The Honda Integra, a car sold as an Acura in North America and as a Honda elsewhere, is a sporty front-wheel drive vehicle sold both as a sedan and hatchback. In the Acura lineup it was the smallest, least expensive model, designed to offer a competitor to vehicles like the Volkswagen Golf GTI, which was the most well known and popular "hot hatch" of the late 1980s when the Integra was introduced. Although a sedan was available for the first three generations of the Integra, it was dropped when the vehicle transitioned to its fourth generation "DC5" platform, sold as the RSX in North America. The Acura TSX now takes the Integra sedan's spot in the lineup.
Under the Honda lineup, the Integra was near the middle, slotting above smaller cars such as the Honda City, the Honda Civic, and the Honda Logo. The Honda Integra was considered to be mid-sized car by Japanese standards.
As of 2007, the fourth-generation Integra has been discontinued in North America and Australia, but is still sold in its home market of Japan. It was assembled in Sayama, Japan.
This vehicle debuted in Japan in 1985 as the Honda Quint Integra before going on sale a year later in North America as part of the then-new Acura lineup. Three and five-door hatchback bodies were available, with a 1.6L DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine powering both. The engine was the vehicle's most publicized feature, as DOHC, multi-valve engines were anything but commonplace in entry-level models at the time. The 5-door hatchback model was also sold in Australia but was rebadged as the Rover 416i.
The Integra was based on the less-sporty Civic, although it featured a small list of key upgrades over its lesser stablemate to help merit a price increase over the CRX Si, which was otherwise the sportiest compact vehicle being offered by Honda/Acura; enlarged 4-wheel disc brakes replaced the small front-disc/rear-drum setup used by the Civic and CRX, suspension calibration was re-worked, better tires were used and a 113hp DOHC fuel injected 16-valve engine was used in place of the SOHC unit from the CRX Si. Combined with sleeker styling and a nicer interior, buyers were effectively convinced that the Integra was worth the extra money, and nearly 228,000 units were sold during the four year run of the first generation model.
The first generation Integras actually came with two different engines. Although they shared the same engine code (D16A1), there were a few differences. The engine differed in the years 1986 to 1987 and 1988 to 1989. The two engines are commonly called the "Browntop" and "Blacktop" due to the color of their valve covers. The "browntop" came in 1986 and 1987 Integras while the "blacktop" came in 1988 and 1989 models. The improvements in the "blacktop" engine included lighter rods, domed pistons for slightly higher compression, and an electric advance distributor (the "browntop" came with a vacuum advance distributor). The overall gain in performance was about 5hp (3.7kW) for 118hp (88.0kW).
The original Integra was not without its shortcomings though; despite having 113hp (84.3kW) and a reachable 7100 rpm redline, the new DOHC engine had little torque and needed to be wound up quite a bit to make full power, leading to criticism that the model wasn't well-suited for day to day driving on surface streets, but was better tuned for spirited driving down tight, windy roads.
Main competitors in the US included the Toyota Corolla E80, Nissan 200SX, Ford Probe, the aforementioned VW GTI, along with Honda's own Civic and CRX.
Honda debuted the second generation Integra in 1989 as a 1990 model, now powered by a new 1.8L engine (B18A1) making 130hp (140 hp 1992-1993), giving the model a necessary boost in performance. The three-door hatchback (DA9 chassis code) continued to be available, but the 5-door hatchback was discontinued due to poor market reception and was replaced by a more conventional 4-door sedan body style (DB1 chassis code).
Trim levels for 1990 and 1991 included the RS (base model), LS, and a new GS trim level that featured anti-lock brakes, a first for the Integra. The 1991 GS had the option of leather interior.
For 1992, Acura added the GS-R trim level (DB2 chassis code), powered by a variant of the very successful B16A engine, called the B17A1, which was only available in USDM (United States Domestic Market) models. The difference between the B16A and B17A1 is the deck height and compression ratio and its displacement, the B17A1 is a 1678 cc engine. It featured a VTEC system, as found in the then-new NSX, bumping output to 160hp (119.3kW) and a 8000 rpm redline. Other features exclusive to the GS-R include the charcoal grey cloth interior (leather as a rare option), body-colored trim and front lip, and the third brake light mounted in the spoiler. Sunroof, power everything, and 14-inch 6-spoke aluminum wheels came standard as well.
The 92-93 Acura Integra GS-R is the rarest Integra to date because of its B17A engine, low production numbers, and unavailability in the used car market. This model Integra holds its retail value extremely well because of its rarity. It is estimated that approximately 1,500 were manufactured in 1992, and around 3,500 in 1993, for a total of around 5,000 ever produced. The 92-93 USDM GS-R was available in only three colors: red, white, and teal. Canadian market GS-R's came in red, black, and teal.
Other small updates came on to all trim levels in 1992, namely new front and rear bumpers, a new steering wheel, new taillights, new ECU, new camshafts, and chromed interior door handles.
The second generation was the last Integra to be sold without airbags in the United States. Motorized passive seat belts were used instead. Canada and the rest of the world received standard seat belts.
This generation also saw Acura make a bit of a marketing shift. Prior to the 1991 model year, Acura had made a minor point of the supposed understated elegance of minimal exterior badging. Therefore, from the 1986 to 1990 model years, the only external clues to any Integra's identity came at the rear, where badges for "Acura" "Integra", and the trim level appeared. For the 1991 model year however, Acura's "A" logo appeared for the very first time on the front of the hood, as well as between the taillights. Every Integra made since then has had the "A" badges. 262,285 units were sold from 1990 to 1993.
DC1/DC2/DC4 Integra (1993–1997)
Honda debuted the third generation model in 1993 in Japan. Acura followed in 1994. It had an unusual four headlight front end design which was dubbed "bug eyes" by some enthusiasts. Standard power from the B18B1 engine increased to 142hp (105.9kW), and the GS-R received the B18C1 engine, equipped with a dual-stage intake manifold and a displacement increase (from the second generation integra) from 1.7 liters to 1.8 liters, bringing power up to 182hp (135.7kW).
In 1998, Honda redesigned the Integra after the new Integra Type-R was released. In Japan the redesign had two more conventional looking headlights as the bug eye look had proven unpopular, outside Japan it had a slightly revised version of the four headlight front.
A Type R model was added for the 1995 model year in Japan and in 1997 in other markets, powered by a highly tuned, hand-finished variant of the GS-R's engine. The JDM B18C Spec-R (B18C5 for USDM) equipped Type-R produced 197hp (146.9kW). Although it had an impressive rev limit, the Type R was still hampered by some criticism; its maximum torque output of only 133.8 lb·ft at 7500 rpm meant that the engine would have to be revved high to achieve the best performance. Although the engine's "split personality" and unusually high capability to rev made it popular among hardcore enthusiasts, it cost the vehicle points in comparison tests where drivers noted that the vehicle was too hard-edged, loud and rev-hungry to be an easy daily driver. Although among many enthusiasts it's considered to be the pinnacle of street race cars.
Third-generation mid-model change (1998–2001)
Despite some popular demand for an Integra re-design for 1998, Honda chose to give the third generation model a slight facelift and re-release it. The 1998 Integra had slightly larger headlights, a more aggressive front bumper, all-red taillights, and a revised rear bumper. There were also some minor cosmetic changes to the interior, and small revisions to the electrical and mechanical components. The GS-R edition received 6-spoke "blade" style wheels as a stylistic change, leather interior, and for the 00-01 models a different exhaust system which gained the car 5lb·ft (6.8N·m) of tourqe and gave the car an impressive 189hp (141kW). Once again, the Type-R saw a limited release in the US. During this facelift, the sedan was not sold in Canada after 1997, replaced by the Acura EL, a rebadged JDM Honda Domani.
It is easy to quickly differentiate a 1998-2001 Integra from an older model in which the headlights are set slightly deeper within their respective cavities. With the 1998 model, the headlights became flush with the shape of the bumper, completely filling the cavities. These models are still popular among racing enthusiasts all around the continental US and Puerto Rico. For 1998, Honda also manufactured the more affordable LS and GS trim levels. The RS was no longer available. All models, (Excluding the GS-R and Type R) came out sporting a B18B1 Honda engine with a five speed manual transmission or its automatic version.
The Acura Integra was recently catalogued as one of the most thief-friendly cars in America. The Acura Integra featured six times in the top ten list, the 1998 model being the thieves' favorite.
Type R trim level and GSR (1996–2001 excluding 1999)
The Type R was the pinnacle of the Integra line. It had many exclusive features found on no other Integra. This trim of the Integra only came with a 5 speed manual transmission. The interior had red stitching on the arm rest and shift knob, and after year 2000, faux carbon fiber for cup holders, climate control, window switches' backings, and the shifter plate.
The Type R's B18C5 engine was not merely a tuned version of the GS-R's B18C1. The Type-R's head is a re-worked B16A head, (not the same as a GS-R head) with stiffer valve springs and a red cover. This head compared to the B16's was tuned, polished and outfitted to make the most of the 1.8L high-revving engine. Molybdenum-coated, high compression pistons and stronger-but-lighter connecting rods strengthened the reciprocating assembly. Extra counter-weighting on the crankshaft altered its vibration modes to enhance durability at high rpm. The intake valves were reshaped with a thinner stem and crown that reduced weight and improved flow. The intake ports were given a minor port and polish. Stiffer valve springs resisted float on more aggressive camshafts. Intake air was now drawn from inside the fender well, for a colder, denser charge. That intake fed a short-runner intake manifold with a larger throttle body for better breathing. An improved stainless steel exhaust collector with more gentle merge angles, a change to a larger, consistent piping diameter, flared internal piping in the muffler allowed easier exit of gases. A re-tuned engine computer also contributed to improved power output, which allowed the Type-R to accelerate from 0 to 60mph (100km/h) in 6.2 seconds (as opposed to the GS-R's 7.0).
The transmission was upgraded with lower and closer gear ratios in second through fifth gears, in order to take advantage of the additional rev range. The North American version retained the same 4.4 final drive throughout the Type-R's production run, unlike the Japanese version, which in 1998 changed to a 4.785 final drive along with revised gearing. The Type-R's open differential was replaced with a torque-sensing limited slip type.
The chassis received enhancements in the form of reinforcements to the rear wheel wells, roof rail, and other key areas. "Performance rods", chassis braces that were bolted in place, were added to the rear trunk wall and subframe. The front strut tower bar was replaced with a stronger aluminum piece, and the R also received the addition of a rear strut tower bar. Camber rigidity was improved at the rear by increasing wheel bearing span by 10mm. The Type-R's body also received a new functional rear spoiler, body-colored rocker panels and front lip, and 5-bolt hubs with special lightweight Type-R wheels. Under those wheels was a much larger set of disc brakes, front and back. The tires were upgraded to Bridgestone RE010 summer tires.
The Type-R received very aggressive tuning in its suspension settings. All soft rubber bushings were replaced with much stiffer versions, as much as 5.3 times higher in durometer readings. The springs and dampers were much stiffer, with a 10mm (0.4in) reduction in ride height. The rear anti-roll bar diameter was increased to 22mm (0.9in) in diameter. The front anti-roll bar retained the same size, although the end links were changed to a more responsive sealed ball joint as opposed to a rubber bushing on the lesser models. The result was a chassis with very responsive, racetrack-ready handling that ably absorbed mid-corner bumps. Mild oversteer was easy to induce with a lift of the throttle, and during steady-state cornering the car maintained a slight tail-out stance.
The interior was stripped down to reduce weight. The air conditioning system was removed in early models and nearly all the sound-dampening material was eliminated. This provided for a much noisier ride, but since the Type-R was marketed as a race car for the street, most owners didn't mind. The seats were also unique to the Type-R. Standard were weight saving Recaro racing seats.
The Integra SJ (standing for "Sedan Joyful") was a rebadged Civic Ferio, with modified headlamps and grille similar to the Orthia's and slightly larger rear lights. It was made from 1996 to 2001, and used the 1493 cc D15B engine. Honda's press material of the time indicated that the SJ was intended to provide a "formal sedan" for the Integra range; another reason may have been to sell Ferios using a more upmarket model name, as was the case with the Nissan Laurel Spirit. In Thailand, the Integra SJ was sold as the Isuzu Vertex, last passenger car ever for that market. (This followed Isuzu's practice of selling Honda models as Isuzus which started with the Gemini; while Honda also selling Isuzu's sport utility vehicles in Japan and North America, and pickup truck in Thailand.)
A total of 301,103 Integras were sold from 1994 to 2001.mmgg
Main article: Honda Integra DC5
The fourth generation Integra, produced from 2002 on, was renamed the Acura RSX for the United States, Canada and Hong Kong in accordance with Acura's new alphabetical naming scheme. It also had an entirely new engine, the K-series. The RSX was still sold as a Honda Integra in Japan and Australia, markets where Acura did not exist.
2006 marked the final model year for the RSX, and in May 2006, Honda discontinued the RSX. As of May 2007, the Honda Integra is still offered for sale in Japan, but was discontinued for sale in Australia, its other market.
Main article: Acura TSX
While the DC5 Hatchback model filled in the next generation for the Integra, the TSX was eventually released in 2003 as a 2004 model, filling the gap for the missing four-door, entry-level sedan. In other markets, the car is badged as a Honda Accord Euro.
The Integra was on Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list six times, in 1987, 1988, and 1994 through 1997. The GS-R model was called out specifically in 1994 and 1995. It made a return on the Ten Best as the Acura RSX, for 2002 and 2003. The Integra Type-R (DC2) was named as the best front-wheel-drive drivers' car ever by Evo Magazine in 2006.