it connects. Over the sea, Sardinian landscape is amazing, but the asphalt ahead hypnotizes my eyes, and I can’t stop pushing the car. I’ll return to nature later.

The sun is getting stronger on me and the Integra, which, luckily, is white. This color makes it look like a race car at the end of a championship, when all the sponsor stickers are removed, leaving the livery matte and worn. Everything reminds me of the track: how the engine revs, its exhaust note, the seats and sunshade band…but the thing actually makes me go nuts is the suspension set up. Its tires are like scalpels, with smaller wheels for precision and faster acceleration.

The cherry on top, so to speak, is its mechanical differential that kills understeer and allows me to use all of the power and torque the 1.8 offers. On roads like these, you know what that means: absolute happiness.

Well, sunset on the Riviera. Game over, but still time for a last run going back to Alghero. Soon, it’s “Goodbye, Miss Japan 1995, you probably are the best front-drive sports car…ever.”

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Peter J Smith
Peter J Smith
3 years ago

I’m no fan of Honda cars, but, the Integra had what was, arguably, the sweetest shifting gearbox of any car at it’s price range.

Don
Don
4 years ago

If it is the so called best FWD on this fantastic road, why does the car didn’t stay in lane or is the driver such a dumb ass?

Bryce
Bryce
4 years ago
Reply to  Don

Yes the inability to stay in your own lane is it the driver or the Honda chassis? easy way to be killed.

Ross Mccorquodale
Ross Mccorquodale
5 years ago

Don’t misunderstand me – I like Hondas and have been involved in racing and rallying them for a very long time. Mechanically they are some of the most reliable cars ever made. But there is a lot wrong with the DC2 Type-R and its close cousin, the EK9 B16B Civic.
Some say that they are the best handling FWD cars to ever be made in Japan. This might be true, because they are delightful to drive. But European manufacturers such as Alfa, Lancia and Saab have made much better. You could say that the B- series Type-R engine is the best engine ever made. That also might be true – but the crazy setting of the VTEC at nearly 6000 rpm means that on the road it is almost impossible to use that glorious power at legal speeds. Even on a racetrack, you must be very careful with gearshifts to stay in that VTEC range. And the very big gap between 1st and 2nd gears makes changing between them – up or down – a very slow gearshift.
In fact, with an aftermarket ECU, it becomes possible to engage the VTEC at 4000 rpm or (even less with the B18C) and make the car so much better to drive.
The secret of the handling is not the LSD – although that is certainly a great help.
It’s the very powerful rear anti-roll bar. The suspension has good travel and the dampers are ok, at least by comparison with other Japanese cars. So why do I always see photos showing the first modification that people make is to lower the car – and instantly destroy its ability to handle the ordinary bumps of ordinary roads? Leave the suspension alone! Or better: fit a set of Konis and get an experienced suspension tuner to adjust the damping properly.

Greg Spark
Greg Spark
5 years ago

Agree with most of what you say, Ross. But no point in changing the VTEC point, a lower setting doesn’t improve performance at all but might make you feel better. The point of this car lies in it’s design brief – a track tuned road car aimed at driving enthusiasts. As an every day driver it is very flawed (no low end torque/power, noisy, hard – although actually quite a compliant ride at higher speeds), but as an out-of-the-box tool for raw driver involvement it has arguably(!of course) not been bettered since.
For road use the suspension setup is near perfect – lowering it is what mis-informed boy-racers do.
And yes, that B18C engine! Mine ran for 9 years over thousands of kms of race/rally events completely untouched from factory – no japper grenade that’s for sure!
Yes there’s other great FWD drivers from other makers you mention (except Saab!), but Pertolicious isn’t the first to put it in first place – Evo magazine did that some time ago.
Like you I have raced and rallied one for 11 years.

Mark Yarrish
Mark Yarrish
6 years ago

Very fun car! I drove the US spec one, it is an amazing FWD car!, similar to my ’00 civic si, but just a little more refined.

Thistlebeeace
Thistlebeeace
6 years ago

Nice video. You’re not kidding about that road – I got to drive it last month, although unfortunately only in a Panda.

It [i]was[/i] a rental car, at least… 😉