In the world of Honda performance, the B16 is one of the most legendary engines ever produced. At the time it blew most of the competition away and even today it still offers a ridiculous amount of horsepower per liter naturally aspirated. The B16A is the most common B16 engine, but Honda also built the B16B for Civic Type R, and today we’re going to find out what the differences are and which one is better.
Before we dive into the differences of each engine, we should briefly cover the basics of the B-Series and B16. As you may already know, the B16 is a 1.6-liter engine within Honda’s B-Series engine family. As a whole, the B-Series and the B16 are designed as Honda’s “performance” engine at the time and it was offered alongside the D-Series which was their economy engine for the time
Every single Honda B16 has a bore of 81mm and a stroke of 77.4mm. Most of them have a compression ratio of 10.2:1 and most of them produce near or above 100hp per liter. Every single variant of the B16 uses Honda’s VTEC system which is in-part what allows them to produce as much power as they do.
Variants of the B16A include the B16A, B16A1, B16A2, B16A3, B16A5, and B16A6. Some variants of the B16A use an OBD0, OBD1, or OBD2 computer system. Every single version of the B16A uses the same architect and all-aluminum design. Depending on what year the engine built, it will either be a 1st generation or second generation B16A.
The difference between B16A variants and generations is mostly the design of the pistons, compression ratio, camshaft profile, ECU tuning, and electronics. All the different variants are very similar, so for the rest of the article we aren’t going to discuss any specific B16A variants, rather we’ll just about B16A lineup as a whole.
Honda built the B16B for use the 1997 to 2000 Civic Type R. The B16B offers significantly more power than any B16A variant, and the B16B is incredibly similar to the B16A, however, there are some major differences. The biggest most important difference between the B16A and the B16B is the cylinder block. While all B16As use the same block and architect, the B16B uses the cylinder block and architect of the B18C from the Integra Type R.
The B18C block has much taller deck height and longer stroke than the B16A, so to maintain the same 1.6L of displacement on the B16B, Honda destroked the engine. The taller deck height forced Honda to use a different rod to stroke ratio on the B16B compared to the B16A. The B16B uses a different crankshaft, pistons, rods, and cylinder head than the B16A.
The B16B also received hand porting and polishing for the cylinder head, which is a very time-consuming process but ultimately allows the B16B head to flow more air than any B16A head. The B16B also received different valve springs, spark plugs, intake valves, camshaft, intake manifold, and a higher redline.
All of these things combined are what allows the B16B to make around 180hp from the factory without the use of forced induction. With some basic math, you can see this equals about 112hp per liter. This was extremely impressive for the time, and it’s still an impressive feat today.
When you compare the two engines, it’s pretty obvious that the B16B is the better engine on paper, but you might have noticed that every change found on the B16B can be applied to the B16A. For example, if you were to take a B16A, add more camshafts, cylinder head porting and polishing, and some ECU tuning, you can probably outperform the B16B.
Pricing and Availability
You might notice that most Hondas that have a B16 engine swapped into them use a B16A, even though the B16B is the better engine. This partially because of availability and pricing. Where the B16A was used in multiple vehicles over the course a decade, the B16B was only used in one application for three years. It’s not too hard to find a second-hand B16B engine, however, it will be significantly more expensive than a B16A engine.
If you hop on eBay or go to your local JDM engine supplier, you can probably find a handful of B16A engines for around $2,000 or a bit more. Compared to a B16B which can easily $3,500 or more. All that extra money for an increase in power which can be matched with aftermarket performance parts makes the B16B quite a bit less popular for engine swaps.
So, there you have it, that’s pretty much all the differences between the B16A and the B16B. It’s pretty obvious that the B16B is the better engine in stock form, but for many people, a modified B16A might end up being a better solution for the application.