Honda, together with the Acura brand has released many great driver’s cars over the last few decades, the NSX, Civic, Accord, and of course the S2000 to name a few.
Perhaps one of their best efforts to date is missing from that list – the Integra Type-R from the 90s.
That car re-wrote the rule book for those who thought that the way forward with sports sedans was with big displacement or turbocharged engines; or even that they should be rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Acura has been busy teasing us about the upcoming Integra for a while and while there are some highlights to look over – unfortunately, there are some 'lowlights' too.
The 2023 Acura Integra Is Great And Flawed In Equal Measure
Before we compare the new Integra to the old, let’s see what you get for upwards of $30,000 when this sedan goes on sale later.
Firstly, the styling is hit-and-miss, but according to Acura the aim isn’t to replicate the old car physically, but rather create a modern reinterpretation; as such it does look modern but still ends up looking like an Acura ILX from the same brand with some altered details, it’s styling is perhaps overly fussy at the front and rear, too.
Looking at the side profile, with those 19” wheels, the car looks more cohesive and resolved even if it still blends in a little too well to the background, but the old Integra also had a restrained shape too, remember.
Dual-exit exhausts and rear splitter add some drama to the design, but the real drama should be under the hood in any Integra: pleasingly, the motor is of the legendary VTEC type but this time around it’s a 1.5-liter turbocharged unit, producing a 200 hp.
If you plump for a top-drawer A-Spec model with the Tech Package you get a manual 6-speed gearbox, adaptive dampers, and a limited-slip differential, plus a 9-inch infotainment screen.
But if you pay less, you’re going to be getting a CVT automatic gearbox, a smaller 7-inch screen, and standard suspension.
The Acura Integra: The Good, The Bad And The Reasonably Ugly
You could be forgiven for thinking that things maybe should have moved on a little more in 25 years, as this modern turbocharged engine makes practically the same power as the original Integra Type-R made in the 90s - which it did with no turbocharger and only 300cc more capacity under the hood.
It was also lightweight and focused on handling over outright power, but this car is now much heavier presumably; so the driving characteristics of the 197 hp and 2400 lbs of that old Type-R will doubtless not be recreated here.
If you get the CVT the driving experience will be worse still, but the focus here is on style and comfort, with wireless smartphone charging and Apple CarPlay connectivity being as important as anything else for most people in the car buying process.
It’s worth remembering that this is not a Type-R; it’s a standard Integra, so its purpose is more or less the same as an ILX – it’s not a performance car or driving machine per se, so you could forgive it for its faults to a point.
The thing is, it’s a shame that the Integra name bears so much weight of expectation due to the legend of the 90s Type-R models, but to see it being used on a heavy, automatic sedan still seems a little strange, even if it has a 200 hp VTEC under the hood.
Just make sure you get the manual, and here’s hoping that the handling will be exceptional.