In search of front-wheel drive greatness
by David Pratte

If youíve already watched the video review, you may be thinking to yourself that we were a little hard on the 2013 Civic Si, considering that it was never meant to be a replacement for the far more performance-focused 1997-2001 Acura Integra Type R. And to some extent, youíd be right. But with the Civic Si being the only high-performance model in its lineup these days, it does present an interesting opportunity to reflect on where Honda stands in relation to its high-performance history, and more specifically how the current Si stacks up against one of the greatest front-wheel drive performance cars ever built.

And before you assume this is going to be an exercise in Honda bashing, keep in mind that Iíve owned 8 Hondas and currently have two in my driveway including a 2007 Civic EX sedan with over 150,000 miles on the odometer that still runs like a top. Itís also worth mentioning that Iíve owned a DC2 Integra Type R, raced in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in a Honda Civic with a K24 engine very closely related to the one in the current Si, and that I was the President of a local Honda/Acura motorsports club. So believe me when I tell you, few people have more respect or admiration for the engineers at Honda than I do.

WHATíS IN A BADGE?

Weíve all seen (and snickered at) Chevy Cavaliers or base model Honda Civics with faux Type R badges stuck to them. For Integra Type R owners, this is both horrific and confirmation of the dream car status their limited-edition pocket rocket still possesses. Itís one of those rare examples of a machine thatís greater than the sum of its parts, not to mention redefining whatís possible from a 1.8-liter engine that sends its power to the front wheels.

The magic that is the Integra Type R canít be boiled down to one or two things, either. Itís tempting to think that itís helical limited slip differential or close-ratio 5-speed transmission were the keys to its domination of the front-wheel drive performance world, but those are just small pieces of this masterpiece of engineering. Few automakers obsessed over the details the way Honda did with the Integra Type R, which shares a chassis with the lesser DC2 Integra model variants (including the LS and GS-R) but very little else.

The list of tweaks and upgrades the Integra Type R was equipped with is too long to list here (vist the Type R Registry for all the details), but key changes included larger calipers and rotors on 5-bolt hubs, heavily revised shock absorbers and spring rates as well as larger diameter sway bars, chassis stiffening in the form tie bars and reinforcement of the sheet metal in key structural areas, lightweight wheels wrapped in super sticky Bridgestone RE010 120-treadwear rating tires, a ride height 15mm lower than standard, and functional aerodynamic upgrades (including that iconic rear wing) that reduce lift by 30% and drag by 1%. And of course thereís also the weight reduction youíd expect from a track-focused machine like the ITR. Hondaís engineers having removed almost 100-lbs in all sorts of interesting places (including using thinner floor mats!) and in the process further centralized its weight for a lower polar moment of inertia and thus a car more willing to change direction.
Read the complete Civic Si vs Integra Type R comparison at AutoGuide.com