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Honda del Sol

GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

red_delsol.jpeg

Years Represented: 1992-1995

Class: Sport Compact

Type: Targa

Country: Japan ````````````````````````````````````````` Host: GT1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Price as Tested: $8,138 ('93 Si in GT2)
                         $12,159 ('92 SiR in GT5)

Body Construction: unit steel

Length: 157" // Width: 66.7" // Height: 49.4"
Wheelbase: 93.3"
Overhang: 5'4"
Track: 58.1" [F] 57.7" [R]
Weight: 2,254 lbs. (GT2), 2,425 (GT5)
Ground Clearance: 5.5"
Tires: 195/55-15
Brakes: vented discs / solid discs
Suspension: double wishbones / coils / anti-roll bars
Layout: Front Engine / Front Drive

The car in GT5 had oil change but no engine rebuild

Engine: 1.6 liter DOHC inline-4
                            GT2                           GT5
Tested BHP: 165 @ 7,700 rpm          163 @ 8,000
Tstd Torque: 115 @ 7,000 rpm         113 @ 7,000

Lbs. per HP:      13.66                             14.88 
HP per Liter:     103.5                             102.1
Credits per HP: $49.32                            $74.75

Aspiration: normal
Valves per Cyl: 4
Compression: 10.4:1
Bore x Stroke: 3.18 x 3.09"

GT2 Redline: 8,000 // Rev Limit: 9,000
GT5 Idle: 800 // Redline: 8,000 // RPM Limit: 8,500

Transmission: 5-speed automatic (GT2) 5-speed manual (GT5)

                     GT2                          GT5
0-60 mph: 8.7 seconds                9.390
0-100mph: 22.2 seconds             21.758

400 M: 16.514 @ 87 mph          17.269 @ 88 mph
1 KM:
29.838 @ 114 mph          30.169 @ 116 mph

Test Track: 1:52.416                    1:02.716 (Daytona)

Top Speed at Redline (GT2)
1st: 38 mph
2nd: 59 mph
3rd: 85 mph
4th: 113 mph
5th: 156.64 mph (8,600 rpms)

Top Speed at Redline (GT5)
1st: 38.2 mph
2nd: 60.6
3rd: 82.8
4th: 109.8
5th: 150.1 mph @ 8,250 rpm

-----------------------EXTERIOR------------------------

Hey. Want a great-handling car while saving some bucks? Look no further than the Honda dealership! If YOU have a job, a checking account, and have been cleared of all felony charges, the plaid-wearing salesguy is ready to strike a deal for NO MONEY DOWN and NO CREDIT CHECK. Let's step inside.

Here we have one of the underdogs of Gran Turismo. Let's face it, the del Sol is not always chosen over its famous cousin, the Civic hatchback. This is true in the game or in real-life. Not that the del Sol is a bad car..in some ways it is slightly superior to the Civic, matter of fact. The del Sol is also known as the "Civic del Sol", since it is based on the Civic platform. Sometimes, it is also called the "CR-X del Sol", and sometimes, the "Civic CR-X del Sol". Confusing. Whatever we call it, the Honda del Sol went on sale to replace the CR-X in 1992, although neither car made great sales. In America, just 75,000 del Sols were sold from 1993 till its death in 1998.

There are several models in our games. GT1 and GT2 both have S and Si versions, while GT2 adds the '95 SiR, Mugen Pro. III and a VGi version. The S has a 1.5 liter engine in real-life, with 13" steel wheels, while the Si has a slightly larger 1.6 and 14" alloys, which are lighter than the S car's steel wheels. The VGi is apparently not any better than the S--at best, both have about 184 horses, yet the VGi winds up weighing slightly more. The SiR and the Si eventually can make about the same power in GT2 (245-ish hp), but since the SiR winds up weighing about 120 pounds more with full upgrades, the Si winds up being the best buy. There is also a fantasy car: the highly-sought Honda del Sol LM, which appears in GT1 and 2, but doesn't appear in later games.

 In GT3, 4, and 5, PD scaled way back, and no longer offers as many del Sols. Now we have the '92 Honda del Sol SiR, which features a VTEC engine, and that's it. It is the top-line version, the King of the del Sols, so perhaps PD and/or Honda didn't feel the need to offer anything less. 

Any del Sol in any game boasts lines that are vaguely Italian, yet definitely still Japanese. A pure Italian design would have something weird about it, after all, and though the del Sol is not 'weird', it is also not ordinary. Body overhangs are minimal, the shape is jelly-beany-cute rather than threatening or intimidating. This is a chick car, big time. Despite this, the del Sol is not bad in the handling department, and is all about hugging the road. We've got a lot of lateral stability here, while cornering. Recently I got behind the wheel of an LM edition, which is an entirely different ballgame -- like comparing a bicycle to a spaceship, yet even the LM shares the civilian car's habit of road-gripping.

As far as front-drive sports cars go, the del Sol is one of the easiest to drive, making it optimum for a beginner. Really, any low-powered Hondas will do for an absolute beginner, but the del Sol is only 49" tall, and maneuvers a little better than a Civic hatchback since it doesn't lean as much thru corners in some games, and offers some extra stability over bumps, due to some extra weight the hatch does not usually have. Even if somebody has never driven a single videogame car ever in his/her life, chances are that person could eventually handle a del Sol, which makes the chances of learning more demanding cars later on both desireable and also familiar...after all, what was your first car in real-life? Chances are it was some cheap hand-me-down, right? You didn't just jump into an intimidating turbo-driven death machine, did you? ... So rests my case that this Honda (among several other front-drive econocars)  is perfect for n00bs in Gran Turismo.

For the experienced driver, the del Sol can be fun to drive amongst other under-powered autos on days when you don't feel like tearing around courses at breakneck speeds. Its small size and drama-free handling can be a plus when trying to squeeze thru a group of sim cars as the road twists and turns.

Like the CR-X, the del Sol was in production for just a few short years. It looks tasteful and distinctive (the del Sol does), can be bought used or new quite affordably (depends which game you have: GT3 hasn't got a used car lot, while GT4 & 5 feature only used del Sols). Even in GT5, where the price of an SiR has now risen from four figures to five, this one doesn't cost that much more than some other JDMs from its era. This car also comes in a variety of colors. Its medium-light weight is a major bonus. If it weren't so under-powered, weight reductions wouldn't be necessary; but as things are, it could lose some weight in GT1. I imagine that any of the del Sols in later games won't need pounds taken off immediately, since these cars have more of a chance of competing successfully in more early race series.

Finally, for those who have managed to win the del Sol LM, I'm sure few were displeased. If you haven't won and driven it, trust me...it is as good as all the rumors say. It is unfortunately (for me) too easy to win races in this car, which has one of the lowest power-to-weight ratios in any GT game. Somewhere in the Top 10. So whenever I hear of someone winning winning winning in a del Sol LM, all I can think is cheater cheater cheater. The LM can be challenging if it's raced on stock or sports tires, but it handles and grips so well, displaying hardly any mid-engine behavior at all, sometimes even this limit seems too easy...especially during enduros. In comparison, the Honda S2000 GT1 is a bit more of a challenge to drive on these tires. Sheesh.

...Uh, I think I went off topic. The salesdude is handing us some sort of brochure on racing. Let's pay attention.

 

crx_proiii.jpeg
Mugen CR-X del Sol Pro. III

--------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------------

Now we need to break out the pocket-book, wallet, Visa card...whatever you got. It's time to unload some dough. The initial purchase (the car itself) may have been a blue-light special bargain, but it won't always be cheap to upgrade in the long run.

The del Sol S engine (GT1 & 2) will rev nice and high, but lacks both torque and power. Zero to 60 mph in 10.9 seconds is below average, even for a front-drive. Zero to 100 mph in 22.4 seconds, plus the car's top speed of 143 mph are okay, but can use some help. The Si, in comparison, reaches 60 in 8.7 seconds, 100 mph in 22.2 seconds, and can make a top speed of 156 miles per hour. Better... yet still lacking.

Depending which model and game, the engine can be tuned to NA Stage 2 or 3 (no turbos, unfortunately), but to do so requires that we shell out over $80,000 in the first game for full Stage 2 tuning. For some, it might be best to just leave the del Sol at Stage 1 and buy a faster car with all the money saved! The del Sol Si, SiR, or VGi start with more initial power, simply because their motors have better valve gas/airflow, so these are better buys for those wanting more speed. Obviously. Duh.

In GT1, intake / exhaust equipment can be changed, but anything past the sports level is a waste of money for anyone but Honda lovers, in my opinionated opinion. With Stage 2 tuning, sports parts, ROM computer chip, and other refinements, this 4-cylinder is only producing 161 hp, with a total of 114 ft-lbs. of torque! Which is fine for an up and coming driver, but it's just not very cost-effective to fully tune either the engine or the drivetrain, especially in GT1, since the car will barely be able to keep up in anything past the Clubman series of races unless someone's bank account gets drained.

Drivers who are racing these cars in GT2 will have more options...more opportunity to win money, so it makes sense to fully mod a del Sol in this game, but it still won't be cheap. GT3 won't give us the highest options. A del Sol SiR will only accept Stage 2 parts at the most--again, no turbos here. It can smash some Beginner's League races in this game (Sunday, Clubman, FF Series, Spiders & Roadsters, and NA Tune) but can't get much further.

The gearbox is a bit tall, which is great for overall speed, but I found my del Sol was constantly dropping below optimum torque during races before I put a close-ratio unit in. Closer gearing is spaced apart evenly in all games, and uses the engine's lack of power as efficiently as it can. The racing gearbox and more advanced drivetrain parts rarely become fully necessary. Personally, I like going the economical route here. Money saved is money earned, and all that.

 

--------------------CHASSIS / HANDLING-------------------

Here the del Sol is blessed. The suspension and its resulting mannerisms is all Honda, which means: mostly excellent. You can get away with using stock parts + 'normal' tires...maybe some soft stabilizers in the first game, and still win the Sunday Cup. Actually, a del Sol will win the Sunday in any GT game, with few (if any) modifications.

These cars will also compete in more advanced races if the driver is experienced and good at out-braking other cars, but this depends which game is being played. Hondas in Gran Turismo have great brakes, and the del Sol is no exception. Despite this, forget trying to race this car in the Gran Turismo 1 GT series or the GT2 Regionals, and good luck trying to win all the FF events in either game, too! The del Sol just doesn't have the power (without tens of thousands of credits dumped into the engine, that is). I'm not saying it's not possible to out-perform some of the faster cars (because it is), but personally I'd rather go for something with more initial speed.

In GT3 and 4, the del Sol gets an excellent start, roasting many Beginner's League events, yet (again) hasn't got power enough to follow through towards faster races as some Civics and Integras can. But whatever game you got, the pattern is: lots of early racing to be had in a cheap del Sol, and you won't need to spend much on the suspension, tires, or other parts to do it.

This car handles so well, it's difficult to get it to oversteer much, even with e-brake slides. The del Sol can really be pushed, and it'll just comply most of the time; partially since its power is never mighty. A diehard fan of Hondas might want to go for all the racing suspension parts, but the average Joe can lightly modify, and win quite a few young races. Nuthin' wrong with that. 

One problem this engine has is a habit of losing revs thru turns. Any bit of understeer (as I said, we won't hardly have to worry about oversteer) can result in a huge loss of power. Since it's a front-drive car, understeer does predominate. It's not the worst understeer ever or anything, but when it does show up, it destroys this car's otherwise stellar front-end grip and traction. There's a reason why the del Sol is featured in that annoyingly difficult GT1 B-license test...the one where we have to make that left turn at Deep Forest. It's not hard to win the bronze, but just try to win the silver...the freakin' GOLD! It requires little concentration to drive a del Sol thru turns, but to get it to drive EFFICIENTLY thru them without power loss is another story. It took me several hours to win the gold here. HOURS.

Brakes are adequte, like I said earlier. We can get away with never buying extra brake equipment, yet still be able to snub the competiton most of the time.

....Oh and here's a message from that annoying car salesman: “Have we made a deal?” Well, I'm sold.


 

lilac_delsol.jpg

--------------------------PROS-----------------------

1). Classic FWD car. Great for beginners.

2). Brakes, suspension, limited-slip, weight reductions, and sometimes tires are all secondary purchases for a Civic del Sol.

3). Tires are excellent, as mentioned. There's no need to upgrade till the engine is modified to Stage 1 in some games. It's debatable whether this car'll ever need racing slicks in GT2 or 3, if it's limited to lesser-power B and A license races or the Beginner's League. 

4). Excellent handling can make up for this car's lack of speed at times.

5). Low cost. Even del Sols from the new car lot are cheap.

6). Gearbox is balanced and easy, whether a standard or an automatic is chosen. Close or street gearing can be used for all of your racing endeavors.

7). Lots has been praised about the del Sol LM, which is one of the best cars in GT. I don't have much to add...it does rock.

8). GT1 and 2: any del Sol can be race-kitted, except the Mugen Pro III.

9). GT4: here we have a fuel-efficient choice.

 

---------------------------CONS-------------------

1). Poor acceleration. Overall speed is okay, but it takes awhile to get there.

2). Even mild understeer can kill exiting speed out of corners, which is where you'll need to push it most to survive at times.

3). High cost of some top-shelf Mugen engine parts doesn't guarantee an easy win for beginners or intermediates in advanced races. In GT1 it barely seems worth it to buy all the racing parts.

4). Some fancier color schemes would be nice. Real del Sols sometimes had pin-stripes and 2-tone options.

5). Low torque can make someone want to step on the gas all the time, even when they're about to understeer right off the course!

6). At low speeds, steering can be overly sensitive and grippy. At higher speeds...say hello to more understeer! 

7). The Mugen Pro. III prize in GT2 oddly can't be race-modified, and remains a couple hundred pounds heavier than other del Sols.


Published: June 19, 2004

GT4 content added: ?

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