Let’s Talk About the 2023 Acura Integra… — Alex on Autos

The 2023 Acura Integra A-Spec Is An Upscale 6-Speed Civic Si Hatch
The 2023 Acura Integra A-Spec Is An Upscale 6-Speed Civic Si Hatch

2023 Acura Integra, exterior, grey

Acura has finally lifted the veil off of the production-spec 2023 Integra. Way back in 2019, I caught wind of the brand’s intent to replace the aging ILX compact sedan with a sportier hatchback. At the time, I did not know it would resurrect the nostalgic Integra name, but here we are 10 years after the ILX originally debuted with a controversial replacement. One thing both Alex and I can say for certain is….the haters are all wrong about it.

Press Release

When Acura showed off the Integra prototype in 2021, many people were disappointed to see it looked like a re-skinned Honda Civic. There were complaints that it should have been more daring, have better proportions, maybe even only have two doors. All in the name of nostalgia over the original Integra. Now that we have the full picture, the disdain for this car continues to grow at a rapid pace. The problem with all of this is the fact that enthusiasts and Acura loyalists seem to have forgotten the recipe that made the Integra what it always was. This new one sticks to that recipe as closely as possible while keeping it at a reasonable price. Let’s dive in.

The 2023 Acura Integra is a style-forward compact hatchback that will compete with BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Audi A3, and to an extent, Lexus UX. Acura decided to set its new entry-level model apart from its competition by giving it a hatchback five door design. The ILX it replaces debuted way back during the ‘Gangnam Style’ era in 2012, and went through two major successive refreshes. It became the oldest offering in the segment, but outsold every other model in its competitive set. That includes the combination of BMW 2-Series Coupe/Convertible and Gran Coupe. Like the ILX and all previous Integras, the 2023 is based heavily on the Honda Civic.

Despite what many have said and will continue to say, this is exactly what Acura should have done. Looking at the design, the dash-to-axle ratio is shorter than the TLX, yielding less elegant proportions but better space efficiency. Being a hatchback will position it as a worthy challenger to the ever popular small crossovers. No one buys three door hatchbacks or two door coupes, so there was no way Acura was going to take that risk. At 185.8 inches long, it is longer than old ILX and the Mercedes-Benz CLA. It will actually be closer in size to BMW 3-series and Audi A4 than the A3, for example. Though we haven’t sat in one yet, there is a good chance the rear seat will be more accommodating than the larger TLX’s.

So where do the bulk of its controversies lie? That would be the powertrain and interior departments. The Integra will come standard with the Civic Si’s 1.5L turbo 4-cylinder with 200hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. It will also keep the CVT found in the Civic instead of the ILX’s dual-clutch. What did you expect for what will likely end up being the least expensive option in the segment? Acura is targeting a $30k-$35k price range. A manual transmission will be available on the top trim only. It is expensive to perform fuel economy testing, so Acura likely chose to recoup those costs by restricting the option to the models with the highest profit margins.

Up front there is no double wishbone front suspension, like many wished for. However, when a Porche 911 and BMW 3-Series can get away with Macpherson struts, the Integra most certainly can, too. They are lighter and yield more comfort during highway driving. Adaptive dampers will only be available on the top A-Spec Tech trim, like the manual. It gets a ton of other nice features, such as the incredible ELS Studio audio system and a head-up display. One thing missing that even I had hoped Acura would make optional? Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). Unfortunately, it isn’t here.

In regards to the interior, all Integras will stick with synthetic leather. Again, this helps keep a 3 at the front of the MSRP instead of a 4. The design is extremely Civic-like, with the same LCD instrument cluster, 7- or 9- inch infotainment screens, and UI from Honda, not Acura’s True Touchpad system. Creating an entirely unique interior with the True Touchpad would have jacked the price up significantly. The Honda interface is simply easier to use. That top A-Spec Tech trim receives wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well.

People seem to have forgotten why Honda made the original Integra in the first place. Acura will tell you even today that it was never designed to be a 3-Series-fighting sports car. Its mission in life is to serve as a value-packed sporty car that gets you a ticket into the brand. There is no official word yet on the existence of a Type S model, but with the introduction of the MDX Type S, anything is possible. One can hope that it will throw in the lovely SH-AWD setup? Otherwise, we believe Acura made all of the right moves with the 2023 Integra in order to balance style and value, both hallmarks of its name.

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