VTEC Kicks in, Yo - Reviewing Honda cars Jump to Part II here. Okay, so I get to talk about Honda today. We know it for manufacturing truly dependable engines, but also for sealing some of the world's most competent cars automotive history has given birth to. Constant pursuit for perfection in driving dynamics led to a somehow common belief that Honda willingly makes cars in favor of spirited drivers and street racers. But it's really just a prejudice that has to be fought against. Honda already took measures on their part with models like the Fit or the Odyssey. So don't have to feel like a bad boy just because you're driving a Honda, it's more about Honda than meets the eyes. During the 90's, Honda was making a wide variety of unique sports cars. Most of these cars failed to achieve expected sale results, but were praised heavily by the critics and consumers alike, which later helped Honda establish itself as an important player in the realm of performance cars. I think no other manufacturer had so many models on offer for those who wanted something more from a car, something other than a regular A to B obedience. I'm happy to say that in GT2 we can test all these models, for free at that. With over 10 models to choose from, there is a little bit of everything for everyone. My goal is to cover all these cars, one by one, so sit back and enjoy the show. CR-X The car you're looking at right now was the first one I ran into while checking out the Honda shop, thinking about what car I should start with. There has always been something charming about the old CR-X, so it is no wonder my eyes landed on it as soon as I stepped into the shop. The way it looks goes against all common rules prescribed for car design from that period. I think the car has aged extremely well, I would trade it for something like a Civic any day. And when you know it drives just as good as it looks, you know you have a car you won't give up on so easily. In spite of having stiffer front springs, understeer interferes only moderately. It's is rather safe to assume you'll be able to kick some assess without even trying when this little bastard stars tearing paved roads. The only problem is that it is very limited on power it can get from aftermarket upgrades. Only 205 horsepower?! That's not just a drawback, that's a drawback and a half. On some tracks you'll be able to get away with such low power thanks to good handling, but sooner or later you will hit a wall you won't be able to overcome. There is also a Mugen version of the same model, which can be won from one of the earlier races. It has stiffer spring ratio and better aerodynamics, due which I recorded around 5 kph higher top speed on Grindewald and about a second faster lap time. Doesn't sound like much, but it sure is, especially when you consider it is heavier than the standard model, and has identical power output. Yeah, that's the thing with Mugen models in this game, they never, EVER come with increased power. You get better suspension and additional external details, but the level of grease inside the engine remains the same. Still, this one does a great job performing as a sports car, and is a good replacement for the standard CR-X as long as you don't mind the fact you can't apply racing modifications on it. One thing I do mind, however, it comes only in black. May I ask why? Look at the standard model, it can be had in red, blue, green... it's not black and black only, that's for sure. Referring to the improved styling the Mugen model comes with, one part of the car info screen says, I quote "even looking at it now, we can see that it has quite a high level of finish". See what, I can't see jack sh**! Thanks to the hardware limitations, dark colors in this game tend to blur appearance of cars and hide some of the details you would like to see. And isn't that the main point, to let me see what has been done on the car?! And then we have the second model, commonly referred to as Del Sol. I always thought this was one of Honda's oddest models as far as design is considered, it just doesn't blend well with any other Honda model from that period, let alone the old CR-X. It never managed to surpass the success of the preceding model, and I think it never will. But once again we can enjoy in good handling, maybe even better than on the old model. It walks down a thin line between allowing the weight to fully aid tires and staying responsive enough. Independent suspension does miracles, doesn't it? Obviously to such agree PD couldn't resist including like four versions of the same model! I don't know why, if we had only one CR-X from the previous generation, why couldn't we get one from the new generation as well?! It's a just a play of badging and marketing anyway. Let me give you a quick explanation - the S and the VGi are the base models, whereas the SiR and the Si are the up-level models. Basically, we only have two models, but each has a version for another market. What's the point, why this? As long as I get the fastest model, I don't care what it says on the trunk. By the way, we have four Del Sol models as long as you do not count the Mugen version. If my calculation is correct, that brings our count to 5. Just in case you can't get enough of CR-Xes. The Mugen model comes in green and has a little stripe on each of its side panels. When I first saw it I thought it would make me puke because very few cars look good in dark green, and to be honest, the Del Sol wasn't a good-looking car to start with either. But after looking at it for a while, I realized they actually did a good job there, it is close to being attractive! Once again Mugen added stiffer suspension without touching the power, which is enough to add few milliseconds of advantage on track. The problem is that it ends up being the heaviest model in the range, since it can't accept any racing modifications, and is initially heavier than the standard Del Sol, let alone the old CR-X. Sounds bad, but if I had to choose one of these Del Sol things, I would still go with the Mugen. With all these nice visual details they added to the car, the joy of owning a Del Sol can finally be sensed. Case closed, moving on to another car, the Civic. CIVIC The Civic shares a lot in common with the CR-X, depending on models you're comparing, but there is one important distinction that should never be mistaken for something else - the Civic is a main pillar of the entire Honda production. If you take the CR-X away, Honda gets runny nose, but take the Civic away, and you will bestow legendary flu on Honda from which it won't be able to recover. As the main model of the manufacturer, it was sold in several forms to satisfy large scale of customers the market is traditionally cluttered with. That eventually awarded us with some nice performance models to play with. This time we don't have to deal with lower spec models, thank heaven, just the fastest ones, but that still didn't save us from multiple versions of the same model. Why, why was it so necessary to have so many different versions of the same car? Was their attention to make you feel like you're in a dealership, weighing advantages and disadvantages of each model within a set price? Well, I doesn't work on me, that's for sure, all I see is a pile of identical data that takes up valuable space on the disc. As I said earlier, gamers seating in front of TV only need one car, presumably the best one, whether in power, weight or something similar. Not this kakaduki marketing crap! Anyway, the most popular models are the 3-door EG and EK. Both models can be equipped with turbochargers, which dramatically affects their maximum power, but at the cost of responsiveness when the rev needle drops down. I always recommend that high-rev engines with spiky power output should never, EVER receive a turbo upgrade, but if you want that extra boost to keep up with a Supra, it can happen. Although the standard VTi model drives well enough, most people will look for the ultimate Type-R. Why? Because of the badge, of course! But to tell you the truth, I wasn't that impressed with it. It may have close to 200 hp (which was a nice feat for a 1.6 liter engine back then), but it doesn't feel any faster than the standard Del Sol I tested previously. It's a good car for sure, but without being particularly better than any other model from Honda's front-wheel drive range. I do appreciate the fact it can be yours in white, and even yellow if you want to, these are right car colors in games built on old hardware. I also noticed PD gave us a choice between the '97 and '98 model. WHY? I thought that would conclude my time with the model until I came to realization I still have to cover the Mugen version of the Type R. Yes, we have that one as well. The last two Mugen models did minor improvements to their base relatives, so there is no reason to doubt it will be the same for this one, right? WRONG! They haven't done much work down there, if any. The spring setup has remained almost identical, only front is stiffer by few decimals, and you wouldn't call that a progress, would you? The newly tempered LSD gives as much as it takes away. While on some corners the car does feel stickier and more resistible to losing traction in mid-sections, on others it widens the car's path and somehow reduces its agility. I also noticed the standard Type R can be nicely rotated around the apex of the corners with brakes applied, this is hard to achieve with the Mugen. I'm not sure what to think. Maybe I would think different of it if only it didn't look like crap! I mean, just look at that aggressive styling, the front bumper in particular. Good lord, is it odious or what?! It looks like something that jumped out of a Tokyo Xtreme Racing game. Man... Don't get me wrong, it's not that I hate the car or anything, but I don't feel any particular progress was made with it, so I'm just not really enthusiastic about driving it again. Ever again. The only good thing I can say, it's the most powerful Civic in the game when fully maxed out. For extreme situations you can pick the Spoon Civic. Yeah, we're dragging in another tuner, the Spoon. These guys do everything, from moderate tweaks to complete conversions. Our model is based on the Civic Type-R, again, but with a totally different level of finish. It's a great car with distinctive appearance, heart and sound, but lame maximum top power. Spoon injected their race track experience into this model, but I found it car to be a bit too stiff for my taste. It easily flies off the ground when it hits a bump and understeer can kick in hard on corner entries when shifting weight. It lacks the smooth feel of the standard Type R. I think it has a potential to be the best Civic in the game, but only if you do major tweaks to the suspension and stay away from high-speed tracks and heavily modded, boost-assisted Type Rs. The '93 Civic Ferio is like a family version of the standard 3-door Civic. While you can't be overly excited about it after all these years of looking at the model with one pair of doors short, it does bring a decent change to the eyes. The only problem is that the power can't be increased over 240 horsepower or so, because for some reason you can't add any turbochargers like on the 3-door model. I mean, what kind of crap is that? If you can upgrade them on the 3-door model, I don't see any logical reason why it would be any different with the Ferio! It could be a bug or an oversight, but it could also be a stupid decision without any reasoning supporting it. We'll never know. When it comes to handling, it handles just like the 3-door model. Okay, it doesn't, there is one little difference. The Ferio has a longer wheelbase, so it's naturally less prone to losing rear grip. It's not like the 3-door model is a tail-happy son of a gun either, but that Ferio is even more determined not to let the rear end slide as it pleases. In every other aspect, we're talking about the same cars. If you need more Ferios, then more you buy. PD supplied like four models, so worry not, they got you covered. The new Ferio doesn't seem to be any better, it's heavier and drives exactly like the old one. I noticed the '96 version has more even spring ratio than the '98 model, but I doubt anyone will give two jacks about that. The Mugen model also exists, and it is the only one that looks aesthetically different, though not necessarily in a good way. Every time I look at that wing, I recall one of many customs I used to drive in NFS U2. Can't get any more ricier than that. It's a more responsive version of the standard model, painted in a peculiar shade of gray. And that's it, that's all I can say about it. Out of all the cars I have tested so far, the Ferios gave me the hardest time seeking differences between model variations. Whether you will buy CR-X or Civic should depend on your personal preferences. As I said earlier, these cars share a lot in common, and in a video game like GT it's hard to nail down all the right details. Overall, CR-X is a better looking ride, while the Civic gets more advantage in power and stability department. Whichever you pick, you'll get a good value for your money. If you want to drive something truly special, you won't pick any of these, though. You'll pick Projud. PRELUDE Projud? Did I spell that correctly? Projud? Or maybe Prelude? I suppose it's the former since that's how English dictionary pronounces it, but man... this really sucks, can you imagine someone saying Honda Projud?! I'm driving Honda Projud? Good lord... Anyways, this is what I got to next. If you're starting to feel a bit confused with all these front-wheel variations popping out from nowhere, it's best to look at Prelude as a premium example of Honda's front-wheel drive range, because... that's what it is! It has more technology built in and is adjusted for both comfortable and sports driving. If you think that can only lead to compromises, thus disappointment, thus cursing, worry not, this is nothing like that. The fact is, the Prelude is pretty damn good car! It may not look like your ideal track day ride, but it sure drives like one. We have two generations in the game, the 4th one being the oldest. At first, everything seemed self-explanatory with only two versions available, I wasn't expecting any problems with naming and badging. But I knew something was off when I noticed a typo on the spec info screen for the 2.0i model. You see, the 2.0i model was the base model for the European market in real life and is the base model in our game as well. It makes sense, right, to have an European model in European version of the game? But then why the info spec screen says it has a 2.2 liter DOHC 157 HP engine?! This is clearly a nonsense because the real deal had a 2.0 liter SOHC engine with 133 ponies. After all, shouldn't that be obvious, that a 2.0 model has a 2.0 engine? This mistake only lead me to a conclusion that the entry model we have in the game is the upper Si model, not the European 2.0i. What a confusing load of misleading ********. You would think that it would be impossible to mess up naming of only two models, but kakaduki can happen anytime, any day. The top model is the VTEC Si kicking out 200 HP. This baby was the range-leading machine, limited to Japan only. This is the model most players usually opt for when choosing a Prelude, and that's the one I picked up for testing. So, what's new about the Prelude that we haven't experienced on CR-X or Civic? Well, I found two major things. First, this is the only model alongside the Accord that can be bought with a big-ass 2.2 liter engine. And since in GT displacement affects maximum power you car can get, it's quite satisfying to know that you can achieve over 300 horsepower without even looking at turbochargers, let alone installing them. I myself prefer using NA upgrades whenever possible, so this is a plus from my point of view. Second, customers could opt for a four-wheel steering system. This is something Honda kept in production specifically for the Prelude models, probably to make them stand out from the rest of the in-house range or to justify the premium image the Prelude was supposed to have. I can't confirm the model in GT2 has it, but it probably wouldn't make any difference anyway. I have driven a number of cars in the GT series that were supposed to have a four-wheel steering, and I don't recall any of them being particularly different to drive, regardless of the hardware on which the game was running. One thing I can say is that the car drives well, with or without four-wheel steering. It's a bit on heavy side, which is obvious when clearing long sweepers, but that's nothing you can't fix with a better suspension kit. The springs are nicely balanced in terms of their stiffness, and you can record nice top speed on straights thanks to the powerful engine. I thought the Civic Type-R would be the fastest model since it has the lowest power-to-weight ratio, but the Prelude does it better, the extra torque ensures propelling this big thing is no biggie. It's a surprisingly fast car and really feels like a good, polished grand tourer. Much like its predecessor, the 5th gen Prelude had a lots of variations depending on the market it was selling for. The problem is that we had to be so unlucky to get some of these variations. So I'm going to cut the crap and focus only on two fastest models - the Type S and SiR S Spec. These two chaps got classic VTEC engines boosted to even higher level of power, making these Preludes the ultimate models of the entire Prelude production. Once again, these were only limited to Japan. Odd, in spite of topping the rest of the range, these models did not have a four-wheel steering. Good. That just means it will make my job easier as I won't need to spend my precious time looking at their rear wheels, whether they are turning or not. But what is the difference between these two models anyway? Is there anything? At first shot you might think, naaaawwww, it can't be, but yes, there is something. There is one little detail that changes everything. While the SiR had a standard LSD, the Type S had what Honda calls ATTS or Active Torque Transfer System. And what does the ATTS do? I didn't know and I wasn't going to find out until I realized this particular model could be equipped with a Yaw controller. SAY WHAT?! I thought only the Mitsubishi Evolution models could get those. Now that made me curious, so I went on the internet to see what the system really does and why would AYC represent ATTS. In a nutshell, the ATTS sends torque to the wheel that has better traction in order to improve cornering and reduce understeer. At first it doesn't seem like a necessity considering the Prelude wasn't a bad car to start with, but then you find out that this particular model had a 63-37 weight distribution, which was a considerable increase in front bias over the previous model. I guess this was a good reasoning for the engineers. People who have driven it said the car indeed drove better than the regular Prelude, and that the effect was mostly noticeable on long corners with throttle partially or fully opened. For the first time in my life with this car, I was really eager to try it out! How it will handle in GT2? Will it be a master piece? Will we be able to tune the Yaw thingy? No. You can't tune the Yaw thing, it's always locked to 1 and you can't change it. As a matter of fact, it doesn't really matter whether you install the part or not, it doesn't seem to change the way the car handles. Great, thanks for letting me know on time, before I wasted like 8 grand on nothing! While the Yaw thing doesn't change the car's handling, the car still drives different from the SiR. Quicker turn-ins, higher resistance to understeer when throttle is opened, and a nice portion of oversteer. This is one of those front-wheel cars you can drift without applying handbrake or doing crazy maneuvers with the steering wheel. It is cool to see, and fun to try out, but at the cost of cornering speed if the angle at which the car goes around the apex is too wide. Although the SiR generally suffers from more understeer, on several circumstances it will be faster because it is more straight forward to drive. It also gets all the benefits from being several kilos lighter. All in all, this was fun, the Type S was particularly satisfactory to drive. Naturally, I wanted more, so instead of doing another set of laps, I paid a little visit to the Front-wheel race cup. I heard you can win a brand new Mugen Type S model there, which made my really curious. If the standard model was great, what could Mugen do to it to make it even better? At one point I was really having problems suppressing my happiness, so I quickly went for a ride after winning it from the race. Guess what, my expectations evaporated so quickly it was like they never existed. The first thing that bothers me is the appearance. Couldn't they do a little more to the car to make it stand out? Until you notice that big front bumper, it looks just like the standard Projud, it's hardly evidentable anything was done on the car. The side decals are nice touch, but they are hardly apparent if you're not paying attention. And then we have the handling. I wanted to see it supporting the Yaw upgrade, but NO, you can't install it. It's not a huge loss given it probably wouldn't change jack sh**, but still.... In addition, it drives nothing like the standard Type S. It's actually more like the SiR, but with even higher level of understeer. Needles to say, this one didn't impress me at all and I regret driving it. Anyway, that's all there is about Prelude. Interesting cars, and quite powerful as far as tuning is considered. I would recommend them anyday at any time if only there wasn't another car that does everything slightly better. INTEGRA Yeah, it's the Integra. What can I say, it's a great car. For long time it was considered to be one of the most critically acclaimed front-wheel drive cars of its time, thanks to its high rigidity and almost complete absence of understeer. We could argue that cars with more power or better looks existed, but when it all came down to handling, nothing could compare to the Integra. The standard Type R is a beast and half, but I'm going to say right away the Mugen version based on it is the model you really need. To my surprise, it drives so much better than the standard model, almost as Mugen thought the standard one just wasn't good enough. Body roll doesn't exist and the chassis posses rigidity of the highest standards. It would be so easy to mistake the Mugen Integra for a race car once you see with your own eyes how far it can be pushed in corners. In accordance with Mugen's typical standards of medium discretion, engineers applied some nice little details to the exterior to make the car recognizable. It looks okay, though I wasn't paying attention on that as much as I did on the color selection. This Mugen model comes with multiple colors, and that makes me really happy. As an overall package, it can't get any better than this. After so many mediocre Mugen models I'm so happy I found one that really is an improvement over a standard car. I think it could only be surpassed by the Spoon Integra, but at the time of writing this review, I still wasn't able to get my hands on it, so I can't draw any conclusions on that part. ACCORD Okay, let's wrap the first half of the miscellaneous lineup with the Accord. Much like several other notable estates from that period, the Accord received needed publicity for its lively performance in touring championships around the globe. I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty good sign busy fathers won't be destined for any sort of crap when they decide to blow off some steam on the road. Unlike the Civic Ferio squad, the Accords can receive much better power upgrades, which makes them more useful on the long run. The game features several models, all of which start off with enough power and good handling. The creme of the crop is the European Type R model. It's the most unique Accord in the series, overshadowed only by its Euro-R siblings that would appear from GT3 onwards. The handling is sharp and responsive, the chassis can follow your commands easily, which makes controlling understeer child's play. The engine feels a bit drowsy at lower revs, but this doesn't seem to affect speed or acceleration. Remember this is a high-rev engine, no matter how good or bad it may be, fitting in a closer gearbox will always be a next good thing. Overall, great car, but with bad color selection. You can only get yours in black or that stupid dark cherry red. Why? I know the Type R had better, brighter colors, like clear red and white, so... why these?! Most certainly they do not present the car in best light. I thought the '98 SiR model would be a decent alternative for the Type R since it's not much different in terms of power-to-weight ratio. But a quick run around Trial Mountain showed me the reality. This is nothing like the Type R, it's utterly different as a matter of fact. The suspension is softer, the car seats 2 centimeters higher, and body roll just waits for you to mess up so that it can kick in. The difference in lap times was around 2 seconds, for God sake. I'm sure it would handle better with a basic suspension upgrade, but the Type R model being available for free, I don't see why would you even consider doing such a thing. Perhaps if you wanted to make an accurate BTCC replica (as that is what you CAN do) but at that point we're talking about serious tuning anyway, realm where every Accord can be tuned to match the Type R, and that's not the point After one disappointment comes another, this time with a Mugen badge over it. Great, all the great memories the Integra and I shared together will now be flashed like a turd blended with warm piss. Anyway, the Mugen SiR. First, the appearance. I got mine in blue with gold rims. It was supposed to look good, but it never succeeded leaving any impression on me. I guess you can't do much magic to inconspicuous and modest-looking car the Accord is without going into dark zone of poor tastes. It drives better than the standard SiR because of the stiffer springs, but it still has that composed nature of its relative. Couldn't they at least lower that height, at least 1 cm, so that we can get better response? Noooo, instead YOU have to be the one doing tune-ups. What a bunch of lazy, overpaid jacks. Well, I got it for free, so I guess I shouldn't really complain... What's next? Ah, yes, the 5th generation model. I always kinda thought this was one of the better looking Accord models. From a perspective of a guy residing in Europe, this is what an Accord should look like. And because it grew on me so quickly, I ended up swimming in tears after seeing Polyphony crippled the estate model with unnecessary increase in weight. 1490 kilos? Please, that is just absurd, how could they overlook such mistake?! Even the wagon version is lighter, for crying out loud, EVEN THE WAGON IS LIGHTER!! No wonder I couldn't match cornering speeds of its successors. For the first time driving on Trial Mountain with an Accord, I had to occasionally tap on brakes and slow down appropriately. Releasing the throttle or turning the steering wheel tighter just wasn't enough. We just mentioned the wagon version. Thankfully, they haven't messed up that one, it is a true-to-life replica. From certain angles it looks even better than the estate, and with the weight being lower, it really gives you a good argument to choose it over the estate. There is only one problem that stands in your way, a very annoying one at that. You see, Honda knew there was no logical reason not to make the wagon version as spicy as the estate, so they fitted it with a powerful engine, you know, the one from the estate. So, if their intention was to turn it into something truly unique, how could they possibly even think about coupling that beauty with a 4-speed automatic transmission?! WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?! At first I thought that was just another Polyphony baloney, but no, this time Honda is to blame. The wagon version apparently never came out with a 5-speed manual transmission. Why? Why would they do that, why would they mount a powerful, proven engine down there, make the car handle as some of the best estates around and then ruin everything with a poor choice of gearbox? The last thing a high-rev engine needs is a pedestrian gearbox with a very few gears aligned in a poor way, unworthy of the SiR badge. Luckily, the handling is good, though slightly stiffer front springs add some understeer that otherwise wouldn't be present. Shocked by the nonsense the 4-speed gearbox is, I decided to bail out and jump straight into the '98 wagon model, only to meet the same problem again! Again, what is the point of putting in a powerful engine if you kill half of its potential with such gearbox?! Thank God we can install an aftermarket gearbox and fix the problem as it never existed, otherwise this would be a joke. So, what can we say about the new model? IT IS UGLY AS HELL, that's what we can say, at least when judging its back. And it's not really an improvement over its predecessor either. It's not holding back on power, I give it that, but it doesn't drive any better than the '96 model, nor it is any faster than the '96 model. I don't know why I always expect improvements with every new generation, maybe that's a reasonable thing to expect, new should always be better, right? You would think Mugen would have enough courtesy to avoid touching the standard wagon, but no, they did the exact opposite. They made an upgrade. Once again I'm stunned how much of discretion these guys can tolerate when altering the exterior. If you get yours in black or any other dark color, you won't be able to tell it apart from the standard wagon. Hell, it's hard to do it even when both models are in white. Only recently I realized there is a stripe on each of its side panels. The exhaust sound is just rubbish, you can barely hear the engine working. It does drive better since it has better springs, though. It also seems to be slightly faster, but only because the red line isn't positioned next to the peak power figure, it leaves like 1000 rpm of space more for revving, which translates to more efficient usage of power as the area within which needle moves when shifting a gear is now closer to the engine's peak power zone. Still, in spite of all the improvements - which I wouldn't call them so - it remains to be so similar to the standard model that it blows your mind. Couldn't they do more of a change, like replacing that stupid 4-speed gearbox with something useful? That would be cool. All in all, the Mugen version is better, but only by an inch. It is supposed to be a cooler version of the standard model, but near the '96 wagon model, you can only look like a jackass, Mugen or no Mugen. If you want more weirdness, pick the VTL thing. Yeah, it's another '98 wagon model - as the last two weren't enough - and this one has a four-wheel drive system. At first I thought it would get in my way, but then I figured out it actually affects your driving even when the car is stock. Understeer is kept under control and you can even toss it around corners more efficiently. This would be okay Accord, if only it wasn't so slow. Why only 167 horsepower? If they already wanted to fit in the powerful 2.2 liter engine, why limits its potential, would 20 horsepower more really make that much of a difference? You can't imagine how much of a bother is to drive such heavy and underpowered car with that 4-speed gearbox, you just can't imagine! That's all for now, stay tuned for part II!