2024 Acura Integra Type S First Drive Review: Multiple Personalities, Perfect Execution

2024 Acura Integra Type S Review
2024 Acura Integra Type S Review

2024 Acura Integra Type S First Drive Review: Multiple Personalities, Perfect Execution

A well-made driver’s car that doesn’t just have personality, it has several.

Acura Reviews photo

The 2024 Acura Integra Type S has qualities far more impressive than a ludicrous 0-60 time or a huge-diameter touchscreen—it has balance, harmony, and soul. Few cars appeal to both pragmatism and playfulness so well; none look this good doing it. This is a car we’ll be celebrating until gasoline goes extinct.

I have to disclose that I’m pretty much seventh-row center of this car’s target audience. Big sport compact fan, Japanese car enthusiast, and near-past nostalgist here. My first car ever was a base-model salvage-title Integra from 1996.

But despite the callback name, the new Integra Type S formula is really not “classic Integra plus power and technology.” It’s a new car with its own identity and character. It just happens to have brought along some excellent elements from the golden era of Acura’s initial rise to relevance.

2024 Acura Integra Type S Specs

  • Base price (as tested) $50,800 ($53,785)
  • Powertrain: 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo | 6-speed manual | front-wheel drive
  • Horsepower: 320 @ 6,500 rpm
  • Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 2,600 to 4,000 rpm
  • Seating capacity: 4
  • Curb weight: 3,219 pounds
  • Cargo volume: 24.3 cubic feet
  • Top speed: 167 mph
  • EPA fuel economy: 21 mpg city | 28 highway | 24 combined
  • Quick take: A well-made driver’s car that doesn’t just have personality, it has several.
  • Score: 9/10

The Basics

The Integra Type S is a premium performance sport compact car, brand new for 2024. It shares a platform and key components with the FL5 Civic Type R that also just came out. But while the Honda is tuned for time attack (read: stiff, sharp, and aggressive) this Acura is set up to be a little more comfortable and daily driving friendly—a few clicks more compliant in ride and responsiveness with a more upscale interior.

The Integra A-Spec is a nice-driving sport compact car too, and it lets you squeeze a lot of joy out of its 200-horsepower engine. But the Type S is more than a few tweaks up. Between its 320-hp turbo K-series and hunkered stance, this car does an exceptional job of asserting itself as a serious performance car without compromising refinement or looking like a Hollywood prop car.

If you grew up with earlier iterations of the Integra, it makes sense to assume this picks up where the old car left off when it was discontinued circa 2001. In some important ways, it is—the core spirit of old and new both being “a great driver’s car that’s also practical.”

Two decades ago, the Integra Type R was the top-tier offering. It was light, lean, and compared to today’s cars, pretty raw. The new Type S is not that car. Today’s range-topping Integra is faster, more comfortable, and markedly safer. But what really makes it better to live with is its versatility. When you’ve got a stretch of open road or race track in front of you, the Sport and Sport+ modes make the ITS eager to slice and dice and blow the doors off an old Type R. When you want to chill, Comfort mode is just a couple of quick clicks away and the car suddenly softens up for daily duty. That is the real magic of a modern Type S.

Exterior and Interior Design

Acura has really committed to corporate homogenization and if you’re not into cars, it’s a little tough to tell the models apart. But the ITS has some great design flourishes that make it fun to look at.

Body and Wheels

The wide stance and fender flares are doing the most work to make this car stand out. They’re stamped metal, by the way, not some tacked-on plastic nonsense. An optional carbon fiber tail spoiler goes a long way in accentuating the Type S bristliness, and that center triple-exit exhaust really brings the car’s look home. I even like the badge treatment—the little “Type S” emblem in the corner of the trunk and on the fenders is just the right amount of advertising.

I find it a little odd that you can only have the wheels in this dark grey color, or copper for an extra $2,000. But the design is nice and Acura claims they’re lighter than the A-Spec wheels despite being bigger.

Cockpit

The Integra’s interior is clean and comfortable, not ornate or particularly elegant. Materials at the touchpoints are nice and I really like the button layout, but the cockpit doesn’t have the designy artfulness you get in the similarly-priced Euro rivals. Whether or not that’s a pro or con depends entirely on your personal aesthetic, though.

Acura makes good use of the digital dashboard and infotainment without overwhelming you with screens. Drivers have a lot of choice for what’s displayed on the dash and HUD, and the drive mode selector is done just right. It’s one click of a switch up or down for Comfort or Sport (the digital squink sound as this happens is great too), and best of all, a user-configurable Individual mode is hard-keyed so you can hit it instantly without thinking.

The only aspect I was lukewarm on was the seat. Several of Acura’s people mentioned how proud they were of the seat design; it’s supposed to be comfy yet supportive to fit every drive mode. But my butt couldn’t quite settle in it—it’s possible I just need to find a better recline setting.

Cargo Hatch and Engine Bay

This car’s liftback design means that the rear glass comes up when you open the trunk, giving you a lot of cargo versatility. On the other side of the car, the red engine cover looks great and the VTEC turbo engine looks quite serviceable. Any time I see an air filter you can change without tools, I feel like I’m looking at a reasonably home-mechanic serviceable motor.

One Special Thing, And One More

The Integra’s engine is amazing, but the six-speed manual transmission it’s paired with is really what makes the vehicle stand out. A stick shift can make a bland car interesting, and a well-made stick in an otherwise-excellent car? Just incredible. I know it’s popular to dismiss the joys of driving manual these days because people are lazy and high-performance automatics can yield superior acceleration. But take it from someone who’s driven sports cars from the $30,000 to $750,000 price points: There’s simply no replacement for you, the driver, physically being a cog in your car’s transmission. If you want to feel one with your car, the Type S is an exceptional option for this reason.

I found clutch engagement to be nice and linear while shifter throws are on the short side of medium-length. You get a great shift light for hard charging (the whole tach pulses red) and unlike older Hondas, you don’t need to rev this thing all the way up to make power—there’s a nice dose of torque even in the 3,000-rpm neighborhood and a downshift isn’t always necessary for highway passing. But you’ll probably find yourself rowing gears anyway; the lever’s weight and resistance are just so damn satisfying.

Beyond that, I have to shout out the drive mode selector again as a distinctly good element of the Integra’s human-machine interface. It’s easy to reach and, more importantly, easy to actuate from muscle memory. The physical switch is perfectly paired to the number of available modes—you’ll always be able to hit what you’re looking for and your optimal personal Individual settings are always just one touch away.

Driving Experience

The 2024 Integra Type S is swift, smooth, and sounds great. Driving the car in Comfort reminded me of the six-speed Acura TL I owned ages ago, in the best possible way. Big “executive express” energy—easy and light but with a satisfying sharpness to the brakes and chassis. The sportier modes make the car a lot heavier in your hands. Acura did a great job calibrating the car to feel much more purposeful and powerful just with tweaks to its responsiveness.

I personally preferred to run the suspension on its comfort setting, moderate resistance steering, and everything else full-sporty. The car’s plenty taut, but I felt that let the steering feel most neutral. The throttle response and exhaust ratcheted up to their most aggressive pitches feels great though, and even with the deliberate “pops and bangs,” the Integra’s exhaust is pretty civilized compared to anything aftermarket, or even the rowdier stock vehicles (think: Mustang, F-Type) out there.

There are certainly faster cars and lighter ones that feel more intense, but I have to say, thrashing the ITS with a vengeance is some of the most fun I’ve had on four wheels in a long time. This car simply has a harmony that makes it exhilarating to operate without being terrifying or forcing you into antisocial speeds—and that’s really what makes it one of the best driver’s cars you can buy new right now.

There’s enough torque to pull your guts into the seat as you accelerate, but you still need to work the gears and brakes and gas a lot to carry yourself through twisty roads. Then again, there’s so much tire width that you’re pretty well protected from overdriving and losing control.

And if you really want to throw caution to the wind—the stated top speed is a blistering 167 mph. Or you could get your adrenaline pumping at any speed by cranking up the ELS stereo, which is incredible.

Modding Potential

One of the most fun aspects of owning older Hondas and Acuras is modifying them. There’s a huge aftermarket for Civics and Integras, and many generations of both can benefit greatly from the right combination of upgrades and tuning. I expect we’ll see tuners offering power adders and cosmetic mods for the new Integra Type S too since you can already get a Hondata tune for the Integra A-Spec to improve its performance.

It will be cool to see high-tier tuners make monsters out of this 2.0-liter Integra with turbo upgrades. But honestly, I think most of us will be better off leaving our Type S vehicles stock. This car is just already so cohesively made and harmonized, and messing with any one thing will throw off that immaculate balance. The stock exhaust looks cool and sounds great—even the burbles you get in Sport+ mode are fun but not annoying. Similarly, the stock intake makes the right noises and is going to yield better long-term reliability than a cold-air pipe. I’d even be reticent to mess with the body because I wouldn’t want to throw aero out of sync.

That said, I’ve heard folks complain about engine cooling with last-gen Civic Type R on track days, so there might still be some efficiency to find there. You could also still have fun experimenting with different tires, wheels, and brake pads. If you’re looking for more customization than the various drive-mode settings allow, Acuity will soon sell you an adjustable shifter (I have one in my Civic that’s excellent) which would let you tweak shift throws, gates, and knob height.

It’s also safe to say that there will probably be a Hondata computer tune you can run without other modifications that will let you sacrifice a little fuel economy for more oomph. Otherwise, the only non-factory upgrade I might suggest for the car’s cosmetics, besides maybe a subtle graphic kit, would be to throw a suede headliner in there. The stock cloth unit isn’t hideous, but you’d go a long way to spicing up the cockpit just by changing out that material and you wouldn’t give anything up.

Acura Integra Type S Features, Options, and Competition

The ITS options list is pretty short—all you can really add are aesthetic tweaks. I think the carbon fiber exterior bits (spoiler is $950, mirror caps $600) look awesome and are worth springing for. The titanium shift knob is also cool, but steep at $200. For some reason, the copper color option for the wheels is $2,000 which seems a little wacky.

Acura identifies the BMW M240i, Mercedes-AMG CLA35, and Audi S3 as the Integra Type S’s main rivals. Frankly, I could understand an argument for buying any of those cars. Or even just picking one based on looks—they’re all neat in their own ways. Only the Acura has three pedals, though.

But for my money, the Integra S’s real dogfight is with the Volkswagen Golf R. The VW may not be quite as luxe, but the power output is similar and it too can be had with a traditional manual transmission. Meanwhile, it’s considerably less money than the Teg, it’s got all-wheel drive, and the hatchback design is going to give it great cargo flexibility and decent headroom for people in the back seat—the latter of which is a real Integra shortcoming.

Value and Verdict

Even in 2023, $50,000 is a lot of money and the Type S is a long way up the ladder from an Integra A-Spec, which rings up at about $36,000.

For historical context, a 2001 Acura GS-R (the luxury performance model) four-door listed for about $23,000 when it was new. Adjusted for inflation, that has the buying power of around $40,000 now. So a 2024 Integra Type S effectively has a 38% price increase over an ’01 GS-R … but it’s also got a 88% power increase, and that’s before we even start thinking about chassis, connectivity, and safety upgrades over the Integra you remember from your last life.

The Integra Type S is certainly not a cheap car, but you’re getting a lot for your money. Frankly, as far as what you can buy new, I’d say it’s one of the best values in performance cars going right now.

Acura has basically created the ultimate old-school tuner car (VTEC, turbo, manual transmission) dressed it in a clean but cool design (fender flares, center exhaust), and tied the package together with a suite of modern safety features you can feel good about putting your family in. On top of all that, the range and customizability of its drive modes let the car match your mood whether you want to trash some tires or fly under the radar.

The Integra Type S is a car that not only has character and personality, it actually has several. Enduringly entertaining to drive, it deserves to be remembered fondly forever.

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