After being away for 16 long years, the Acura Integra is back! To understand just how exciting a statement like that is, let’s endure a quick history lesson. First introduced in 1985, by iconic Japanese auto-manufacturer Honda, the Integra represented a sportier, more powerful version of the Civic. Renowned for its high levels of performance and impressive handling. It quickly became a popular choice for tuners and tinkerers around the world.
From 1995-2001, the DC2 Type R Integra, with its factory tuned B18C engine, and vastly improved handling, would dominate the street and track scene. Setting new standards with its potent 4-cylinder variable valve timing engine. Re-defining the kinds of power a small, naturally aspirated engine can produce. While the big muscle from Detroit was left scratching its head in a mix of wonder and confusion, the Integra continued to win races, draw crowds at car shows, grace the cover of magazines and more. Then, it went away.
It comes as no surprise then that its long awaited return would come with lots of built up hopes, dreams and lofty expectations. The Acura Integra, which always shared a sort of kingship with the Honda Civic in the past, continues this tradition, as the new model has all of the same underpinnings as the current Civic. That’s hardly where the sharing stops though, as it also receives its 200 hp from the same 1.5L turbo engine found in the Civic Si. Less displacement than the 1.8L engines in the past, but more power thanks to the turbo. It’s enough horsepower to tease you with what’s there, while quietly begging that you bolt on some more power with a little help from the aftermarket realm.
With a longer wheelbase and way more legroom in the rear than the Integras’ of the 20th century, I was a little concerned that it would’ve lost the sharp handling and light-footed feel that always made it such a joy to toss around tight bends in the past. Thankfully, that’s not the case. For starters, the steering is tight, communicating plenty of feedback through the wheel. Different driving modes help match your mood, with the Sport mode offering the most aggressive experience. There’s a limited-slip differential, adaptive damper system and a MacPherson Strut suspension up front. With everything working together, the 2023 Acura Integra hasn’t lost its talent for turning. Remaining a blast to drive fast and drive hard.
Since there’s no Type R version available, yet… the A-Spec will be the clearest path to the sportiest version around. Most importantly, it unlocks the 6-speed manual option! A transmission that isn’t available in the base model. Other big visual nods to the rich history of the Acura Integra are immediately recognizable to whoever knows what to look for. The white exterior paint and red sport seats with microsuede inserts are a JDM dream combo. 18” alloy wheels, sport pedals, Jewel Eye LED headlights, fog lights and a tasteful rear deckled spoiler, all pump up the visuals even more. Like a former Integra owner with money to spend and enough restraint to upgrade things just enough, without getting too carried away. Sourcing the best items, cutting no corners and sparing no expense. In an effort to make the end result feel elevated and special. That’s what you’re getting right off the factory floor, without all the wrenching.
Intimidating has been the task of resurrecting iconic Japanese superstars from the 90’s. While the Nissan GTR, Toyota Supra and Acura NSX represent some of the more bold and brash attempts, it’s been exciting to see other, more approachable models return so successfully as well. The Honda Civic Type R, Nissan Z, and now, the Acura Integra. Thankfully, its retained its strong base of decent power and excellent handling. A combination, especially with the 6-speed manual, that makes it a lot of fun to drive hard right off the lot. Its styling is sharp and modern, its interior feels upscale, with a Japanese Domestic red and black theme that we all pined over in the past. There’s plenty of obvious inspiration thats been draws from its rich history, plus all of the latest and greatest automotive and tech advancements to usher it into the modern era. Just like every Integra before it though, it represents a very good start, but begs to be upgraded and customized by its new owners, to become so much more.
Price as tested: $37,395.00