2023 Acura Integra First Drive Review: Just what we wanted

AUSTIN, Texas — Getting caught up within the hype machine of retired automotive names pulling a Tom Brady is straightforward to do today — there are so many examples to level at, and so they simply maintain coming. The 2023 Acura Integra provides to this rising checklist. Expectations are excessive; unreasonably excessive if you happen to take heed to web commenters.

A whole era grew up, obtained their driver’s licenses and graduated highschool in what we’ll name the Integra Drought that started when the final Acura Integra rolled off the road for the 2001 mannequin yr. And whereas Acura likes to think about the 2002-2006 RSX because the “fourth era” because it was referred to as Integra abroad, it’s significant that it was not referred to as that right here in america. You possibly can inform how significant it’s by observing how huge of a deal Acura is treating the revival of the “Integra” identify at the moment — at this level, you’ve absolutely seen considered one of its quite a few commercials. Briefly, it symbolizes Acura’s critical return to a small, sporty and enthusiast-focused compact automotive. The outgoing ILX by no means captured the zeitgeist of sport compacts within the 2010s, and it light into the background of a a lot bigger and higher small luxurious automotive scene. It wasn’t an Integra, and Acura by no means pretended that it was. 

To type out what the brand new 2023 Integra is and isn’t, Autoblog despatched me (a longtime and present 2001 Acura Integra GS-R proprietor) to Austin, Texas, the place I used to be in a position to drive it within the metropolis, on wide-open Texas highways and thru winding switchbacks. In contrast to some new Acura fashions that had been largely developed within the U.S., the Integra was developed in Japan. The design was dealt with on the Wako Studio outdoors of Tokyo, engineering work was carried out in Tochigi. In the meantime, manufacturing is completely happening in Marysville, Ohio, on the identical line because the TLX. Lots of these concerned within the growth of the brand new Integra additionally labored on earlier generations of the automotive, so you possibly can belief that Acura/Honda developed the brand new one with its historical past being top-of-mind.

Similar to Integras of the previous, all the things begins with the Civic. It shares a 107.7-inch wheelbase with the Civic, as each vehicles experience on the corporate’s International Small Automobile Structure. Nonetheless, don’t assume that the Integra is only a Civic Hatchback with an Acura badge on it. Each single physique panel on the automotive is 100% unique to the Integra, and the automotive’s total size and width are bigger than any Civic — it’s 6.8 inches longer than the Civic Hatchback and 1.8 inches longer than the Sedan. Additionally on the plus facet for the Integra is its stiffness. The brand new construction and design simply occur to make the automotive 5% extra inflexible total versus a Civic Hatchback and a couple of% extra inflexible than the Sedan.

After all, the Civic that almost all will probably be evaluating the Integra to is the Si mannequin on account of the 2 sharing a powertrain: a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. It has a fats torque curve, producing most twist from 1,800-5,000 rpm, and redline is an affordable 6,500 rpm. The VTEC scream of yesteryear is not any extra, however Acura remains to be utilizing VTEC for the exhaust valves, and in contrast to many small displacement turbo engines, this one sprints by the ultimate 1,000 rpm with addicting eagerness. There isn’t any lack of accelerative drive on the high of the tach, which makes utilizing the complete rev vary all of the extra satisfying.

If this new Integra is handled something like earlier generations, the inventory exhaust might not be lengthy for the world. Nonetheless, Acura developed a novel “coil-type” exhaust for the Integra to present it just a little additional growl at higher rpm. In apply, the noise is fairly quiet and understated, and it gained’t flip many heads under 5,000 rpm. Inside, the exhaust combines with Acura’s “Lively Sound Management” system (supplemental pretend noise by the audio system) to supply sufficient quantity to maintain one entertained, but it surely may nonetheless use extra drama.

The one finest function to speak about right here is the Integra’s six-speed guide transmission, which is completely an possibility on Integras with the range-topping A-Spec Know-how package deal. In typical Honda vogue, there’s merely no higher guide transmission to shift at its worth level. From the second my hand fell to the small, exact shift knob, my mind traveled again in time to the very good shifter of the RSX Sort S. Acura up to date the expertise for 2022 with auto rev-matching that conveniently blips the throttle for you on downshifts. That is simply turned off by the infotainment system if you happen to’d fairly rev-match your self. Assuming you respect an distinctive guide transmission shifting expertise — and two-thirds of Integra pre-orders are for the guide — then you definately’re going to like this.

In the event you haven’t heard already, the controversial different shifting (or fairly, lack of shifting) expertise is through a constantly variable transmission. In Acura’s protection, the automated Integra has all the time been a bore versus the guide, so historical past is a minimum of on its facet. It additionally offers one thing the manual-only Civic Si doesn’t. Then again, “historical past” and “a minimum of it exists” are fairly awful excuses for providing the Civic’s CVT as a solution to the VW GTI/GLI’s dual-clutch DSG. Of us will rightfully word that the ILX really had an eight-speed dual-clutch and marvel why the extra enthusiast-oriented Integra doesn’t get such an enthusiast-oriented automated? 

Acura says the CVT meets the efficiency targets for what it wished out of the automated, and for what it’s price, a minimum of it’s one of many higher CVTs available on the market. Acura programmed in “steps” to imitate shifting by seven gears, and also you’re in a position to “manually” choose these steps through paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Neither operate is exclusive, however they’re appreciated. So is the CVT’s capacity to bounce the revs up greater as you decelerate or go downhill, a lot as a extra performance-oriented automated would. Preliminary begins with the CVT are just a little sluggish, however as soon as up to the mark, it responds shortly to throttle functions and paddle pulls. 

So these are explanation why the CVT’s not so dangerous, now listed below are extra explanation why it is best to nonetheless persist with the stick. A helical limited-slip differential is a manual-exclusive that pays huge dealing with dividends. You additionally get a novel light-weight flywheel that improves throttle response.

The performance-minded must also instill “A-Spec” into their minds for different causes apart from it being the one strategy to row your individual gears. In comparison with the bottom “Integra” trim, the A-Spec nets you a barely bigger rear stabilizer bar (18 mm versus 17.5 mm), a barely revised steering ratio and bigger 18-inch wheels and 235-section-width tires — the bottom Integra comes with 17-inch wheels and 215-section-width tires. Pony up for the “A-Spec with Know-how Package deal,” and also you get the selection of transmission, the highly-desirable adaptive dampers, the aforementioned Lively Sound Management system and a customizable “Particular person” mode that permits you to program a personalised mode setup throughout the varied features Acura enables you to change.

The place the Integra goes above and past the Civic Si is the addition of these adaptive dampers to the choice checklist. The previous-generation Civic Si made adaptive dampers normal gear, however they’re fully lacking from the present mannequin. Coincidence? We predict not. 

Acura solely had “A-Spec with Know-how Package deal” vehicles obtainable to check out (each guide and CVT), so I obtained to drive the Integra in its most aggressive kind. Having been supremely impressed with the brand new base Civic and Si already, it got here as no shock that the Integra can be a superb driving machine. Flip in from the Integra’s variable-ratio electrical steering rack is fast, and the lengthy hatchback feels gentle on its toes. Curb weight for the guide A-Spec fashions is simply 3,073 kilos, which is 121 kilos greater than the Civic Si — not a horrible penalty for all the additional luxuries and utility.

Chassis engineers remained devoted to the outdated Integra by permitting for just a little lift-throttle oversteer. It by no means feels harmful, however the playfulness is there if you happen to go searching for it. Engineers additionally restrained themselves when it got here to tuning the adaptive dampers. Even deciding on the stiffest “Sport” setting leaves you with a pleasantly compliant experience. There’s better composure and rather less physique lean in Sport, however its rigidity gained’t unsettle the automotive over dicey bits of pavement. The Integra, even in its spiciest kind, is not any observe automotive out of the field. As an alternative, it’s set as much as excel at spirited backroad carving. The all-season tires provide loads of grip and stability to make the automotive really feel sporty on the street, however they gained’t result in eye-popping skidpad numbers. The brake pedal is sufficiently stiff and responsive, however 15 to twenty minutes of onerous on-road use was its restrict earlier than the primary trace of fade arrived.

And whereas it’s straightforward to get caught up in efficiency, it’s necessary to do not forget that this automotive shouldn’t be solely extra luxurious than a Civic Si, however presents extra utility as nicely due to its hatchback physique fashion. Though the second- and third-generation four-door Integras had been conventional sedans, the 2022 Integra takes after the original-generation 4 door and each two-door (together with the RSX) with its sloping liftback-style trunk. Eagle eyes will discover the notch you stick your hand in is basically an identical to the RSX’s liftback notch. The odd design makes lifting heavier objects up and over the rear bumper annoying, however your whole area is a win. Cargo room behind the foldable seats is 24.3 cubic-feet, which is almost an identical to the Civic Hatchback and corresponding to many small SUVs. 

Audio fiends would possibly discover the improve to the Integra over a comparable Civic worthwhile only for the 16-speaker ELS Studio sound system. For a compact luxurious automotive, it’s astounding how good this method sounds. The obtainable head-up show, a lot nicer Acura seats and higher-class inside trim are only a few different key causes to go for the Integra over the Civic. Additionally price noting are all of the options that carry over, together with the obtainable 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system – versus the controversial True Touchpad system present in different Acuras. Becoming a member of it are wi-fi Apple CarPlay and wi-fi Android Auto, a ten.2-inch digital instrument panel, a wide selection of USB ports (each in back and front) and a full suite of ordinary driver help techniques that even work with the guide. 

My solely gripe concerning the Integra’s styling is the dearth of Indy Yellow paint within the palette of paint choices. It’s lengthy, extensive, glossy and purposeful. And no, it’s not a coupe, however c’mon, what number of of you’ll’ve purchased a coupe? There’s a motive Honda discontinued the Civic Si coupe this time round – nobody was shopping for them. The brand new Integra is precisely what it must be, and it begins at a a lot greater efficiency level than any earlier Integra did. Asking $36,895 for the guide A-Spec mannequin you need is an enormous bump over the Civic Si’s worth of $28,315 (the bottom Integra begins at $31,895). In my guide, although, that’s cash nicely spent on official upgrades over the Honda. The brand new Integra is each devoted to the unique and, due to the inevitable march of progress, higher than ever earlier than.


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