By on August 19, 2021


Last week, we reported on Acura’s plans to bring back the Integra. In the article, I hinted at how Acura can go about getting it right.

I’d like to expand on that.

First off, the car has to be worthy of the extra price tag that the Acura name commands. It’s likely going to be a Honda Civic underneath, and that’s fine, but the car will need to feel special, inside and out, in order to justify a higher price tag. That will mean features that are optional on most Civics should be standard, and maybe a few things should be standard or available on the Integra that aren’t on the Civic. The interior materials better look and feel even nicer than that of the top-trim Civic.

Second, the car better look good, at least to most eyes. A sexy Integra will sell better than an ugly one. Also, the sun rises in the east, you know.

Third, and this is key, the Integra needs to offer performance. I see Acura going in two directions with this. One way to go would be to offer the base car as a bit more luxurious, but still fun to drive, while offering something equivalent to the Si, and a Civic Type R-based Type S. The other way would be to just offer the car as a performance luxury car with Si and Type R equivalents. I suppose Honda/Acura could also just offer a base car and Si equivalent, leaving the Type R to Honda, but I suspect that could be a mistake.

Fourth, and related to the previous paragraph — the car better offer a freakin’ manual. I know manuals are often irrelevant, but if Acura wants to make this a performance car, it will be taken more seriously if at least one trim level offers three pedals. And if that manual is offered with any and all engines and doesn’t require a sacrifice of creature comforts.

All told, if Acura can strike a nice luxury/performance balance in a car priced not too far north of the Civic, the brand can have a hit on its hands. An RSX for the next generation. Something that makes us forget about the underwhelming (though still fun to drive) ILX. A performance car for the moneyed up-and-coming middle manager.

Or it could swing and miss. I hope that isn’t the case. So let me be that auto journalist who decides to tell a brand how to build a car despite having no product planning experience or access to internal financials. Let me dream, and let’s hope Acura listens.

[Image: Acura]

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29 Comments on “Opinion: How Acura Can Avoid Messing Up the Integra...”

  • avatar

    Considering how they have improved the TLX I don’t think they will be making any mistakes. The real key is to see how many people actually want to buy a small luxury car.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I’m having a real problem with this concept, and I am not directing this at you Fred. Would anyone ever have considered an Integra of any generation a small luxury car? You could, for the majority of the name run at least, get an Integra with cloth, manual seats.
      It was a reasonably priced sporty car – which is what any car with its name should be. Sure, you could get a Type-R for a couple years, which they should definitely do with the new one, but otherwise it doesn’t really have to be anything special – just good.

    • 0 avatar

      Integra never was a “luxury car”.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2021 TLX is another Acura product that has been recommended by Consumer Reports. Not a single Acura vehicle is recommended today by them.

      Could this break the streak?

  • avatar

    Opinion: I would like to marry the prettiest and sweetest woman in town

    “the brand can have a hit on its hands”

    Lol, this is delusional stuff Tim. Even in the unlikely event that Acura could hit your wishlist (manual transmissions! good styling! Type-R performance! luxury materials! reasonable price!) the market for this kind of thing is dead outside of YouTubers and internet weirdos.

  • avatar

    Immediate fail if its not a two door hatchback. And it needs to be not-ugly inside and out. Simple clean lines with uncomplicated cabin that has nice materials. Sounds easy but Honda has somehow forgotten what made the older cars so great thus confidence is low. Given the assumed no manual (shameful but I get it) how about snappy DCT then?

  • avatar

    For what definition of “hit”? Are you asking if auto journalists and/or enthusiasts will think it’s good? Or are you asking if it will be a sales success? If the latter, what definition of “success”? What are the sales projections for the car?

    Passenger car sales are, in general, on the decline. There isn’t much market left for 2- or 3-door “coupes”.

    • 0 avatar

      Unlike many others in this debate, my daily driver’s a 15 year old Miata I bought new so I’m starting to get the itch. Not excited by the 86/BRZ and I want something stronger than the Civic Si, but not with the Type-R’s body shape and, er, styling. So it was 99% likely I was headed back to the Mazda store.

      And then THIS happened.

      So I’ll be watching how events unfold REAL closely with this. I haven’t had reason to set foot in an Acura dealer since cross-shopping the Integra in 1999 when I ended up getting a Prelude instead.

  • avatar

    I dont know if they’re real or not but there are full pics and camo pics of this car on instagram. It looks just like a 1994 Type R with modern touches.

  • avatar

    “A performance car for the moneyed up-and-coming middle manager.”

    I think if this is the demographic Acura is targeting, the battle is already lost.

    The 90s Integras started in the high $20s inflation adjusted, and even the Type R was under $40K adjusted.

    If it takes someone moneyed, or in middle management, to afford one of these, the better performance options start piling up quickly.

  • avatar

    I owned a 95 coupe (bought new). I really liked it at the time and kept until we had our 2nd child. Then sold for a new CR-V. My kids are grown up now. I don’t need two big family cars anymore. I would definitely be in the market for this. I think it should be coupe only (why have two sedans in this marketplace?) Lexus has the RC and rumors of something based on the Toyota/Subaru coupe coming up. BMW still has coupes, as well as Nissan’s new Z, the miata, etc. People still buy some coupes/convertibles. I know it is not a huge market, so keep costs low by using as much as possible underneath that exists elsewhere in the Honda stable.

    I would like to see Civic Si+ in terms of performance for base integra with automatic and manual options, then maybe Type S (or GS-R?) with closer to CTR performance as higher end manual only model. I don’t need it to be luxury car. Keep it from getting heavy and make the design stand out while respecting the design heritage of Gens 1-3.

  • avatar

    I’m right there with you, but I am skeptical the Honda motor company will disappoint. You are right about what it will take to get there but good luck.
    I hate to say it but having owned a 95 Integra GSR 5spd and a 2004 Rsx types-S 6spd. It seems impossible to replicate the simplicity and genuine great feel these cars drove as good as they look. Affordable,great gas mileage and low maintenance really gave Acura a edge over other luxury brands.
    Honda in general seems to have lost what I loved about them the most. The company is not alone.
    I just hope they try like Nissans New/old Z car to bring back some glory.
    Hate to keep being negative but tis the same thing as us/future generations not get to experience those pure automotive connections. The experience of what it was like to have t tops off in my 94 Nissan 300zx non turbo 5spd. The Integra also had a Ora, a real soul. Those were cars once you drove them, very hard to drive anything else. I could keep on pontificating but you get the point. I’ll keep an eye out for more exciting news on the Intergra. Please three pedals!

  • avatar

    My generation (Gen X) grew up loving the Integra (and the CRX and the Prelude, but that’s for another time), and I think that’s what Honda/Acura needs to focus on. Kids are getting older and could already be off to college. Won’t need extra space especially if the significant other keeps the CUV. Stable career equals extra spending money. Haven’t quite hit the bad back/bad hip phase of life (but the knees tell me it’s coming), so jacked up off of the ground isn’t needed.

    I think there are going to be mainly a 4 door and/or 5 door offered. As much as I liked the coupes, especially the RSX Type-S and Integra Type-R, I don’t see them investing much into an Acura version.

    So, the base starts with the Civic Si bones and the Integra Type-R or Type-S uses the Civic Type-R bones. The new Civic has an improved interior, but some extra luxury and sport trappings such as better seats, stereo, and materials wouldn’t hurt to justify the price tag.

    And then I think they do what they did with the RSX. The base will get the choice between the automatic and manual, and the CTR-based one gets manual only.

    It gets tricky with pricing because there is that huge gap in Civic pricing. Last year, a Civic Si could be had in the mid-20s while the CTR was upper 30’s. That is around a $13,000+ gap. You could get by with selling a base Integra for around $30,000 but I can’t envision a world where a $50,000 CTR-based Integra will sell. The price might have to closely match the new CTR and toes might get stepped on.

    Like the new Z, this might be a case of a one-and-done generation – one last gasp before more models are forced into electrification but between this and the new Z and redone Toyota/Subaru twins, there still is a bit of hope for one more generation of affordable (all things considered) fun.

  • avatar

    The big question to me is body style. I don’t think there’s enough volume here for two styles, and I don’t know which it will be. On the one hand, it seems like The Internet has forgotten that there were Integra sedans in two of the three generations and both of them were amazingly good. If it is sedan-only, those people will howl to the moon, totally ahistorically, about how it’s a betrayal of the Integra name. On the other hand, would anyone really buy a three-door coupe at this point? It’s just not a body style that the modern consumer seems to want in any size class. i think a sedan would sell better.

    Pricing seems easier: in line with the rest of the Acura lineup at a 10%-20% premium over the closest Honda relative, depending on feature content. I could easily see a 1.5T version that’s a Civic Sport derivative for under $30k and a 2.0T version using the TLX powertrain at $35K before Advance package.

  • avatar

    The RSX from the early 2000s would be a good starting point. Looked good and drove well. From what I remember, the base model was the better choice as a daily driver. The S model had more power, but only at higher RPMs, and a less comfortable suspension.

  • avatar

    I can’t imagine it won’t be a CUV, they have a choice, CUV and sell a few, coupe/sedan build one to gather dust in each Acura showroom in North America.

  • avatar

    With the direction the NSX and TLX-(S) have gone, I’m not seeing the return of the DC2 GSR here. I think a ‘sport hybrid’ is inevitable (even if it’s not the only drivetrain) which pretty much eliminates a MT (the hybrid system won’t be IMA so it’s not likely to be MT compatible), possibly paired with SH-AWD (would this be why the 11G Civic doesn’t have the giant center storage anymore to make room in the floorpan for AWD here?)

    The Gen-Xers who still want the DC2 can still get or already have the Civic Si/R (I fall into that demo). This would be for the Xers who still wax nostalgic about those days but are a bit more mature and are looking for something smaller and less expensive than a TLX-S.

  • avatar

    I’m sure that Acura will do whatever they can to snatch mediocrity from the jaws of greatness! They lost the plot years ago!

    The Integra was always a Civic-sized Accord in execution, a good thing! The Accord has always had a higher-quality feel than the Civic, and the Integra felt the same way. (And of course the ‘Teg could out-handle an Accord, as well!)

    Now, unless I’m wrong, you can’t even get all the kit in a TLX Type-S that you can in an Accord! No foglights?! WTF!! If I’m buying the top-shelf vehicle in the lineup, I want the thing one way! Fully! Loaded!

  • avatar

    I think a lot of people–us–will be happy if the new Integra isn’t a crossover or a three-row SUV.

  • avatar

    Presumably this is going to be based on the latest generation Civic, which is already a much better starting point than the ILX based on the post financial crisis 9th gen.

    Like everyone else, I’m guessing we’re getting the 1.5L and 2.0L turbos from the Civic and the 10AT from Accord, maybe MT. Any chance for the SH-AWD seen in all other Acura models? If so, it could be one differentiator from the plebeian brother.

    I’m guessing we’ll be getting a “four door coupe” based on the silhouette seen in the drone show. I’m not going to get my hopes up, but I’ll be cautiously optimistic.

  • avatar
    Steve Cohn

    There are pictures of the new Integra being tested at hondacarmodels dot com. The car shown is a 2 door coupe, very wedge shaped, and quite similar to the 2-door integras of the past.

  • avatar

    If the Civic SI is around $27k, Type R around $39k…

    Put the Accord spec 2 liter in the Integra with 260hp, 6 speed / 10 speed, FWD + lsd, 3200lbs and price it at $33k. Call it the GSR and if it’s a success, bring out the type S in a few years with the full Type R drivetrain and make it $45k.

    Seems extremely doable. The only thing I’m genuinely worried about is the curb weight given what a pig the TLX is.

  • avatar

    This is the first ive heard of the Intergra coming back to life. I still surf through CL looking for vintage Gs-rs and type-r’s, so you know im a Integra fan.
    What it needs to have is, a manual, and a Si equivalent. If it can acheive these two things, and look and be priced half decent. I would be happy.

  • avatar

    I have all the faith that Acura will mess this up. Look at the disaster new MDX and TLX. Both weigh at least 200lbs more than they should be and get beaten by Genesis while costing more. The new Integra will be a heavy hybrid. No manual option. No engagement. Acura has been dead for over a decade now. Honda fanboys just refuse to tell them that.

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