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Fired up by high-revving Hondas’ blast from past

PUBLISHED: 11:48 26 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:48 26 March 2018

This 2005 Honda Civic Type R was one of the last first-generation models. Picture: Andy Russell

This 2005 Honda Civic Type R was one of the last first-generation models. Picture: Andy Russell

Andy Russell

Motoring editor Andy Russell enjoyed a trip down memory lane with some high-revving Type Rs and vociferous VTECs from the Honda heritage fleet and the car that started the ongoing Civic success story.

Honda Integra introduced the Type R badge to the UK. Picture: Andy RussellHonda Integra introduced the Type R badge to the UK. Picture: Andy Russell

It’s 20 years since Honda unleashed its first Type R model on the UK and, like the cars themselves, the high-performance tag very quickly became a hot hit with petrolheads.

The first such model in the UK was the Integra Type R in late 1997 and my first experience of this high-revving coupe left me a bit non-plussed. I’d grown up with British Leyland cars that tended to break all too easily, especially if revved hard.

But these tuned VTEC hearts beat sweeter the harder they’re worked and it took some time but gunning the Integra Type R’s 1.8-litre engine, unleashing an impressive 190PS at a heady 7,900rpm, was both eye-opener and grin inducer. With maximum torque at 7,300rpm it’s no wonder not a lot happens until you stir it into life with the snappy, five-speed manual gearbox.

The R stands for ‘race’ so Type Rs can take the strain and once the needle passed 6,000rpm the Integra came alive, its engine taking on a totally different character as though the volume had not just been turned up but suddenly turned on at full blast.

Honda NSX, launched in 1990, was a ground-breaking, mid-engined supercar - this model is from 2005. Picture: Andy RussellHonda NSX, launched in 1990, was a ground-breaking, mid-engined supercar - this model is from 2005. Picture: Andy Russell

It was a hoot, and the start of a love affair with these vociferous VTECs which really shout performance.

So when the Honda PR team invited members of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers – of which I am the most northerly and easterly member - to a driving day to catch up with some of the latest arrivals, including Jazz Sport supermini and diesel Civic family hatch, they also let us play with some of their favourite ‘toys’ from the heritage fleet:

1990 3.0 and 2005 3.2 VTEC NSX supercars – the former the first one in this country and driven by the late, great F1 world champion Ayrton Senna during testing.

2005 Civic Type R 2.0 i-VTEC Premier Edition – one of the last of the first-generation models, dubbed the ‘bread van’ because of its shape.

Honda S2000 two-seater, soft-top sports car and the Accord Type R. Picture: Andy RussellHonda S2000 two-seater, soft-top sports car and the Accord Type R. Picture: Andy Russell

2001 Accord Type R 2.2 i-VTEC – a race-bred sports saloon combining room and vroom.

2009 S2000 Edition 100 2.0 VTEC – commemorating the end of production for the two-seater sports car after a highly successful 10 years.

1975 Honda Civic 1.2 Deluxe – an early Mark 1 model that helped launch a model that is now in its 10th generation and sold worldwide.

But the star for me was a 2000 Integra R 1.8 VTEC, finished in championship white with white alloy wheels.

Honda Integra Type R's red front bucket seats. Picture: Andy RussellHonda Integra Type R's red front bucket seats. Picture: Andy Russell

Shedding 20 years, but not the 20lb I’ve gained since last driving the Integra Type R, I slipped, or rather squeezed, myself into the snug red, front bucket seats and fired it up.

The memories came flooding back and, once warm, I had to find an open road where I could let this highly-strung Honda howl and enjoy the hugely-responsive handling.

In a world of highly-flexible, torquey turbo engines, it made me realise how much I now miss those free-spinning, naturally-aspirated VTEC engines which get more rewarding as the revs rise.

More than just a trip down a motoring memory lane, it was a blast from the past!

Honda Integra introduced the Type R badge to the UK. Picture: Andy RussellHonda Integra introduced the Type R badge to the UK. Picture: Andy Russell

Do you have a fond memories of a favourite Honda? Tell my about it by emailing motoring@archant.co.uk

HONDA INTEGRA 1.8 TYPE R VTEC

Power: 190PS at 7,900rpm

The Type R badge is a big part of Honda's racing heritage. Picture: Andy RussellThe Type R badge is a big part of Honda's racing heritage. Picture: Andy Russell

Performance: 0-62mph 6.7 seconds; top speed 145mph

MPG: 32.1 combined

CO2 emissions: 208g/km

The Integra Type R was the first Type R available in Europe the first in a line of highly-developed, individual cars with the taut, responsive driving sensations rarely experienced outside motorsport.

2005 Honda Civic Type R. Picture: Andy Russell2005 Honda Civic Type R. Picture: Andy Russell

Without adornment, without frills, nothing was allowed to interfere with the absolute sensation of pure driving pleasure. The Integra Type R was critically acclaimed by many as the best-handling, front-wheel-drive car ever.

HONDA ACCORD TYPE R 2.2 i-VTEC

Power: 212PS at 7,200rpm

This 2005 Honda Civic Type R was one of the last first-generation models. Picture: Andy RussellThis 2005 Honda Civic Type R was one of the last first-generation models. Picture: Andy Russell

Performance: 0-62mph 7.5 seconds; top speed 142mph

MPG: 29.4 combined

CO2 emissions: 229g/km

The Accord Type R was a sporting machine with advanced engineering and minimal luxuries for a superior power-to-weight ratio and sharp, responsive handling.

1975 Honda Civic helped make this model and world car now in its 10th generation. Picture: Andy Russell1975 Honda Civic helped make this model and world car now in its 10th generation. Picture: Andy Russell

The Accord Type R’s close-ratio gearbox, performance clutch and limited slip differential permit rapid acceleration and improve traction out of corners.

HONDA CIVIC TYPE R 2.0 i-VTEC PREMIER SPECIAL EDITION

Power: 200PS at 7,400rpm

1975 Honda Civic helped make this model and world car now in its 10th generation. Picture: Andy Russell1975 Honda Civic helped make this model and world car now in its 10th generation. Picture: Andy Russell

Performance: 0-62mph 6.6 seconds; top speed 146mph

MPG: 31.7 combined

CO2 emissions: 212g/km

The first-generation Civic Type R, the first Civic with 100PS per litre, left the motoring press astounded. Not least because of the very sensible price and the retained practicality of this raw and raucous Type R.

1975 Honda Civic helped make this model and world car now in its 10th generation. Picture: Andy Russell1975 Honda Civic helped make this model and world car now in its 10th generation. Picture: Andy Russell

Projected UK sales of 1,500 a year were smashed and even quadrupled. This British built Type R was even exported back to Japan.

HONDA NSX 3.2 V6 VTEC

Power: 280PS at 7,300rpm

Honda NSX, launched in 1990, was a ground-breaking, mid-engined supercar - this model is from 2005. Picture: Andy RussellHonda NSX, launched in 1990, was a ground-breaking, mid-engined supercar - this model is from 2005. Picture: Andy Russell

Performance: 0-62mph 5.7 seconds; top speed 168mph

MPG: 22 combined

CO2 emissions: 291g/km

The NSX was a ground-breaking supercar that changed the way the world viewed the Japanese motor industry.

Honda NSX, launched in 1990, was a ground-breaking, mid-engined supercar - this model is from 2005. Picture: Andy RussellHonda NSX, launched in 1990, was a ground-breaking, mid-engined supercar - this model is from 2005. Picture: Andy Russell

A fully-fledged, mid-engined supercar, when the NSX was launched in 1990 it left the competition behind in terms of its outstanding balance of supercar performance with reliability and practicality.

Honda wanted the NSX to be perfect – not just a phenomenal driver’s experience but a car that everyone could drive, a car that was at home on the roads as well as on the race track. In 1990, this was an unique blend of abilities.

HONDA S2000 EDITION 100 2.0 VTEC

Power: 240PS at 8,300rpm

Performance: 0-62mph 6.2 seconds; top speed 150mph

MPG: 28.2 combined

CO2 emissions: 236g/km

Unveiled in 1999, the Honda S2000 was a 50th anniversary present to itself so had to be special, reflecting its racing heritage and showcasing its passion for innovation.

Honda Formula 1 engineers designed the car, giving it a unique 240PS, 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine which could rev to a 9,000rpm redline and won four International Engine of the Year awards.

New technologies such as double wishbone suspension and the ‘High X-bone’ frame ensured the car handled beautifully while also being incredibly safe.

HONDA CIVIC 1.2 DELUXE

Power: 50PS at 5,500rpm

Performance: 0-62mph 15.1 seconds; top speed 90mph

MPG: 46mpg at 56mph (estimated)

The word ‘civic’ means ‘of or relating to a citizen, a city, citizenship or civil affairs’. As its name suggests, the Civic incorporated Honda’s wish to create ‘a car for all people, a car for the world’.

The Civic made its world debut in 1972, subsequently winning three consecutive car of the year awards in Japan and many international accolades.

Ever since, the Civic has embodied Honda’s challenging spirit and is now worldwide.

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