Acura has announced that production of the much-anticipated 2023 Integra has officially commenced in Marysville, Ohio. Deliveries of the iconic nameplate are said to commence in June and orders can be placed now.
But with pricing having revealed the starting MSRP of $31,895 — over three grand more than the mechanically similar Honda Civic Si — one wonders if the public interest has held strong. We now know that we’re effectively getting a revamped version of the ILX (also based on the Civic) with a steeper price tag and a more desirable name. The Integra comes with a 200-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four, mated to either a continuously variable automatic (CVT) or a six-speed manual transmission. But the CVT is standard, forcing customers that want a manual to spend $36,895 (including destination) for the A-Spec — which also comes with adaptive dampers, sportier looks, a limited-slip differential, and Acura’s technology package.
While the tech niceties are probably sufficient in justifying the price bump, every version of the Integra still comes with 200-hp and 192 lb-ft of torque driving the front wheels. This may make it difficult to rationalize for those seeking a performance bargain, as there are quicker vehicles priced very near the Integra. While the majority of these are small hatchbacks and base-trimmed performance coupes utilizing turbocharged fours, there are also several V6-powered sedans hovering around $35,000.
It may not be entirely fair to call the Nissan Maxima a sports car. But the model does offer a 300-hp, 3.5-liter V6 for roughly the same money as the A-Spec. We are dubious that it’ll be able to hang with the Integra squealing around corners and are disappointed it also comes with a CVT. But it’s a very comfortable cruiser and likely to embarrass the Acura in a straight line.
Toyota also sells V6-powered versions of the Camry and consumers may still find leftover examples of the criminally underrated 2022 Avalon for roughly $35,000 on the same lot. Subaru has even softened the all-wheel-drive WRX to make it more adept at daily driving for the 2023 model year — and it’s almost assured to be the quicker car when lined up alongside the upcoming Integra. But if creature comforts are less important, Honda offers the nearly identical Civic Si for $28,315 and the 306-hp Type-R retails (without dealer markups) for roughly the same amount as Acura’s A-Spec.
Where exactly is the Integra supposed to find its niche? Honda has a solid reputation for delivering models that don’t appear all that impressive on paper and still manage to become legendary performance vehicles for offering high levels of satisfaction from behind the wheel. But the Integra looks to be little more than a direct replacement for the ILX, running with an emissions-friendly 1.5-liter (rather than the ILX’s 2.4-liter) and loaded up with tech. Only a portion of the recipe appears to be directed at the hardcore enthusiasts salivating over their rose-tinted memories of the previous Integra — leaving us with a model that’s effectively the luxury variant of the Civic Si.
If that’s to be the case, there’s little doubt that the 2023 Acura Integra will be a ball of fun when tossed around a corner. But it’s hard to see it shining quite so brightly when the Hyundai Elantra N and Volkswagen Jetta GLI are lurking nearby with lower price tags. Obviously, we need to see it dance before making any real conclusions. Though this nagging feeling that the market for a near-premium sedan with sporting pretensions might not be as robust as the automaker needs has persisted.
Maybe we’re all just waiting for that Type-R engine to drop. But what say you? Are you still interested in the upcoming Acura or is the Integra just the next ILX leveraging a nostalgic name?
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