The New Integra Is All About Paying Respect

2024 Acura Integra Type S

Price: $55,600 CAD

Colour: Platinum White Pearl

I remember the 80’s and 90’s Acura Integra with great fondness. It quickly became the flagship offering from the then new luxury offering from Honda. The third generation of the Integra is of course my favorite because it was just so beautiful. That beautiful face, those round headlights, flowing lines and the must have spoiler on the trunk captivated me. Nobody I knew could afford the Type R of course, that was the stuff of dreams. The GS-R however, that was doable. These everyman racers from Japan were in the vanguard of the tuner revolution that was also kicking off in the mid-90’s. I had the privilege of seeing a bunch of wild custom build Integra’s and I loved them all. Honda’s announcement that the Integra would be discontinued in 2001 was heart breaking. Why would they cancel such a beloved car, particularly when they chose to replace it with the uninspiring RSX? Was it solely because they wanted to change all their cars to have stupid three letter names? Whatever the reason, they killed off a vehicle that inspired passion and fervor among its disciples and in the 20 years that followed, Acura would learn the depth of their mistake as they struggled to make anything else that captured the hearts of car people like the Integra. As is the way of things however, time has returned the Integra to us, and it’s back in fine form.

The Acura Integra returned to showrooms for the 2023 model year. It replaced the decent but boring ILX. I was happy for many reasons when I learned of the imminent return of the Integra. I was curious what it would look like and how it would be made. Would it be an all-new chassis? No, absolutely not. The new Integra borrows most of its important bits from the current Civic. This continues the tradition begun with the previous Integra as that vehicle also shared much with its Honda siblings. Would the Integra have a bespoke power plant then? Something special and thrilling? No, absolutely not. It gets the engine from the Civic Si, albeit tweaked to deliver a small increase in power. It’s at this point however that the Integra begins to differentiate itself from the Civic. It has a bespoke body that is quite beautiful. You can only get the new Integra in a 4-door liftback. No stunning coupé this time around. While I appreciate the reasons for this decision, it still hurts, but at least it’s beautiful. In addition to the outside, you also get a signature interior made only for the Integra. It’s a nice place to be and a comfortable place to sit. The new Integra then is made with a very similar philosophy to the old one, and that’s just fine.

I mentioned earlier my love of the GS-R and Type R Integra from decades past. Acura hasn’t forgotten the passion these models inspired, and they’ve given us the Type S. This is the vehicle I’m testing, and it only comes with a 6-speed manual transmission. You also get the same engine from the Civic Type R. The 2.0L turbocharged engine with VTEC pumps out 320hp and 310 lb/ft of torque. It’s a lot of power for a front wheel drive car. The old Type R Integra didn’t even hit 200hp, so we had nothing to worry about with that car. The new Type S however, gave me pause. The Civic Si gives us just under 200hp and it’s nearly perfect for a front wheel drive sports car you could daily with ease. How then does the Integra handle over 50% more power? Quite well actually. I’ll state off the top that I’d prefer the new Integra be fitted with rear-wheel drive or perhaps an all-wheel setup. That would have made better use of the 320hp on offer. That being said, this new tricky differential fitted to the Integra really does work magic at getting the power on the road and keeping the car from torque steering into the nearest adjacent tree. All that power makes it easy to chirp the front wheels at any time, but particularly when you’re driving the Type S in winter on matching tires. You can still get out of control in this thing, but you really have to fight for it.

The Integra Type S comes with the requisite drive modes you’d find on any modern sports car. Often times drive modes don’t really do anything for me, particularly on a manual where we are given so much more control than mushy autobox. The Integra Type S gives us something special in Sport +. The exhaust system fires up an active exhaust valve in the 3-pipe muffler that generates backfires under aggressive downshifting. This entertained the hell out of both myself and my 14-year-old son. We spent many kilometers finding reasons to downshift hard and make that exhaust pop like sports cars of old. This is just a gimmick and I know it, but it’s a fun gimmick.

In a world consumed with more and more homogenous SUV’s it’s always great to see a quality sedan come down the pipe. To see a special version of that sedan like the Type S Integra is something else entirely. Honda has paid homage and respect to the old Integra with the new one. They’ve also paid respect to the old GS-R and Type R with this Type S. Like the heroes of old you can daily this thing with no issues while having a great time backfiring that exhaust on your way to work.

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