CVT? 200 hp? The 2023 Acura Integra is breaking our hearts
It seems like forever ago that Acura set car enthusiasts abuzz with a carefully orchestrated drone show at 2021’s Monterey Car Week. Following a myriad of teasers, a few hard details, and a promising concept reveal, we now have our first real glimpse at Acura’s revived front-drive nameplate. Here’s the elevator pitch: On paper at least, the Integra is disappointing. A missed opportunity, for sure.
Let’s talk numbers: 200 hp and 192 lb-ft—not a pony nor a twist more than what this wheezing 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes in the Honda Civic Si sedan. The Integra will get a better exhaust to make a mildly more joyful noise, but if you’re looking for the rev-happy, free-breathing four-pots in Integras of yore, you’re plum out of luck.
The default transmission of choice is similarly sigh-inducing. Base Integras will offer a continuously-variable transmission with “simulated gear changes” via wheel-mounted shift paddles. Should you want the six-speed manual gearbox, that’ll require stepping up to the high-trim Integra A-Spec. Acura says the 2023 Integra has a starting price of “about $30,000,” and judging by the delta between the outgoing ILX and the ILX A-Spec, we’d bet the Integra A-Spec will eclipse $35,000. That price would put it on par with the mid-tier VW Golf GTI SE.
Blessedly, manual-equipped Integra’s do come with the Si’s same helical-type limited-slip differential to claw your way out of tight corners. Another win: the new Integra offers adaptive dampers, something missing from the current 11th-generation Civic Si. A caveat, though: You have to spring for that A-Spec model with the technology package to get them. Acura’s Integrated Dynamic System (IDS) allows you to tune drivetrain parameters such as throttle response, steering weight, and shift mapping (for the CVT) between three settings: Comfort, Normal, and Sport. A-Spec models (with the tech pack) will get an individual button that allows these parameters to be adjusted individually and then called up with the simple jab of a button.
At least the whole thing looks pretty good. The five-door liftback design is a modernized take on those screaming Integras of yesteryear, and Acura’s styling language—first introduced on the 2019 RDX—fits well on the obvious Civic Hatch shape. Wheel-wise, you’ll get 17-inchers on the base model, but higher-trim models can score 18- or 19-inch shoes for the right price. A Shark gray set of 18-inch wheels shod in wider (235 mm vs. 215 mm in the base model) high-performance all-season tires as part of the A-Spec trim, which will also net gloss black window, front, and rear fascia trim, as well as a lip spoiler and A-Spec badging. (Safe to say that largely production-ready concept revealed late last year was an A-Spec version.) Those sweet embossed Integra nameplates on the front and rear bumpers did make it to production, which is a neat tie-in to the last time the nameplate graced these shores.
Inside, the dashboard is a largely copy-paste affair from that of the Civic Si. Those wicked-cool diamond climate control vents are present and accounted for. The other switchgear, which features some of the best haptic feedback in the business from real buttons, also carries over. The biggest differentiator is the standard 10.2-inch digital cluster in front of the driver where two analog gauges reside in the Civic. Lower-trim Integras get a 7-inch central screen, while A-Spec models with the tech package stretch that to a 9-inch unit. All Integra customers will get heated and power-adjusted seats as standard, offered in either Ebony, Red, or Orchid shades of a synthetic leather. A-Spec owners will get microsuede inserts in said seats. Based on our experience with other Acura products, expect these thrones to be nice ‘n comfy. Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but wireless capability is available for extra coin. Spring for the A-Spec with that tech pack, and you’ll get a 16-speaker audio system in place of the standard 8-speaker affair.
Preorders for the new Integra go live today. The first 500 reservation holders will have the chance to claim a limited-edition NFT that will begin as a base Integra but will morph into a unique configuration that mirrors the customer’s real order. (That either really excites you or means exactly nothing.) The car will be built at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio, plant on the same production line as the TLX sedan.
We’re not normally so indifferent to the hello-world moment of a compact sports car, especially one with a manual transmission on the build sheet. If you’re hammering out reservation details right now—provided it’s the A-Spec—then more power to you. We just wanted a bit … more. More power from the Integra’s engine than its cheaper platform mate. More distinction for CVT-equipped models than a Civic Sport Touring, which is roughly the same money. More respect for driving enthusiasts than withholding the good stuff for the most expensive trim clearly conveys. We’re hopeful some seat time will prove us wrong. In the meantime, we’ll be trying to finally figure out what the hell an NFT is.