For the 1998 model year, most of the Civic line remains unchanged, except at the top. The introduction of the new Civic Type-R gives Honda a trio of Type-R's for the Japanese market: the Civic, the Integra, and the NSX. Each is a concentrated engineering effort at making an already superb car even better. Here's a quick run-down on the changes made to the Civic Type-R. Visual cues first: On the exterior, the Civic Type-R has a larger chin spoiler and rear spoiler. They give the car a subtle countenance that fits well with the many small touches that were made elsewhere on the car. An equally-subtle "Championship White" paint job pays homage to Honda's early Formula One car that took the championship in 1965 while wearing the same shade. (Type-R's in Japan are also available in a limited number of non-white hues, unlike the North American Integra Type-R) The Civic Type-R wears the same lightweight 15x6-inch wheels and Bridgestone Potenza RE010 tires as the North American Integra Type-R, which means a switch to the same five-lug bolt pattern. Under the hood, the cam cover of the new VTEC engine gets the testa rossa (red head) treatment, wearing the same red crinkle-coat finish as its older sisters (the Integra Type-R and the NSX Type-R). A new strut tower brace, similar to the Integra GS-R's but in red, also makes a visual underhood statement. The power unit hiding under the testa rossa is quite different than your standard Civic powerplant. The differences start in the cylinder head, which is extensively hand-worked. The valves have been lightened, the stems narrowed where they pass through the port, and the back of the valve head has been re-contoured for better flow. The rest of the valvetrain includes more aggressive cams and stronger springs. The intake ports are hand-ported at a rate of only two a day, limiting production potential. Finally, the valve seat is blended into the intake port at a 60-degree angle instead of 45 degrees. At the bottom end of the engine, the pistons have been changed to raise compression to 10.8:1, up from the 10.4:1 on the SiR II, and the crank and rods have been strengthened accordingly. The result is 185 hp at 8200 rpm, and 118 lb-ft of torque at 7500 rpm. This power is put down through a transmission with revised gear ratios and a helical limited slip differential. Basic suspension geometry is unchanged, but the ride height is lowered 15 mm, and significantly stronger springs, shocks and anti-roll bars are employed. The brakes are strengthened as well, with larger rotors front and rear (the SiR already had rear discs, though U.S. Civics have rear drums). Inside the car, just as everywhere else, changes were made for the single purpose of heightening the driving experience. The seats are the same bright-red Recaros that are standard in the Japanese-market Integra Type-R. The racing-style seats are very comfortable for driving, but I dare say that they are difficult to get in and out of because of the high sides. If this car were to be imported to North America, the seats would probably have to be changed as a matter of course. The average American-sized driver would probably feel too constrained in the Japanese-model seats. All of the vital controls have been improved for the fast driving as well. The steering wheel, complete with a big red "H" in the center, has a nice, fat rim. The shifter is re-positioned slightly versus the SiR II, and the shift knob is made of titanium. Also, the brake pedal has been moved closer to the gas pedal to make heel-and-toe downshifting easier. The interior of the Civic Type-R is so driver-oriented that the feel of the controls alone is enough to start your adrenaline pumping. Finally, some invisible structural changes include thicker sheet metal around the rear hatch, an extra cross brace inside the rear bumper, and the aforementioned strut tower brace in the engine compartment. Despite these additions, the overall weight is down 66 pounds to 2,310. In short the Civic Type-R is standard Honda fare: A thorough engineering attack where most manufacturer's would simply slap on some decals and a spoiler.
Honda's Latest Rocket in the Type R fleet
1.6 Liters - 185 horsepower Over 116hp/L - Highest Specific Output of any NA mass-produced 4-cycle piston automobile motor in the free world $17,800 loaded $15,400 race-prepped
LinksDave's Acura Integra Website:
The Civic Type-R gallery.