New Car/Review

1998 ACURA INTEGRA TYPE-R

by Matt/Bob Hagin

acura

SEE ALSO: Acura Buyer's Guide


SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 23,500
Price As Tested                                    $ 23,935
Engine Type          VTEC DOHC 4-valve 1.8 Liter I4 w/PMFI*
Engine Size                                 110 cid/1797 cc
Horsepower                                   195 @ 8000 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               130 @ 7500 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  101.2"/66.7"/172.4"
Transmission                              Five-speed manual
Curb Weight                                     2594 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  13.2 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                      195/55R15
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
Domestic Content                                       none
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            25/31/29
0-60 MPH                                          7 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       15.5 seconds @ 93 mph
Top speed                                           125 mph
     * Programmed multi-port fuel injection

(According to Bob Hagin, the new Acura Integra Type-R has gone soft with its standard rear window wiper/washer. His son Matt notes that even so, it will pull the doors off lots of cars on the road today.)

MATT - Acura was serious when it built the Type-R, Dad. It's even faster than the Integra GS-R we tested some time back, and that's the car Acura turned into the Type-R. The four cylinder engine in the Type-R is only 1.8 liters in size, but it pumps 195 horses - 25 more than the Integra GS-R. This makes the engine in the Type-R the most powerful per liter of any powerplant offered in this country without a turbocharger. There's not much torque down low in the rpm range, but it's not that kind of a car. With VTEC variable cam timing, its power band comes on at 5700 RPM and peaks at a teeth-rattling 8500 revs. If it weren't for the fuel cut-off system, the engine would wind way past redline - or blow up - I never found out. The engine's all-alloy and is practically custom- built with a matched set of connecting rods, hand-polished cylinder head ports and redesigned valves and valve gear.

BOB - The Type-R wasn't meant to be a college freshman's first away-from-home car, Matt. Acura went to great lengths to make the car as light as possible - but still keep it rugged. The wheel hubs and bearings are bigger and stronger than the GS-R model, and the wheels are held on with five lug bolts instead of four like the GS-R. Only the top-line Acura sedans and the mid-engined NSX carry five lug wheels. The only transmission available is a close-ratio five-speed connected to a mechanical limited slip differential. The corporate feeling was that a viscous unit would have been cheaper, but it would have robbed the car of some horsepower. And you can't get the Type-R with creature-comforts like a sun roof, vanity mirrors or any of the "traditional" options and if you want an air conditioning unit, it has to be special-ordered. Our test machine didn't have one, so I'm glad we tested it in the Spring.

MATT - I drove a Type-R on a race track in Texas last year and believe me, the car is stripped for action - it felt like I was driving in a pressure-cooker. Acura came into the semi-luxury car market in '96 and through its parent company, Honda, it's had a traditional presence in motorsports for a long time. It's hot and heavy into the Championship Auto Racing Team's series for Champ Cars, and just this week Alex Zanardi won the Champ Car race in Portland driving a Honda-powered Reynard. Honda is also ahead in the '98 CART championship points standings. And I'm told that the engine in the Type-R came from the same factory shops that developed Zanardi's 700-horse V8. Those are very impressive credentials.

BOB - It's not just the power train, Matt, the chassis and suspension of the Type-R is pretty exotic too. The suspensions both front and rear are multiple control arms rather than compact car-like MacPherson struts. The brakes are bigger than on the GS-R version, and they grip the rotors tenaciously. It has anti-lock brakes but no traction-control, which are both good foul-weather features. However, the Type-R's Bridgestone Potenza RE010 195/55R15 85V racing tires are specially-built just for the Type-R and not much good in the wet. Even the window sticker states that the tires are unsuitable for winter driving. I suppose that if buyers intend to do much wet-weather traveling in a Type-R, they should invest in a set of larger all-season tires.

MATT - Better add a different set of rims, Dad, unless they get a kick out of busting the tires off the rims every time rain clouds appear. The window sticker also says that the tires are only good for around 15,000 miles - "depending on how you drive." It's the kind of car that can be taken off the showroom floor, have a roll-cage and the other racing stuff installed and taken right to the track. And it even comes with a 4-year/50 thousand-mile warranty. I bet you couldn't get cars like this when you were a kid, Dad. Not for just under $24,000 at least.

BOB - Our first house cost us about half that much, Matt. Back then, that $24,000 would have bought me an Indy 500 car including spares.

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