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1997 Acura Integra GS-R Sedan Review

by Tom Hagin


SEE ALSO: Acura Buyer's Guide


Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price$ 21,400
Price As Tested$ 21,835
Engine Type1.8 Liter I4 w/PGM-FI*
Engine Size110 cid/1797 cc
Horsepower170 @ 7600 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)128 @ 6200 RPM
TransmissionFive-speed manual
Curb Weight2793 Pounds
Fuel Capacity13.2 gallons
Tires (F/R)P195/55R15
Brakes (F/R)Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive TrainFront-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle TypeFive-passenger/four-door
Domestic ContentFive percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)0.33


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
0-60 MPH7.7 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)16.3 seconds @ 89 mph
Top speed138 mph
* Programmed Fuel Injection

Acura's entry-level Integra sports coupes and sedans have always been practical compact cars with four cylinder engines, sophisticated suspension systems, superb fit and finish and strong dealer support.

The 1997 model line begins with the base RS, while the LS and GS are the luxury and sporty mid-level models, respectively. A limited edition, (only 500 slated for U.S allotment) 195 horsepower near-racing coupe, called the Type-R, should be available soon. Our test model for the week, the GS-R sedan- was a bit tamer, however, but not by much.

OUTSIDE - This third generation Integra is the sleekest model yet. Its .33 drag coefficient isn't the lowest in the industry, but a balanced shape teams together to reduce wind noise at the window pillars, enhance stability, and reduce the effects of crosswinds, which can sometimes be a cause for concern in a lightweight vehicle. Also, a special lightweight one-piece front bumper assembly eliminates gaps between the body and bumper, which can create turbulence and disrupt airflow over the hood. The quad projector beams headlights delight some but are disliked by others, while the car rides on wide Michelin-brand P195/55R15 high-performance tires. New for 1997 are a set of machine- finished 16-spoke alloy wheels for both the GS and GS-R models.

INSIDE - A low driver's seat gives the feeling of being down inside a bucket, though most people will be able to tailor a comfortable driving position. Though rated to haul five passengers, the Integra sedan is more comfortably suited to hauling four. Thin, but strong roof pillars and a low dashboard give an excellent outward view - especially in the four-door sedan version. The seats provide good, firm support - maybe too much for some, but the seatbacks are shaped to cradle occupants during hard cornering, which our GS-R test model does well. It comes nicely equipped with such standard items as air conditioning, power windows, door locks, mirrors and sunroof, as well as cruise control, tilt steering, lockable, fold-down rear seats and a powerful AM/FM/CD stereo system with six speakers. After all that, not much optional equipment is needed.

ON THE ROAD - Even with all its standard items and superb quality, the most outstanding part of the Integra GS-R is its engine. Using technology borrowed from its supercar sibling, the NSX, the GS-R powerplant produces an astounding 170 horsepower from only 1.8 liters, and the secret to all this power lies in its valve train. It utilizes dual overhead camshafts, which have three camshaft lobes and three corresponding rocker arms for each pair of valves. The middle lobe features higher lift and longer duration designed to turn the normally-docile engine into a high-rev screamer. There are other upgrades to this engine which differentiate it from the 140-horse version utilized in the rest of the Integra line, such as a dual-stage intake manifold and oil jet piston cooling, but the list is much too long to describe in detail. A five-speed manual transmission is the only gearbox offered with the GS-R package, and provides crisp, positive gear changes that feel borrowed from much more expensive sports sedans.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - The independent suspension system on the GS-R is different from the rest of the Integra line, too. All models use L-shaped lower front control arms, upper control arms, coil springs and a stabilizer bar. GS-R models add a shock tower brace to further stiffen the ride, as well as a front stabilizer bar equipped with ball joints instead of softer rubber bushings. The rear suspension is also independent, and features upper and lower control arms, a trailing arm, coil springs and a stabilizer bar. Both front and rear units use gas- pressurized, progressive-rate shock absorbers. And with all this high- tech equipment to make it go fast and handle good, Acura uses the best possible braking system to pull it down from speed. Four-wheel disc brakes and a sophisticated anti-lock braking system (ABS) are standard equipment, and work very well on both wet and dry pavement.

SAFETY - Dual airbags, ABS and side-impact beams are standard.

OPTIONS - There were no options on our test vehicle.