Pricing in Canada starts at $34,350 in Canada and $30,800 in the US.
The Elite A-Spec is priced at $42,550 and is the only version available with a manual transmission.
The extremely excellent 2023 Honda Civic Si goes for $33,130.
I’m not sure how to start this test. In fact, and this is not complicated: I love the Honda product as a whole. I will add that Acura used to be one of my favorite car brands, but I changed my mind completely in the late 2000s. Without delving into the details, I allowed myself to forgive them for their offenses until recently.
The return of the Integra name to Acura’s lineup was as much of a shock to me as it was to Mustang fans when the Mach-E was announced. Of the many monikers in Acura’s repertoire, the seven-letter word is Acura’s second most sacred word, so I shouldn’t be surprised that they dared to risk sullying it – I still believe they blew it with the NSX, so why not do the same thing with “Integra“?
This time, however, Acura didn’t miss. At the same time, they shot themselves in the foot by raising expectations to a dangerously high level and indirectly insisting on comparisons with the beautiful 11th-generation Honda Civic Si. I want to mention that I have nothing against badge engineering as it allows manufacturers to amortize expenses, but in my opinion, Honda should have saved the name for a short while more.
The bottom line is that Honda/Acura knew exactly what they were doing when they selected the name. They expected the criticism, for many people to point out that the “Integra” name doesn’t fit within Acura’s current naming scheme, and countless comparisons to be made with Honda Civic Si.
An amended Civic Si and not necessarily for the better
Tastes differ, but the Civic Si‘s bodywork is far more homogeneous and elegant than the Integra’s. Physically, the only advantage of the latter is the presence of its hatchback, nothing more. The car takes many visual cues from other Acura models, including the Jewel Eye LED headlights available on the A-Spec version. The A-Spec also adds a spoiler on the tailgate and carbon fibre-like appliqué.
The interior, which is well done, takes everything that’s good about the new Civic and adds smooth surfaces and a little more texture here and there. Describing the Integra’s dashboard as more luxurious is accurate, if only just, but the Honda’s could easily replace it and no one would notice the difference.
That’s not the case with the front seats. The Civic Si’s seats offer massive lateral support for the backrest as well as for the buttocks and hips. The seats in the Integra Elite A-Spec we tested are flat and offer minimal support.
A Honda Civic Si + on the road
I’m not a religious person, but my God the Integra is good to drive. Honda builds by far the most rewarding front-wheel drive cars in the world. The driver feels involved in the action as it transmits a constant flow of information to the driver. That’s why it’s not for everyone, just like the Civic Si.
Like the Si, the Integra is not intended for drag racing. Its turbocharged engine produces generous torque at low engine speeds, and you can’t help but fall under its spell. Like a good Honda engine, it is responsive and always very taut. In fact, this is only the result of the old butt-o-meter, but the Integra gives the impression that it’s got a little more muscle than the Si. The powerband seems more generous if only by a few percentage points.
Equipped with the excellent 6-speed manual transmission, the only thing refined about the Integra is the perfect execution of its mechanical components. Shifting gears is a pure delight. Pedal placement for heel-toe is perfect, the shifter travel provides a satisfying mechanical sound – one thinks he or she is a manual-driving God – I guess the Integra brings out my religious side… The steering is heavy and optimal in normal mode and the brakes are powerful. Basically, it made me misbehave all week.
The Acura’s clear advantage over the Honda is limited to adjustable shocks. With the help of the driving modes and especially the “Individual” option, the degree of damping can be adjusted to suit the driver’s wants and needs. The configurable mode allows you to select “normal” damping and “sport” balance (steering, engine) to make even the worst roads in Quebec enjoyable and exhilarating.
Cross-shopping the Audi A3? Wrong store
Like the Civic Si, the Integra isn’t trying to please everyone, despite what Acura suggests. This is why it’s not an alternative to the Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz CLA, or BMW 2 Series. Plain and simple, the latter three are not entirely driver’s cars. However, step away from the A-Spec 6MT trim, opt for the CVT, and I suspect that the driving experience will be far different.
And about the 6-speed manual, though the take rate might be high now, it will quickly taper off. There’s a very finite number of drivers that will select the $42,550 Integra A-Spec 6MT over the Civic Si (or even the Volkswagen Jetta GLI) for the roughly $8,000 premium. The new CVT-laden Integra will probably find eventual success in its lower trims as an alternative to pricier Benzes and Bimmers, as has always been the case.