2024 Acura Integra Type S Review: The Integra You’ve Been Waiting For
If your memories of Integras are all about affordable speed, this is the car you need.
When the new Acura Integra debuted back in 2022, the reaction probably wasn’t quite what parent company Honda was hoping for. In the decade and a half since the nameplate left production, previous generations had become renowned, even beloved, by the motoring masses. Even though the new fourth-gen model managed to perform the minor miracle of offering a manual gearbox in a new luxury-brand car, the lack of a two-door version — among other perceived faults — meant fans were lukewarm to its debut.
First drive impressions of the new Integra only reinforced that mixed reaction. Even here at Gear Patrol, opinions have varied; my colleague Tyler Duffy found the car disappointing, even in stick-shift form, while I personally found it a stylish, compelling entry-level luxury option.
But here’s the thing: while the new Integra may be suffering under the impossible standards of living up to nostalgic expectations, the version at launch wasn’t meant to be the version that lived up to those hopes and dreams. Many people’s expectations were set not by the base car of yore — which was always a glammed-up Civic — but by high-performance versions like the Integra Type R and GS-R, affordable speed machines that became popularized by racing video games and second-hand ownership.
The successor to the legacy of those iconic cars is the Acura Integra Type S. The mechanical bits and bobs are largely familiar; they’re by and large pulled from the incredible Honda Civic Type R, much as the regular Integra borrows much from the Civic Si. But while the Civic Type R is no-holds-barred dedicated to performance, the Integra Type S aims to blend that same level of joie du conduire with the premium features that are to be expected with The Big A. To find out if Acura was able to pull that off, I headed off to Ojai, California to drive the car a few weeks before it hits the first owners’ hands in late June.
2024 Acura Integra Type S: What We Think
Fair or not, Acura needed to nail the Type S in order to save the Integra’s reputation — and the brand pulled it off with flying colors. The Integra Type S delivers the same sort of incredible fun and snappy performance that characterized the Civic Type R and Honda’s other great driving cars, but builds on the Type R by offering better looks and greater creature comforts. Factor in the fact that it’s not that much more expensive than its hot Honda sibling, and the Type S makes a very compelling case for itself. In fact, it makes a strong case for being one of the best all-around cars a driving enthusiast could buy for $50,000 or so.
If there’s a flaw in the Civic Type R’s armor, it’s arguably the car’s appearance; restrained though it may be compared to the previous version, which looked like a refugee from anime, it still is hardly what would be described as an attractive car. Its big air intakes and Boeing-scale wing certainly look purposeful, but ultimately, the looks are very much Civic Hatchback — not a bad thing at $25,000, but a much less appealing proposition at nearly twice that.
The Integra Type S, however, managed to much more elegantly blend aggression into its design. The added width — 2.8 inches over the regular Integra, with a 3.5-in wider track up front and a 1.9-in one in rear — gives it a confident stance from just about any angle. It’s dialed up well beyond the treatment given to the other mainstream Type S models, the MDX Type S and TLX Type S, and all the better for it.
In back, the triple exhaust — the sole exterior design element tying it to the Civic Type R — juts out confidently from the center of the aggressive aero-focused rear facia. Acura made a point of explaining how the active exhaust changes its note based on the car’s drive mode, but even with the windows down, I didn’t notice much of a difference between them. (Then again, I’d spent the previous day driving a Porsche 911 GT3 up and down the canyons — more on that soon — so my standards for automotive soundtracks may have been a bit skewed.)
One other note on the stern looks: while the Type S technically comes with all the performance goodies, I’d be sure to save an extra $950 for the dealer-accessory carbon fiber lip spoiler seen here. The stock spoiler is the same as the one found on the Integra A-Spec, a miniscule body color thing that doesn’t do justice to the Type S. (Acura clearly thinks so, too; every single test car brought out for journalists was equipped with the add-on spoiler.)
If the exterior of the Civic Type R doesn’t quite seem up to the standards of a $45K car, the interior is perhaps even less worthy of the price. Other than the red gauges, it’s the same as every other Civic — nice for a starter car, but not a sports icon. Speaking of red, hope you like it, because the Civic Type R’s floorboards, seatbelts and front buckets are swathed in it. Those buckets, in turn, are great for track work, but their tight embrace grows wearisome over long drives.
For the extra $7,705 that it takes to spring into the Type S, however, you score a much more calm, livable interior. The front chairs are still supportive, but much more casual about it; they’re comfortable enough for all-day road trips. The dashboard is the same as the Civic’s below the surface, but the extra design elements do a lot to jazz up the looks. (The leather strip on the passenger’s side is a touch that delighted me more than I expected.)
And with the Integra Type S, you also score the following features that you can’t have on the Civic Type R: a killer 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D stereo, a heads-up display, power-operating driver’s seat, heated seats for both front occupants, and, of course, a shift knob that won’t necessarily burn your hand every time you use it on a hot day.
The engine may only displace two liters, but thanks to the wonders of turbocharging, VTEC and other technological marvels, Acura has managed to squeeze 320 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque from its party-size-soda-bottle-worth of air and fuel. (That’s five more ponies than the Type R, which is effectively an academic difference.)
Now, in the past, that sort of power being routed solely through the front wheels (as it goes here) would result in the gnarly condition known as torque steer — the situation when the power heading to the wheels yanks the car off-course. Honda’s engineers, however, have worked incredible magic here; like the Civic Type R, the Integra Type S exhibits practically zero torque steer, even at full power. Instead, the car simply goes exactly where you want it to. Push it through turns, and the Type S feels incredibly well-balanced; it never feels threatening or scary, simply scary-quick.
Adding to the fun, of course, is the six-speed manual gearbox, which requires you hands and feet to stay active and rewards your attention with an added layer of involvement that makes the car even more delightful on a winding road. It doesn’t require the ability to heel-and-toe, however; the gearbox offers automatic rev-matching, blipping the throttle automatically.
The clutch pedal is heavier and shorter-traveling than the one in the regular Integra A-Spec, adding a much-appreciated feeling of substance. Indeed, that sort of feeling permeates much of the car; where the regular Integra feels almost dainty when you use it, the Type S feels burly and strong.
Credit for the amazing ability to put down the power goes to the limited-slip differential, but also to the tires — 265/30/19-sized Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer ones, the same size all around. They’re the same ones found on the Civic Type R, and as such offer a similarly impressive level of grip. That said, the alloy wheels used by the Acura are much better looking — especially in the optional bronze colorway.
The adaptive dampers, meanwhile, didn’t have much of a chance to really show off their varied capabilities on the smooth roads I drove it along; the few opportunities I had to play with them on bumpy pavement revealed a small but noticeably improved ability to polish out road imperfections in the more comfortable of the modes. Still, the ride is hardly punishing in any situation … though, again, after a 911 GT3, most any car would feel more plush.
Just like the regular Integra, the Type S is plenty usable for the monotonous day-to-day. The front seats are more than roomy enough for folks even well over six feet; fitting four aboard comfortably will probably require all occupants to be below that mark, but I could have squeezed an adult behind my six-four frame if I didn’t mind cinching up close to the wheel for a while. Thanks in part to the hatchback design, you can squeeze more than 24 cubic feet of stuff in back, assuming you don’t mind blocking your view (and enjoy playing a little Jenga when packing). And if the Civic Type R is anything to go by, you can expect to get around 28 mpg on the highway.
The only odd note, really, lies in the center of the second row: in lieu of a mediocre fifth seat, there’s a pair of fixed cupholders planted in the leather bench. It’s also found in the back seat of the Civic Type R, suggesting perhaps that some engineer at Honda has a hangup about making sure every occupant of their performance cars has easy access to beverages at all times.
Apart from the aforementioned mechanically similar Civic Type S — which, in all honesty, is different enough in character that few will likely cross-shop it, even if its performance is comparable — the primary competitors to the Type S come from other luxury brands.
Assuming you want four doors and ample driving fun, the Audi S3, Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 and BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe would be the closest competitors. All of those boast all-wheel-drive, which is helpful for springing off the line and winter grip (although a good pair of snow tires remains more important than your driven wheels), but in my experience, they’re also a bit tighter in back than the Integra.
And of course, none of those offer the option of a manual gearbox. If you want that, you’re either stuck losing a couple doors (i.e. the BMW M2, Ford Mustang GT, Toyota GR Supra 3.0) or going downmarket (Subaru WRX, GR Corolla). If you want something nice that’s fun to drive, has decent room for four and a stick shift, well, the list of new cars you should consider in 2023 effectively starts and stops with the Integra Type S.
Base Price / Price as Tested: $52,595 / $53,785
Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four; six-speed manual; front-wheel-drive
Torque: 310 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: Not Yet Rated