The return of the Acura Integra, which made a comeback after 16 years away, has been a homecoming worth celebrating, and when you look at the larger automotive picture, things get even better. The fact that you can buy a performance-oriented hot hatch with a manual transmission in 2023 is noteworthy, and the Integra’s revival adds to what has become a surprisingly vibrant collection of new sporty cars from mainstream automakers.
The cherry on top? Following the release of the new Honda Civic, from which the Integra gets its bones, and subsequent Civic Type R, Acura debuted the high-performance Integra Type S earlier this year, further upping the front-wheel-drive performance ante.
The 2024 Acura Integra Type S, a four-door hatchback that offers a substantial performance boost from the base model, also comes with a huge price hike — almost $20,000. So while the entry-level Integra is indeed an entry-level vehicle, with its $31,500 MSRP, is the $50,800-and-up Type S worth it? For those seeking a practical performance machine, is the Acura value proposition better than those offered by brands like Audi and BMW?
|Vehicle||2024 Acura Integra Type S|
|Vehicle Type||Four-passenger, four-door hatchback|
|Engine||Turbocharged inline-four, 320 HP|
|Fuel Economy||21 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined|
|Availability||As of June 2023|
I spent a week in the Type S trying to find out. I came away from the experience impressed with the vehicle’s performance and smitten with its styling, but it wasn’t hard to see how rivals might be more compelling to certain buyers, especially those used to a premium experience. Which side of the spectrum will you fall on? Let’s find out.
Next-Level Performance, Next-Level Price Tag
By upping the starting price to $50,000, not including fees and a strong chance of dealer markups after that, the Type S is playing in a league with legitimate heavy hitters from around the globe. With competitors that include the Audi S3, BMW M235i xDrive and Mercedes-Benz CLA 35 AMG (competitors that the brand specifically calls out on its website), the Type S has plenty of work to do to stand out.
As the only car among those rivals with front-wheel drive and a manual transmission, the case could be made that the Type S earns its keep as the only genuine enthusiast-oriented car of the bunch. At the same time, the Acura isn’t able to offer the same slate of luxury features you’ll find in the other offerings. The brand name also lacks the cachet it once had, while Audi and BMW have bolstered their reputations in recent years.
It’s also hard to see past the Honda Civic Type R, which offers a strikingly similar experience for thousands less (starting at $43,795). The Acura is heavier, with a tighter backseat and more imposing exterior than the Type R. It’s more comfortable inside, but economical buyers may be less interested in creature comforts than around $7,000 in savings.
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Performance for the money is one of the main areas where the Type S beats the competition. Compared to its Civic Type R sibling, the Acura’s turbocharged inline-four engine (which the two vehicles share) puts out a top 320 horsepower, which is just 5 hp above the Civic. Compared to the aforementioned Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, it tops them by 14, 18 and 19 hp, respectively. Acura isn’t blowing anyone out of the water here, but there are some bragging rights to be had, and in the end, it’s all about staying competitive in this segment.
However, the Integra Type S pricing also places it dangerously close to an entirely new class of performance-oriented cars, including the Audi S4 and Toyota Supra. The line between the segments gets much blurrier when the difference is just a few thousand dollars, making the Type S a hard sell against more capable and luxurious cars.
Daily Driving, Upgraded
Price nitpicking aside, the Integra Type S offers a compelling case in terms of daily driving. Among performance-oriented small cars, it’s a hard vehicle to beat when looking at regular drivability. Its hatchback opens to reveal 24.3 cubic feet of space, and it’s designed to ensure you’ll be able to use it all, opening wide to fit larger, cumbersome items. In comparison, the Audi S3’s trunk measures just 8.3 cubic feet, and the M235i tops out at 15.1, well short of the impressive bar set by the Acura.
Interior storage options are just as strong. The center console is easy to access and large enough to pile plenty of small items and gear, and each door pocket can accommodate large water bottles with ease. Americans will find the cupholders to be Big Gulp-friendly, and there’s a useful storage space at the bottom of the center stack.
Front-seat passengers get deep, impressively supportive buckets, and Acura offers eye-catching contrasting color upholstery options. The seats are heavily bolstered and can feel tight at times, but that security is welcomed when flinging the car around a corner as quickly as possible. Like the new Honda Civic, the Integra offers excellent ergonomics, with all displays and controls within easy reach for the driver. While it’s true that there’s a short leap between the Type S front seats being supportive and too restrictive, they make an excellent companion to the Acura’s on-tap performance, and they look great doing it.
In the backseat, the funky built-in cupholders in the middle are a bit inconvenient, but there’s a decent amount of legroom, and kids will have no trouble climbing into booster seats. That said, the car’s sloping roof and oddly shaped rear door openings make it difficult to install large rear-facing car seats — for those where family practicality is top of mind — and that’s before trying to squeeze in a kid.
The Type S Appeal
If you’re already a converted Acura devotee, you won’t be disappointed by the new top-tier Type S. The driving experience is unequivocally fantastic, and its four-door, four-passenger hatchback design makes the vehicle legitimately practical too.
Its biggest selling point, however, might come down to its relative novelty. The fact that we now have one more hotted-up front-wheel-drive car with a manual transmission is a win, and it should be celebrated — possibly in the form of a new, speedier daily driver in your garage.
If all-out speed is the goal, though, there are quicker cars for around the same money, including the Volkswagen Golf R; and some enthusiasts may prefer rear-wheel-drive cars like the Ford Mustang, the V8 version of which is around $8,000 cheaper than the Acura to start. On the other hand, the Mustang isn’t going to be a hit with families who appreciate things like leg room in the rear seat and space to haul their gear.
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