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2023 Acura Integra Demonstrates the Peril of Excessive Expectations

UPDATE 6/22/2022: This evaluate has been up to date with take a look at outcomes for an Integra A-Spec handbook.

The way you view the brand new 2023 Acura Integra is all about context. By the rose-colored lens of nostalgia, the brand new Integra might look like a disappointing follow-up to the previous generations so revered by fanatics. As a peripheral member of the Honda Civic household, the Integra is a dear option to mix the Civic’s greatest parts—the Si’s 200-hp engine, the hatchback physique model, and the six-speed handbook—in a barely extra upscale package deal. And in opposition to German entry-luxury fashions such because the Audi A3 and the Mercedes-Benz CLA that Acura claims to be focusing on, the Integra is a less expensive different with a bit much less status.

This all would possibly sound overly bold for what’s successfully the substitute for the unassuming ILX. However Acura raised the stakes as quickly because it determined to resurrect the Integra identify relatively than sticking with the alphanumerics that adorn each different mannequin within the lineup. Or perhaps the identify was only a ploy for consideration—which labored, because the web has been abuzz concerning the automotive for months now. A lot to Acura’s delight, all this dialogue has created loads of hype. The corporate says the variety of Integra preorders is “exceeding expectations,” though they would not present us a selected determine. Nevertheless, they did say that greater than half of the early adopters are selecting the obtainable handbook transmission.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

In fact, this is not some watershed second for Acura. Greater than different present Acuras—MDX, NSX, RDX, TLX—the Integra attire up acquainted however good Honda parts.

HIGHS: Keen dealing with, hatchback practicality, obtainable handbook transmission.

Luckily, the Integra’s Honda bones are recent, particularly in comparison with the ILX’s generations-old Civic platform and dated powertrain. The Integra is derived from the identical platform because the new-for-2022 Eleventh-generation Civic. Its turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four is from the Civic too. Within the Integra, this engine produces the identical 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque because it does within the Civic Si. Acura says the Integra’s physique is barely stiffer than the Civic’s and claims there’s completely different tuning for the engine software program, suspension, and transmissions—which embrace a repeatedly variable automated in addition to the six-speed handbook.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

The acceleration numbers are comparable between the 2 vehicles, with the handbook Integra attending to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds. That lags 0.2 second behind the six-speed Civic Si’s time and edges 0.3 second forward of the Civic Sport Touring hatchback, which additionally has the turbo 1.5-liter and six-speed handbook however with 20 fewer horsepower.

The Integra Tech package deal additionally consists of the adaptive dampers that the most recent Civic Si does with out, making us ponder whether Honda eliminated this function from the Civic simply to go away one thing particular for the Integra. Regardless, they are a welcome addition. When set to both Consolation or Regular mode, they assist ship a cushier trip than the agency Si; in Sport mode, they serve to make the Integra nearly as energetic because the Honda.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

The satisfyingly heavy steering, responsive throttle, and clean shifter give the Integra an keen and playful really feel. The stick-shift automotive weighs simply 3062 kilos—a whole lot lower than a CLA or A3. Flip-in could possibly be sharper, however sadly the Integra would not supply the grippier summer season tires which can be elective on the Civic Si. It as an alternative makes do with Continental ProContact all-season rubber, which grip to the tune of 0.88 g, versus the summer-tired Si’s 0.94 g. Acura does embrace a helical limited-slip differential with the stick, however you will must pay further for the privilege of shifting for your self because the $2000 A-Spec and $3000 Expertise packages are required to be able to unlock the “no-cost” handbook choice. Our handbook take a look at automotive stickered for $36,895.

LOWS: No summer-tire choice, lacks refinement, value premium over Civic is tough to justify.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

We drove the automatic-transmission Integra too. The CVT is simply as inoffensive right here as it’s within the Civic, successfully managing the turbo engine’s broad torque curve and providing simulated shift factors to keep away from an excessive amount of droning underneath heavy throttle. However with out the additional engagement that the stick shift brings, the Integra’s relative lack of refinement turns into extra apparent. Whereas we respect the emphasis on lightness over sound deadening, the Integra might use extra isolation, as there is a truthful quantity of street noise at freeway speeds—we measured 71 decibels at a 70-mph cruise. On a take a look at drive, the additional racket might make it arduous for Acura to win over Audi and Mercedes buyers, even at a decrease month-to-month lease cost.

This carries over to the inside, as effectively, which is nice and sensible however not precisely richly trimmed. The A-Spec automotive has some enticing upholstery choices, together with a red-leather-and-faux-suede combo and a white-and-black two-tone setup. However in any other case, the environs really feel very similar to the Civic’s because of comparable mesh coverings for the air vents and piano-black trim on the middle console. Granted, that is extra of a praise to the Civic’s class-above supplies than it’s a knock in opposition to the Integra. The cargo space is beneficiant, and the Integra’s hatch setup is exclusive amongst entry-luxury fashions. We match 18 carry-on suitcases again there with the seats folded, and 5 with the seats up. The rear seat, too, is spacious however lacks particulars equivalent to air vents that we count on in a premium automotive.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

This sort of inside is appropriate on the Integra’s low beginning value of $31,895, however the model you actually need—the manual-transmission automotive that comes solely in absolutely loaded spec—prices hundreds extra.

And so we return to the thought of the Integra in context. It’s higher outfitted than the Civic Si, however given their similarities, we might discover it arduous to pay over $8000 extra for the Acura. And whereas the Integra appears to be like like a great deal in comparison with the aforementioned Audi and Mercedes-Benz entries, Acura additionally has to be careful for different pseudo-luxury fashions such because the turbocharged Mazda 3, which gives considerably extra energy than the Integra and arguably a extra upscale expertise when it comes to design and refinement.

Considered by itself, the Integra is enjoyable to drive, gasoline environment friendly, sensible, and first rate to take a look at. But it surely’s not all that rather more compelling than the Civic Si, and even the Sport Touring hatchback, regardless of costing fairly a bit extra. And it isn’t as luxurious as its German rivals. Whereas we just like the Acura, it’s most likely not the Integra the trustworthy had been hoping for. To fulfill them, Acura goes to must conjure up a Kind S model with extra energy and grippier rubber. Such is the burden of an ideal identify.

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