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Car reviews - Honda - Integra - GSi 3-dr hatch

Our Opinion

We like
Graceful styling, comfort, refinement, engineering excellence, hatchback versatility, (original only) Type R association
Room for improvement
The GSi isn't really a sports car, prices for parts and servicing can be pricey, some road noise filters through

Honda logo18 Jun 2003

By MALCOLM LIVERMORE

THE Integra was a completely new addition to the Honda range when it was originally released in May, 1986.

Honda aimed the Integra, which was based on the Civic platform and mechanical components, at image-conscious buyers who wanted a good looking, well equipped sports coupe with state of the art engineering.

Honda released the third generation Integra in mid-1993. Like most new models, it is bigger than its predecessors although the interior size is still two-plus-two.

The aerodynamic styling featured four round projector-style headlights recessed into the nose.

Although most of the mechanical parts carried over from the superseded car, Honda had worked hard on the new package and transformed Integra into a genuine sports coupe.

The big news for the new Integra was it came with Honda's VTEC variable valve timing technology which made for an exceptionally powerful engine for its size.

The downside was this engine made the Integra VTi-R a relatively expensive car for its class.

Honda broadened the Integra's appeal by introducing the GSi model with a more conventional twin cam engine for a lot less money.

The other big plus for the GSi is it has an optional automatic transmission whereas the V-TiR is only available as a manual.

The equipment list for the GSi includes most of the useful luxury and convenience features either standard or as options.

A power-operated glass sunroof, electric windows and mirrors and a good quality AM/FM radio/cassette with an electric antenna are standard. A driver's airbag was added to the list in late 1994 and anti-lock brakes replaced the sunroof in late 1997.

Air-conditioning was a popular option, as were alloy wheels and a VTi-R lookalike rear wing.

Inside, the Integra has comfortable cloth-trimmed bucket seats with good side support for the driver and front passenger.

The rear passengers' area lacks sufficient knee and head room for full-size adults so the rear seats are for children or short trips only.

The rear seat has a 50/50 split back which folds down so the luggage carrying capacity is good, although access through the rear hatch is hampered by the high lip.

Under the bonnet, the GSi has a 1.8-litre, all aluminium, 16- valve four with an output of 107kW. This is enough power to give the Integra the performance edge on its rivals, though the Calibra is almost a match.

The engine also has enough low and mid-range torque to make the Integra pleasant to drive in city traffic.

The suspension design is similar to the previous model with changes to increase wheel travel and improve the ride.

The result was a much better handling car with minimal body roll or understeer.

The ride comfort was improved although there is still road noise transmitted into the cabin on broken surfaces.

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