2023 Acura Integra A-Spec Tech


Finally! Finally Acura has seen the error of its ways and brought back a proper name, a name from the past, a name that resonated with kids of all ages - Integra. 

Acura hit a home run when they introduced the Integra in 1986. Honda was already a well-known, well-respected brand but they craved more. The Acura brand was born. The first Integra was basically a Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) Honda Civic rebadged and tweaked. The enthusiast magazines raved about it. It had a sweetheart 1.6-liter, DOHC engine that made 113 horsepower at 6,250 RPM!

Like the Legend, the Integra became known by its model name not the company name of Acura. Maybe that was the problem, few said they owned an Acura Integra, it was just Integra.

But that was then. I am willing to bet that some people will head on down to their local Acura dealer to see, and probably buy, a new Integra just because of the name.

Just like in the past the Integra shares a platform with its corporate cousin, the Honda Civic. That has never been a secret. The Integra has the same wheelbase (107.7") as the Civic but it is slightly longer, and a tad wider. 

The main difference is horsepower. They both share a turbo-charged 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder but the Integra's makes 200 hp, twenty more than the Civic's. Torque for the Integra is 192 lb-ft from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm. For those who want more a 320 horse Integra Type S is coming.

Acura touts its 6-speed manual transmission, and rightfully so as there aren't that many cars available with a manual transmission. I've driven more than a few stick shift cars in my many years, some were good and some not so much. I find modern clutch pedal action frustrating because there is little feel in their operation. The Integra was like that and I didn't always get it right; sometimes I was jerky, sometimes I ended up slipping the clutch too much. I hate it when I seem like an amateur. 

You no longer have to heel-and-toe during downshifts (something I've always had trouble with) because the computer blips the engine on downshifts. 

The engine likes to rev and combined with a short first gear (3.63 to 1 ratio) that means you are up against the rev limiter before you know it. And with a final drive of 4.353:1 the overdrive 5th and 6th gears keep the engine well within the torque range on the highway. 

The Integra is a true hatchback, something that seems rare today. There was a time when almost everybody wanted a hatchback for its utility. 

I put a fair amount of miles on the Integra (I used just over a half tank of gas). It is rated at 36-mpg on the highway and 26-mpg around town. I did not keep track of the test Integra's economy mostly because I had trouble toggling between screens to find the trip computer. 

Other than the groans I made getting in and out of the Integra (part of the old-guy syndrome) it was a comfortable place, and most of the controls were well laid out. 

There was one small snag that I noticed when driving on the Interstate. When trying to make a small correction the steering seemed to stick at dead center. It wasn't terrible but it was evident. I Googled the symptom and found more than a few complaints. I asked an Acura representative about the issue and this was the reply "I do know that NHTSA opened a Preliminary Evaluation on Honda Civic 2022-23 model year but nothing on Integra." 

Part of that reply highlights a different point - the similarities between the Civic and the Integra. Back in the days of the first generations of the Integra, even though it was built on the same platform as the Civic, the engines were different. That's what made the Integra special to many buyers, it had a twin-cam engine.

I'm sure the Integra A-Spec Tech is nicer inside than a Civic Si but it also is much pricier. Performance is almost identical, and this is the kicker for me, the price difference, at least for the base of both, is almost $8,000!

It seems to me that Acura might have the same problem that bedeviled other auto makers - in-house competing models are too similar. Think about the brands that have disappeared and tell me I'm wrong.

On the other hand Acura has usually attracted a different demographic than Honda, a bit older, and a bit wealthier. The image I have is a Civic Si driver racing from stoplight to stoplight with a fart-can muffler while an Integra driver would take the road less travelled. 

The 2023 Integra A-Spec Tech starts at $36,300, and the test car added $600 for Liquid Carbon Metallic paint and $1,195 for destination and handling.

I applaud Acura for reviving the Integra name. Now let's bring back the Legend.


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