by: Mike Ginsca
Although I have already reviewed a 2000 Honda Integra Type-R before, this one is very different from the last one I drove. There are many ways to modify a vehicle. You can make it more comfortable, make it stand out from the crowd, or you can turn it into a race car; which is exactly what the owner of this Honda Integra Type-R did.
Performance – Just about everything that you can tinker with has been tinkered with in this Integra Type-R (ITR). The engine is the same 1.8L inline-4 that the car originally came with. But it has had some work done to it such as headers, short air intake, a new head, new camshafts, and a complete rebuild after the timing belt snapped and bent 2 valves at 7000 rpms. All in all the ~215hp coming from this ITR feels exactly the same as the one I drove earlier in the year. Same characteristics too. No feeling of torque at low rpms and having to rev it hard to get any sort of forward momentum. But what a noise it makes going up to the 8,400 rpm redline. If you’ve ever wondered what a race car sounds like on city streets, just put a T1R 63S muffler with no catalytic converters or resonators and you’ll get your answer. It is deafening especially once the rpm needle goes past the point where most engines run out of steam.
But straight line speed has never been the strong point of any Integra Type-R. Where an ITR shines is around corners and this particular one does things a bit differently. Normally in a front-wheel-drive car if you’re going too fast into a corner it will understeer and continue to do so throughout until you let off the gas or hit the outside wall. In this one if you push it too hard into a corner, the back of the car will step out of line and try to “drift”. Obviously it can’t actually drift but it overturns around corners giving the feeling that you’ll spin out. This is something that caught me off-guard when test driving this particular car although the tires could have also contributed to this effect due to the fact that they were semi-slick, cold, and not scrubbed in yet. As the day went on and the Kumho Ecsta V710 tires had more heat in them, the feeling of oversteering was not quite as strong as it was in the morning.
Elsewhere, the ITR has no problems braking thanks to its light weight and upgraded brakes. The rear brakes are unchanged but the fronts have Spoon twinblock calipers with Project Mu HC+ pads and Spoon rotors. Combined with the semi-slick tires, this Integra will put some luxury sports cars to shame when it comes to braking. The stripped interior removed a lot of weight from what was an already light car but it did have and adverse effect on the comfort of the car.
Comfort – It has none because race car. Genuinely this is probably the most uncomfortable vehicle I’ve come across. The only car that comes close to the same poor level of “comfort” is this Lexus IS300. Like the Lexus, the interior has been completely stripped and replaced with a Cusco 6 point chromoly cage. Further adding to the discomfort are the polyurethane bushings in the suspension. They’re meant to reduce flex in the suspension and in turn they transfer every single noise, bump, and vibration from the suspension into the cabin. But worse still is the noise from the exhaust. I did say earlier that it does sound amazing when you’re driving like your pants are on fire but when you’re just trying to get home after a day at work, it is as annoying as the old 56k modem that everyone had when it was trying to connect to the internet. It is just a constant noise on a highway… at 4000 rpms because the Integra Type-R has very short gear ratios.
Odds and Ends – Just look at that rear spoiler. You’d think that it would cure the “oversteering” problem but it doesn’t. It does help. Without it, the car would be spinning around at every single corner but it just goes to show how much this car wants to behave like a rear-wheel-drive car. This is obviously not a car to be used on a daily basis. It’s a car that you take to the track and embarrass sports cars costing two or three times as much with a big smile on your face. And that has always been the point of the Integra Type-R. To make a front-wheel-drive car fun-to-drive but also obtainable for just about every gear head on the planet.
Thank you to the owner for providing the vehicle for the review and photoshoot.