Review of the 2023 Acura Integra: The Honda Civic Si for adults

In its pursuit to distance itself from the related — and less expensive — Honda Civic Si, the all-new Acura Integra is an attention-grabbing, smart-looking, cost-efficient sport sedan.

Compared with models like the Audi A3, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, Mercedes-Benz CLA and so forth, the sportier trim levels of the Integra are generally less expensive, less luxurious and slower.

When Honda redesigned the 2022 Civic Si, one new feature conspicuously lacking was the previous generation’s adaptive suspension. The new Civic Si was so different and better than the one before it that we mourned the old one’s demise.

Once Acura, Honda’s luxury brand, introduced the 2023 Integra, we understood what was going on: In addition to the adaptive suspension, other refinements, options, and modifications were designed to evoke nostalgia for Integra, along with a higher-end, more upscale copy of the Civic Si. Given that the new Integra is not much more than a fancier, more luxurious, better-equipped and differently styled Civic Si, the answer ends up being both yes and no.

What has Honda Acura wrought?

So what is this mongrel that has become a nostalgic trigger for Japanese car fans worldwide? A fancier, sportier, and arguably more advanced version of the Civic – in this case, the Si – the 2023 Integra has the same powertrain, chassis, and overall structure. Still, it is wrapped in sheet metal and has its interior. For example, the Honda Si comes only with a manual transmission, while most Integras come with an automatic transmission. A stick shift is only available on the top A-Spec with Technology trim level. The Civic Si has a trunk, but the Integra is only a hatchback.

As well as that, there are similarities in powertrain: a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 192 pounds-feet of torque. In performance tests, it will reach 0-60 mph in the mid-seven-second range regardless of transmission, whether a continuous variable automatic or a six-speed manual.

As is true of a manual-equipped Integra, my test car, with its manual transmission, offered engaging and fun handling. But there was one issue. Compared to other vehicles in its class, it is not that quick. The turbo does the job but loses steam when trying to propel the vehicle quickly at higher RPM. Car experts state it is cliche to say a car needs more power, as most do not. However, for an Integra to be a proper sports sedan- not just a sporty sedan-it actually needs more power.

Its power comes with pleasantly snorty exhaust noise, however, while much other noise from the road and wind also be heard in the cabin. Its curb weight may be lower than some competitors, but perhaps too much sound-deadening material is eliminated to accomplish that.

The Integra could also benefit from some stickier tires. Rather than summer tires like the Civic Si, the Integra makes do with decently grippy all-season tires for ride quality and noise. The Integra’s sharp handling is only marginally dampened; the driver gets excellent feedback. It will be worth it if you swap out the all-seasons for some summer meats when the weather gets nice.

Compared to the Civic Si, which is jarring and bouncy, the Integra, with its active dampers, is uniquely smooth. The Integra’s Sport mode isn’t quite as assertive as the Civic’s, which is good for the body, especially your spine and kidneys.

What Works with the Integra?

Let’s take a moment to forget Integra’s Civic roots and instead focus on the competition Acura is facing. The Audi A3 costs around $36,000, has a bigger engine, more torque, and can reach 60 mph a full second faster, according to the manufacturer. At around $40,000 to start, Mercedes-Benz CLA250 has more horsepower, more torque and is faster to 60 mph: Mercedes says it takes 6.3 seconds to get there. With a starting price of $39,000, the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is faster, more powerful and torquey than the Integra. (All prices exclude destination charges.)

A base Integra starts just north of $32,000, well below the starting price of any of these entry-luxury German sports sedans.

By optioning up to its top trim, the Acura becomes more competitive with its German competitors regarding equipment and amenities. The ILX, which never really made a mark in the class, does better in this regard than the outgoing (unloved, unmissed) Acura ILX. Changing the car’s name to Integra (the only Acura model without three-letter monikers these days) was a big step towards reestablishing some competitiveness. If this thing was still called ILX, would you care as much about it? It works if you play on nostalgia (would you care if it was still called ILX? ); playing the nostalgic-name card did wonders for the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV.

Comparing its cabins, the Integra does not stand out: it’s a little bit nicer inside than the Civic – which is already nicer than most other compact sedans – but it’s not as nice as its luxury compact sedan rivals. A Mercedes-Benz or BMW interior, in particular, easily outclasses it in every aspect, from controls to multimedia. Aside from its fun interior colours and a good set of standard equipment, the Integra’s biggest advantage is its size: This car has a much larger cabin than any German sedan and a back seat that adults can use. For example, the quality of the materials in the backseat doesn’t come close to a regular premium luxury car, and this particular one has missing features, such as vents in the rear seats. While the Integra has certain luxuries, such as things front seats don’t, it can’t quite meet up with the upper class and costs about a third less.

Copyright © 2017-2018 USA Direct Auto
Buy traffic for your website

We'll text you.