‘Forget the accolade of greatest front-wheel-drive car. The Integra Type-R ranks as one of the truly great drivers' cars of any kind.’ The words of Evo Magazine's Richard Meaden in 2006, concluding a test which saw the sparkling Honda Coupe see off such highly-regarded company as the Peugeot 205 GTI and the Renault Clios Williams and 182 Trophy. It’s quite a machine, then…
The Integra Type-R first debuted in 1995 exclusively as a Japanese domestic market model. The most extreme version of the third-gen Integra, a car which began life in 1993, the Type-R (code name DC2) was powered by a 1.8-litre four cylinder engine. The hand-built unit featured polished and ported intake ports, revised breathing and high compression pistons, helping it produce 190-200bhp (depending on market) with a 8700rpm redline.
Typical of many Type-R models, a series of weight saving measures complimented the highly-strung engine. Despite extra chassis strengthening, the introduction of a thinner windscreen, reduced sound deadening and lighter alloy wheels meant that the DC2 weighed 15 kilos less than cooking Integras. Power was transferred to the road via a five-speed gearbox and limited slip differential.
It looks suitably aggressive from the outside, thanks to the deep front bumper, ten-spoke alloy wheels (only 15 inches in diameter) and red Honda badging, not to mention the huge rear spoiler. A couple of modest upgrades to the cabin – most notably the bright red Recaro seats, Type-R steering wheel and titanium gear knob – lifted the appearance from the typically plain '90's Japanese fare to something which feels special.
Despite the almost universal praise from the press and strong following among fans, the Integra remains a fairly affordable performance car.
Which one to buy?
Two versions of the Integra Type R were produced. The first, known as the DC2, was available in subtly different guises around the world. UK market cars can be recognised by quad headlamps, while JDM cars featured more conventional rectangular items.
Mechanically, JDM cars built from 1996-’98 are largely the same as UK cars, save for different alloy wheels, smaller disc brakes (262mm discs vs the UK’s 282mm), and a different exhaust manifold design. JDM cars from ‘98 onwards gained the larger brakes.
Power outputs vary around the world, due to different fuel maps – the JDM car is optimised to run on 100 octane fuel, so quoted power outputs are around 10bhp more than the 97 RON UK versions.
The DC2’s replacement, the DC5, was based upon the later fourth-gen Integra chassis. A new engine, a 2.0-litre unit, produced 217bhp and 152lb ft of torque – gains of 30bhp and 21lb ft over the previous version. It remained just as frantic, though, revving keenly up to its 8400rpm redline. A six-speed gearbox was fitted in place of the previous five speed of the DC2.
The new chassis and body shell were much more rigid than the previous version, and the springs and dampers were stiffened significantly allowing for greater body control. Wheels now measured 17 inches in diameter, which combined with wider 215-section tyres improved grip significantly. The larger body and improved crash structure resulted in a 72 kilo weight increase over the first gen model, but the increase in power helped it achieve a similar 0-62mph time.
Unlike the DC2, the DC5 was never officially imported to the UK as it was feared it would steal too many sales away from the Civic Type R.
Performance and spec
Engine 1797cc inline four
Power 187bhp @ 8000rpm
Torque 131lb ft @ 7300rpm
Top speed 137mph
Fuel consumption 28.9mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Insurance group 35
Dimensions and weight
● Generally the B18C engine found in the DC2 is pretty bulletproof, but there are one or two things to look out for. They have a tendency to burn through oil quite quickly, so be sure to ask that it gets topped up regularly. Any signs of smoke when revved can signify worn piston rings – a costly fix.
● Make sure engine is warmed through fully before taking it anywhere near the red line. If you’re buying privately, ask the owner to drive it too, to find out how they treat it.
● These cars are often used on track, and on the whole they stand up to the punishment fairly well. However, a clutch is always going to suffer from track abuse, and the 2nd/3rd gear synchro can wear
● Likewise, the gear linkage can become slack with repeated beatings. If the shift quality feels anything other than rifle-bolt precise, then the linkage might need changing.
● The standard-fit Recaros are wonderfully supportive, but their flared bolsters mean that they often wear, particularly on the driver’s side.
● UK market models can suffer from rust on the rear arches, a symptom of water creeping below rubber seals in the inner arch. Many owners remove these (they aren’t fitted to JDM or US-spec cars anyway), which goes a long way towards preventing the problem.
● Ideally you want to view the car on a bright, clear day to inspect the quality of the paint. Red cars tend to fade badly and white cars lose their gloss and become dull.
1995: DC2 released in Japanese market
1996: DC2 released in UK market
1998: JDM DC2 gains subtle mechanical revisions
2000: DC2 production ceases
2002: DC5 released in Japanese market only
June 2006: DC5 discontinued
Key clubs and websites
• type-r-owners.co.uk/forums – Forum for all things Type-R
• www.itr-dc2.com/forum – Online forum dedicated to the DC2 Integra
• www.itr-dc5.com – Members club for DC5 owners
• www.autotorque.net/honda-specilaists – Honda specialists based in Ayelsbury, Buckinghamshire
• torque-gt.co.uk – Import brokers who source a wide range of Japanese market performance cars
Summary and prices
The older DC2, for now at least, remains cheaper to buy than the newer DC5. An original, unmolested JDM example with around 100,000 miles can be had for around £4500, with higher mileage UK models starting from slightly more. The very best low mileage examples creep up toward £10,000.
Imported DC5s tend to start from around £7500, rising to £14,000 for cars with fewer than 50,000 miles on the clock. With ‘a much greater selection available in Japan, it may be worth contacting an import specialist to increase the choice available.
Words: Alex Ingram