Friday, October 25, 2013

Best FWD car ever made...

Evo Magazine (, a highly regarded and respected publication in the United Kingdom with a distinct focus on "The Thrill of Driving", gathered their 15 favorite FWD driver's cars in automotive history in their September 2006 issue. The top 15 cars were (from oldest to newest):

1982-84 VW Golf GTI mk1
1988-91 Peugeot 205 GTI
1989-95 Lotus Elan
1992-96 VW Corrado VR6
1993-96 Renault Clio Williams
1994-96 Peugeot 106 Rallye
1995-2005 Fiat Barchetta
1996-2000 Honda Integra Type-R
1997-2002 Ford Puma
1998-99 Peugeot 306 Rallye
2002-03 Ford Focus RS
2004-present VW Golf GTI mk5
2005 Renault Clio Trophy
2007-present Mini Cooper S Works GP
2007-present Renault Clio 197

Remarks on the Integra Type R from the initial round, before determining 6 finalists:

"There has never been a more focused, less compromised front-drive coupe than the Integra. From the moment you drop into its low-slung, huggy seat, clock the 8000rpm redline and give the titanium-topped gearlevel an exploratory waggle, you know that this could be a very special car. It doesn't disappoint.

'Unbelievable,' blurts Bovingdon. 'Superb engine, gearbox and brakes, and a simply awesome chassis.' Oh yes. Immediately obvious is the quality of the steering: its smoothness, its meatiness, its keenness. This Honda exudes quality and precision, and the limited slip diff subtly enhanves the traction of its relatively slim tyres. 'The more revs you pile on, the more neutral it seems to get,' adds Bovingdon. Meaden is more succinct: 'It's fantastic.'"

The 6 finalists are chosen:

2004-present VW Golf GTI mk5
2007-present Mini Cooper S Works GP
1988-91 Peugeot 205 GTI
1993-96 Renault Clio Williams
2005 Renault Clio Trophy
1996-2000 Honda Integra Type-R

"It's been a long time since I've driven an Integra, but it's like seeing an old friend. You sit low, arms and legs outstretched, rather than hunched over the wheel. Everything feels comfortable and perfectly placed, from the tactile titanium gearknob to the fat-rimmed steering wheel and alloy pedals. Longer, lower, and altogether more rakish than the boxy hatchbacks, when you drop into the coupe's classic Recaro you know you're in a different breed of car.

The VTEC motor sounds tinny on start-up, a brittle zing with no apparent guts and a less than sharp throttle response at low revs. The gearshift is delicious: short and precise, even in this 60,000-mile example.

The steering has surprising weight, despite power assistance, but there's a slight numbness to the feel for the first degree either side of dead centre. However, it's soon infused with super-detailed and ever-changing feel as you apply more lock, a constant flow of granular, textural feedback flowing through the rim.

Drive the Integra slowly and it feels a bit flaccid. You could almost wonder what all the fuss is about, but once that firecracker engine ignites, the humble Honda is transformed into a humdinger. It thrives on high revs, that classic VTEC kick hitting home at 6000rpm, from which point the fizzing four-cylinder emits a magical howl as the tacho needle homes in on and then passes 8000. It's like driving a real exotic: the super-high-revving engine, rifle-bolt gearshift, rigid bodyshell and incredibly controlled suspension melding to deliver an sensationally effective performance.

It's a frantic recipe, but there's so much more to the Integra than the binary character we've become used to in subsequent hot Hondas. You need to work the car hard, but it rewards you with a rich flow of organic feedback, tackling this unforgiving road with rare subtlety and composure, while at the same time keeping you involved every inch of the way.

Grip levels are miraculous on such modest rubber, and the limited-slip differential generates tremendous traction. There's no torque-steer to speak of, but then it's hardly rippling with lb ft, which probably explains it. Nevertheless, the combination of taut but supple suspension, a terrifically effective diff, abundant grip and no torque-steer leaves you with one of the purest and least corrupted front-drive helms ever.

As much as becomes abundantly clear as we tackle the corner for the final time. Still accelerating hard in fourth gear, at around 80mph, the Integra doesn't need any cajoling, coercing, or convincing. It simply turns in, biting hard into the tarmac, with a level of adjustability and fluidity that takes your breath away. It ignores the surface change, dances across the camber, and as momentum and lateral force begin to push the Bridgestones beyond even their prodigious adhesive limits, the Type-R enters a completely different realm.

You feel the nose hint at runing wide, but as you apply a little more lock the diff really begins to work, and in so doing brings the tail increasingly into play, to the point where the car actually adopts a mild, natural oversteer stance. Three wheels working hard, one barely in contact with the road, the Integra scythes through at unabated speed, no wasted effort, no scrappy corrections, just searing pace and total involvement.

It's a car as sweet and all-consuming as any I've experienced at any price, and as pure and focused in its own way as any Porsche RS. Forget the accolade of greatest front-wheel-drive car. The Integra Type-R ranks as one of the truly great drivers' cars of any kind."

The 6 finalists listed above are in finishing order. The Integra Type R is the greatest FWD car ever made!

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