The Acura Integra prototype teases a promising GTI-fighter

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It sure looks like Christmas come early, at least for those of us that have been begging Honda for an Si version of the stellar Civic hatchback. Acura just unveiled its Integra prototype, which looks just about production-ready, accompanied by an edgy-hip video celebrating the enthusiast culture behind the nameplate. (Check out that footage below.) Integra is a name associated with some of the greatest front-wheel drive machines ever made. After 20 years it’s back, but up against a high bar and likely staring down the GTI in its crosshairs. Let’s dig in.

If that silhouette looks familiar, it’s because the shape is near-identical to that of the 11th-generation Honda Civic hatchback with which the Integra almost certainly shares its underpinnings. The swoopy five-door liftback sports snazzy looking LED headlamps and tail lamps that boast Acura’s signature DRL design—a tie-in with other Acura sedans such as the TLX. The prototype pictured here is slathered in Indy Yellow pearl exterior paint, a tribute to the famous Phoenix yellow that was one of our favorite shades for the turn-of-the-century Integra Type R. Our favorite feature by far is the embossed INTEGRA nameplate in the front and rear bumpers, just like on the older cars. We’re also digging the colored dual exhaust outlets, but don’t expect those to make it to the finished production model.

Acura Integra Prototype rear three quarter shadows
Acura

The Integra prototype sports a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with VTEC—another part it’s safe to bet is shared with the Civic Si. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a slight power bump for the Integra’s version of the engine, hoisting its output figures beyond the 192 lb-ft of torque and 200 horsepower that the new Si promises. Because there are still people in this world who care about driving, and some of them are at Acura, the Integra will be offered with a six-speed manual. Rejoice! The fact that the manual is “available” suggests there’s also going to be an automatic version, which, unless Acura is stretching itself thin, will also mean that the CVT from the Civic will make its way over to the Integra in some form. Do the right thing and get yours with three pedals. As with the Si, there’s also a limited-slip front differential (likely the same helical-type piece) to sort out corner exits.

Acura Integra Prototype driving low rear three quarter
Acura

Acura’s reveal provided no glimpses of the Integra’s interior, either from the live-streamed reveal or in the press release photos posted here. While we don’t expect anything revolutionary, we’d bet Acura’s interior designers have something a little more posh cooked up compared to the less-is-more approach in the new Civic. If Acura wants to keep teasing out bits of Integra details in the months to come, expect those images to follow in short order.

Acura Integra Prototype Wheel
Acura

Acura says that the new Integra will be a 2023 model available in dealerships some time next year—we’d bet late in Q3 or right away in Q4, provided the chip shortage doesn’t get in the way. Price-wise, we’re looking at “around $30,000,” which pits it more or less head on with the VW GTI hatchback. Given that the Civic Si starts around 28 grand, it’s no stretch to imagine the Integra starting in the $32,000 range. That would still make it the most affordable Acura in a hot minute—not since the days of the RSX Type S, last sold for 2006, have we seen a defensibly enthusiast-oriented Acura that attainable.

Expect more details in the months ahead, plus a fully-realized production version making an appearance sometime early next year. We’re thrilled to see such a celebrated nameplate return to Acura’s lineup. Odds are it won’t be the visceral, lightweight Integra we remember, but a new enthusiast liftback with a six-speed, in 2022, can’t be a bad thing.

 

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