A Reborn Premium and Sporty Compact
One of our most memorable experiences was driving a brand-new Acura Integra GSR in the mid-1990’s. It was fun to drive, had a smooth high-revving and responsive engine and a slick shifting manual transmission. Yet, it was practical and comfortable. It was a terrific car that left an impression.
When Acura brought back the Integra name in 2022 for the 2023 model year, it reminded us of our first experience behind the wheel of that old Integra. We recently had a quick drive in the new 2023 Acura Integra and realized how similar its purpose is, but how different it feels.
It’s powered by a direct injected 1.5L DOHC VTEC turbo engine that makes 200 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 192 lb.-ft. @ 1,800–5,000 rpm. Acceleration doesn’t feel fast, especially at lower engine speeds and immediately after off/on throttle applications. It has a linear power band and a flat torque curve which aids in the smoothness of the delivery. A helical limited-slip differential helps transfer the power to the road by minimizing front-wheel slippage. Applying full throttle on dry roads from a stop results in a minimal amount wheel spin. We didn’t measure the acceleration times, but would estimate a mid-seven second range from 0 to 60 mph.
The close ratio 6-speed manual transmission has a narrow grip shift knob with short throws and a precise, high-quality gated shift feel. However, we experienced a little resistance in our test model when shifting from first to second gear. The clutch feel is light, with a high engagement point.
There are four drive modes included with the Technology Package, which can be selected by toggling a switch to the left of the shifter: Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual, each with different settings for engine sound, throttle response, steering, and dampers. The variable ratio electronic power steering feels firm and responsive, especially in Sport mode. The ride and handling are sporty, but comfortable. The engine has a pleasant sound all the way to the 6,500 rpm redline, with a slightly more aggressive sound in Sport mode. Braking feel is strong with a firm pedal feel.
The interior of the Integra is a nice place to be. The quality of the interior is a step up from the lower trim levels. The Technology Package includes microsuede-trimmed front seats with exclusive stitch, 12-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, which is very comfortable and supportive for my 6’1” 180 lb. frame, 16-speaker ELS premium audio, dual automatic climate control, 9-inch touchscreen display, 5.3-inch head-up display, wireless charging pad (Qi), parking sensors (front and rear), wireless Apple CarPlay® integration & Android Auto™ Integration and more.
You’ll have to be careful entering the cabin through the rear doors as it’s easy to hit your head on the sloping roofline. Don’t ask me how I know that. Once seated I had limited head room which would rub against the headliner if not sitting straight up. Rear legroom was more generous than the headroom.
The Liftback design has a wide opening to access the cargo area. Cargo room is generous at 24.3 cu. ft. and is maximized when you fold down the 60/40 split rear seatback.
Contrary to what the name implies, the new Integra not an evolution of the old Integra. Instead, it’s a rebirth where Acura justified reusing the name by meeting certain technical specifications, and incorporating some key features and options. Compared the Honda Civic Si that it’s based off of, the Integra is more luxurious and has a more comfortable ride. These qualities make it a better daily driver, but at an additional cost. Compared to the old Integra, the new engine lacks the high revving naturally aspirated charm, but has more modern technology throughout. We look forward to future higher performance versions of this car, such as a Type S to bring this car to the next level. With these future enhancements, the new Integra may eventually be admired by a new generation of buyers similar to how the old Integra is admired by the older generation.
Package: A-Spec® w/ Technology (6MT)
MSRP: Starting at $35,800
Engine: 1.5L Direct Injection DOHC VTEC Turbo
HP: 200 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 192 lb.-ft. @ 1,800–5,000 rpm
Redline: 6,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Drive: Front Wheels
Fuel Economy: 26/36/30 (City/Highway/Combined)