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Acura Integra GS-R Coupe (2001)

SEE ALSO: Acura Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price$ 22,200
Price As Tested$ 24,101
Engine TypeDOHC 16-valve 1.8 Liter I4 w/PFI*
Engine Size110 cid/1797 cc
Horsepower170 @ 7600 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)128 @ 6200 RPM
TransmissionFive-speed manual
Curb Weight2709 pounds
Fuel Capacity13.2 gallons
Tires (F/R)P195/55R15 84V M&S
Brakes (F/R)Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive TrainFront-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle TypeFour-passenger/two-door
Domestic ContentN/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)N/A
EPA Economy, miles per gallon
0-60 MPH8.0 seconds
1/4 (E.T.)16.5 seconds @ 89.0 mph
Top-speed130 mph
* Sequential multi-port fuel injection

("The Acura Integra GS-R Coupe is the modern version of a youthful Muscle Car," says Matt Hagin. Bob Hagin says that today's youthful drivers get plenty of fun and a good guarantee as well in this car)

MATT - This new Integra GS-R Coupe is a typical Southern California Pocket Rocket that comes right off an assembly line. Acura is the upscale branch of Honda and it's a grudgingly accepted fact that the Honda Civic is the vehicle of choice of the teenyboppers for hopping-up with trick engine parts and exterior add-ons that convey attitude. Honda is obviously aware of this and the result is this fourth generation Integra GS-R. It isn't produced in great numbers, so a buyer won't have much trouble finding the car in a crowded parking lot.

BOB - Acura offers a pretty extensive variety of vehicles that range from the more prosaic sedan versions of the Integra up to the near-exotic NSX mid-engined sports car. All the Integras are equipped with air conditioning, a six-speaker CD sound system, power door locks, windows and moon roof. I'm not an proponent of sliding roofs, but youthful buyers like to cruise with the roof open and the sound system blasting. Our car came with leather upholstery, which I don't like, but I do like the big, simple dash cluster with its white-on-black instruments. Being a hatchback is also a plus if the driver decides to do something as common as hauling groceries but they'd better be light bags because the "liftover" height is pretty tall. This car is strictly a sports coupe since the back seat is pretty much restricted to shorties or little kids. Acura states that it aimed to make the interior "cozy" to give it that sports car feel and it worked. It's very snug.

MATT - The GS-R Coupe is definitely not just a gussied-up two-door sedan. Its purpose-built with lots of greenhouse vision for the driver. Apparently it's fast enough to make use of the spoiler on the hatchback and the P195/55R Michelin tires are mounted on polished alloy 15-inch wheels. The projector-type headlights still look a bit odd but as time goes by, I guess we'll get used to that type of headlamp as they show up on more cars. But the real strong point of the Integra GS-R Coupe is its performance. Both the standard Integra coupe and the GS-R Coupe are described as having 1.8 liter engines, but the one in the hot-rod version is just a bit smaller in displacement at 1797 cubic centimeters.

It puts out 170 horses which is 30 more than its stablemate. The additional beans come from its variable valve timing that switches over to a high-speed mode at 4400 revs, and from variable-length intake manifold runners that come on at 5800 rpm.

MATT - There's differences in the driveline too. They both have five-speed manuals as standard equipment, but the gear ratios in the GS-R Coupe are "closer" and its clutch, flywheel and other performance items are beefed up. Its suspension is tuned "tighter" and the shock towers are tied together with cross braces. Usually a powerful front-wheel- drive car like this is prone to torque-steer, which makes the car pull to the right under a hard throttle, but not this one. The drive axles on the Integras are of equal-length which neutralizes the problem. And the brakes are discs all around, with ventilated rotors in front and solid rotors in the rear. This isn't a problem, of course, since on a car like this, the front brakes provide around 70 percent of the stopping power.

BOB - Driving the GS-R Coupe is great fun and I think that its greatest attribute is its ability to be "squirted" through urban downtown traffic. It handles like a polo pony and its gears are close enough that the driver can keep the engine "on top" of the rev range for maximum acceleration. The Integra line has a four-speed automatic available in other models, but the buyer of a GS-R Coupe doesn't have a choice. I guess that Acura figures the buyers of these cars are more into performance than convenience.

MATT - Acura also makes the GS-R available as a four-door sedan for buyers who want the easier entry into the rear seats.

BOB - For a guy my age, the only "easy" entry into the back seat of either one of them would be if the tops were chopped off.