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The New Integra - Did Acura Do This Legend Justice?

Acura is bringing back the Integra nameplate after a 21-year absence. Read on to find out what Richard likes and doesn’t like about the reintroduced model.
The New Integra - Did Acura Do This Legend Justice?
New Acura Integra Front View

In 1986, I had the good fortune to drive a company car, and the better fortune for that car to be a new Acura Integra. Before this, my previous new cars had been a VW Rabbit followed by a Scirocco. While the latter was somewhat sporty, “my” Integra had a DOHC engine, 4-wheel discs, and a sunroof, all of which were lacking in those German cars. With the Integra, I got to pick the color (red) and the transmission (stick), and 10,000 miles later, after driving the ever-living snot out of it (with zero issues), I was sorry to hand it back (a casualty of a job change). Since then, I watched with envy as the Integra lineup grew, and was sad to see the nameplate disappear in 2001.

New Acura Integra Rear View

So it’s only been natural for friends and colleagues to seek my opinions about the rebirth of the Integra, introduced in the metal last week as a thinly-disguised prototype. (Consensus is that excepting the body-colored exhaust tips, what we’re seeing is the production vehicle.) Not all the specs are out, but we know that the platform is based on the current Civic, as was the case with prior Integras. Initial versions should have a 1.5L turbo 4 with about 200 ponies, limited-slip diff, and of course, a 6-speed as well as optional automatic. Sales will begin in 2022 as a 2023 model car. On paper, it all sounds promising.

New Acura Integra Side View

What about its looks? Acura released only exterior photos, but they are enough to provide good detail. Starting at the nose: what’s with the generic Acura grille? It looks like every other Acura on the showroom floor, lacking any distinguishing characteristics. (My ’86 had flip-up lights, and while they lasted only one generation, they were distinctive.) The full-on side view shows a car that could easily be mistaken for a Civic were it not for the large “INTEGRA” rocker panel script (hopefully a prototype-only feature). The longish wheelbase and quarter panels signify what I hope will be copious rear seat and hatchback room. For me, the new car’s rear end has its best features. Thewell-integrated bumper includes an embossed “Integra” emblem like past models, and the taillights remind me of previous Integras without being retro. Without interior shots, further judgment is on hold for now. (And to those screaming about the lack of a 3-door: grow up and look at the facts. The volume expectations for such a body style are close to nil, so I don’t blame Acura one bit for sticking with the 5-door.)

New Acura Integra Tail Light Close Up

Will consumers buy it? Presuming that its driving dynamics live up to the early hype, the definitive answer is … maybe. For those who insist on rowing their own boats, the competition is rather thin on the ground. Aside from the Civic, I can think of only two competitors with FWD, 5-doors, and manual gearbox availability: the VW GTi and the Mini Cooper. Both models have been around a while and have their supporters. But both are boxy compared to the new Integra. There’s no point to comparing specs until we get official numbers from Acura, so for now we can say that a prospect cross-shopping the Integra, GTi, and Mini may base their decision on price, value, and brand loyalty (if any). I’ve driven earlier versions of the GTi and Mini, and instead of one of those, I’d like nothing more than a car that again reminds me of that hot red ’86 Integra I had.

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