The year was 2000. Favorite CD? Papa Roach. My shorts? Jorts. My dream car? An Acura Integra. My part time job? The local municipal golf course.
Look, $6.25 an hour was clearly not going to pay for anything more costly than an extra value meal so I did the next best thing: I dated a girl who drove a GS Integra. And BAW GAWD ALMIGHTY, as Jim Ross would say, I loved that car. That summer we’d rip around all over northern California bumping Ludacris, Eminem, and Moby. (It was the early 2000s. I apologize for nothing.) There were a handful of occasions where she would let me drive it, and every time I was blown away. The handling was taught – especially compared to my 1972 Mustang — and, despite a mere 140 horses under the hood, it had a high redline and accelerated quickly. The curb weight was just a tad over a ton so you didn’t so much drive the car as wear it. Later that fall she got a more powerful GS-R, transferred schools, and moved 500 miles away. (These things happen when you’re 19.) I never got behind the wheel of an Integra again.
That was until last week when I headed down to Ojai, CA to drive the 2024 Integra Type S, the newest and most powerful version of Acura’s resurrected Integra line. The 320 horsepower turbocharged 2.0 liter comes standard with a six speed manual (an incredible rarity these days) and launches later this summer. At first the Type S seems to be Honda’s way of offering a more luxurious version of its Type R hatchback. But after spending some time with it, I think it’s also a pretty serious contender against some of the German fast four doors like the similarly specced Audi S3 and BMW’s m235i. Can it hang with the big M series and AMG sleds? Nah, but that’s not what the Type S is for anyway.
The first thing that I noticed when I sealed myself in the cockpit is that the new Integra is a lot like the old Integra. That feeling of wearing the car? Yeah the Type S fits you like a bespoke suit. The clutch is light and responsive and the titanium shift knob gives a pleasant click when thrown. It hugged the twisty roads around Ojai like the R19 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires were coated in super glue. The engine’s redline was at an impressively high 7000 RPM and the tri exhaust tailpipe emitted a pleasant rumble that was not aggressively hey-look-at-me deep nor overly import-tuned whiny. There was quite a bit of road noise – more than you’d expect for a car at a $50K price point — but it’s hard to notice when revving that lively 2.0-liter. And I’m sure I’ll change my tune when stuck in stop and go traffic but there is something uniquely satisfying about gunning that engine on a desolate straightaway and slapping the shifter from third to fourth.
If there’s anything that threw me off about the Type S (and this is really a grouse about the entire Integra line) it’s that the car’s overall design isn’t all that eye grabbing. From 1993 to 2001 Honda made the Integra stand the hell out with its quad headlights. The new Integra’s styling – while perfectly pleasant and completely serviceable – isn’t one that is going to have people snapping their heads.
Right after my drive I was puzzled about who the Type S ($51,995) is aimed at. It doesn’t quite have the refinement of some of its German counterparts. Who was this car for, really? And then it dawned on me. The Integra Type S is for guys like me. Guys who have fond memories of turn of the millennium era Integras. Guys who had posters of Integras on their walls growing up. Guys who have now traded their jorts for Aime Leon Dore and maybe only listen to P-Roach on special occasions. The Integra Type S is the grown-ass sporty car for that now grown-ass guy.