A Type R from the UK - the Honda CH1 Accord Type R

1998 Honda Accord Type R (CH1)

Oddly Honda's attention turned to the UK market for the next Type R. Now this was beginning to look like a marketing exercise than something the engineers cooked up for the sole purpose of racing(BTCC). A Honda Accord? Were they kidding? But it had all the right ingredients- lightened, high revving VTEC motor, sports suspension and Championship white. This was probably softer than the Japanese Type R genre but in the interim Honda had set up a manufacturing base in UK jointly run with Rover.

 

The engine was the H22A 2.2-litre VTEC with 212 bhp but was red-lined at 7500 rpm about 1000 rpm less than the B18A and the later 2.0-litre K20A Type R engines. What was useful was the added torque of around 220 Nm. This was in hope it appealed to European tastes which typically does not include a screaming 8500 rpm motor especially considering the Accord market. This was Honda's attempt at lifting the staidly image of their products which were appealing mainly to OAPs.

In a surprise move Honda introduced the Accord Euro R at the same time to further confuse the market instead of a Japanese Accord Type R. Of course this was a ploy to defray the costs of the bespoke 220 PS H22A engine but we wondered if this could be a real Type R. The differences between the Euro R and Accord Type R is more like the relationship between the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS.

While the ITR’s B18C is canted slightly forward, the H22A of the Accord has a rearward cant and the engine seems to be mounted well back into the engine bay as if to get better front to rear weight distribution. Perhaps it also allows a straighter intake path than the B18C and there are no variable intake runners that detract from high rpm power. Instead short, straight intake runners are employed for high rpm breathing like the B18C. The pentroof combustion chamber benefits from the wider 87mm bore, allowing bigger valves to be used. The compression ratio is 11.0:1 down just 0.1 from the B18C. The corollary of all this is an output of 220 bhp at 7200 rpm and 221 Nm of torque at 6700 pm.

Mated to this engine is a slick 5-speed short throw gearbox with taller gearing than the ITR. However, it is still geared to get to 100 km/h at the end of 2nd gear taking about 6.7 seconds. Showing less notchiness than the one in the ITR and it is in keeping with the overall refined character of the Euro R. In fact it is quite an eye opener how it gets up to speeds so quietly. The ITR is like a screaming banshee in comparison but you always feel you are going fast as you are so immersed with the sounds of the engine and road noise. Noise insulation in the Euro R is far better but the subdued engine note is a purposeful, refined growl rather than a howl. Oddly enough the engine note is more musical on the inside than outside.

As with the Integra Type R, the Accord chassis receives strengthening at strategic points. The most obvious is the engine bay cross brace. It not just connects the strut tower tops which provides limited improvement, it is also attached to the front bulkhead via a pair of short links, triangulating the left and right strut towers with the bulkhead providing far more rigidity. Not so noticeable are a pair reinforced forward boxed sections that connect the bulkhead to the front of the car. Just behind the B-pillars is a reinforced rib section that stretches the entire width of the rear floor plan. Finally there are a couple of rear cross braces that instead of connecting the strut towers, braces the rear parcel area behind the C-pillar and the floor. These reinforcements improve the chassis rigidity significantly and the car is noticeably tight and secure during cornering and over bumpy or undulating roads. The brakes have been uprated to Honda’s largest 300mm ventilated discs in front and 282 mm at the back.

The reviews of the Accord Type R were all positive and many ranked this the best Honda that has ever reached Europe. Honda sold around 500 units but deemed it a failure of sorts and pulled the plug on the Accord Type R. The H22A engine and gearbox was used in the Accord Euro-R, Prelude and Accord Type R but sales volume was still insufficient for profits. The Accord Euro R however was considered a success in the JDM market and prompted Honda to further streamline the development of Euro R to use the next generation K20A engine in a better coordinated plan.

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