Shortly after the eight-valve came a 16V, its default torque split between axles now rear-biased instead the front bias of the original. It was one reason why it was a techier, more highly-strung drive, probably quicker in the right conditions and the right driver but not as friendly as the eight-valve. In the earlier car you and it were in the groove together; in the 16V, it was your wits against its wits.
Then the bodywork and wheels grew wider again, power eventually peaked at 215bhp, and in 1993 it all ended. The final Evo versions, most powerful and most aggressive of all and the least nimble to drive, are highly prized by those who assume they must be the best. Low-milers are sometimes offered for sale at six-figure prices. It's extraordinary, even allowing for all that World Rally Championship glory.
There's an emperor wearing new clothes here, in the same way, that less-exalted Integrales have too often had lower, stiffer suspension and large amounts of extra turbo boost inflicted on them: Too much of what the emperor-watchers regard as a good thing is no longer good. My memory always told me that, on the road at least, the original eight-valve Integrale, in standard factory specification, was always the nicest of the lot. Yet it has always been the cheapest because it's the least cool.
So, after a two-decade gap, I drove an eight-valve again. It was a high-miler and looked careworn, but its owner (who races) assured me it was fit. Oh, my. It was absolutely, stonkingly brilliant, even better than I remembered. It annihilated damp, sinuous roads with its quick, ultra-precise, ultra-feelsome steering telling me everything that was happening under the wheels. It was simultaneously stuck to the road and eager to flick wherever I wanted it to flick, it would even do a gentle drift under power in the friendliest, most confidence-inspiring way.