Pamplin Media Group – 2023 Acura Integra: One of the best sports cars is back

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The 2023 Acura Integra is a stylish and fun to drive compact sport sedan, enhanced by the A-Spec appearance package.

Acura revives is popular and fun to run a performance company after 16 years.

Acura has revived its wildly popular small and sporty Integra as its entry-level model for 2023. But make no mistake, there are no sacrifices to be made when considering the latest version of the Integra. It’s both a comfortable daily driver and serious fun when the slightest opportunity presents itself – especially the six-speed manual transmission I spent a week with.

Although not an official category, sports cars have always been among my favorites. I define them as improved versions of fuel-efficient cars that deliver better performance yet are affordable. They drive better than the basic versions, while not meeting the standards for real sports cars (or even sports coupes), which can be difficult to live with in everyday life.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The 2023 Acrua Integra A-Spec looks good, comes and goes, and drives even better than it looks.

In my mind, sports cars are always small, but can be coupes, sedans or hatchbacks. Performance upgrades included turbochargers and superchargers, V6 engines replacing standard inline fours, four-wheel disc brakes in place of the rear drums, wider wheels and so-called “sport-tuned suspensions,” which ranged from minor to semi-severe tweaks.

Many manufacturers have produced such models over the years with varying results. Honda was one of the most successful, with several performance-oriented versions of its popular Civic, especially the CRX Si. The Honda launched the luxury brand Acura in 1985, it used the CRX Si as the basis for the first Integra, which was produced until 2006.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The interior of the 2023 Acura Integra is well designed and can be equipped with virtually all advanced automotive technologies.

The new Integra has a lot to live up to. Car and Driver magazine named the Integra six times on its annual ten best list: in 1987, 1988 and 1994 through 1997. The GS-R model was specifically named in 1994 and 1995. It made a return to the ten best list as the Acura RSX, in 2002 and 2003. More than a million Integras were sold before production was temporarily halted in 2006.

The Integra 2023 is again based on the Civic Si, this time the all-new version that debuted last year. The Acura shares the turbocharged 1.5-liter inline four and the available six-speed manual transmission. I had a great time testing one in April, but I think the new Integra looks and rides even better.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The front sports bucket seats in the 2023 Acura Integra are comfortable and supportive.

The new Integra is available in three trim levels. The base model starts at $30,800, which is just a few thousand more than the Civic Si, but packed with luxury and technology features, including a 10.2-inch digital gauge package and the company’s excellent AcuraWatch safety system. Next up is the A-Spec version for $2,000 with an appearance package, 18-instead of 17-inch wheels, better tires and more. A Technology Package can be added that includes an Adaptive Damper System, a 9-inch color touchscreen instead of the standard 7-inch version, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Audio, and much more.

For peace of mind and a lower cost of ownership for all 2023 models, the new Acura maintenance program that specifically covers factory scheduled maintenance is performed at a participating Acura dealer for the first two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. The free program includes standard oil and filter changes, tire changes and multi-point inspections and is also fully transferable to subsequent owners while they are in operation. The 2023 Acura Integra also comes standard with three years of AcuraLink services at no additional cost.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The available six-speed manual transmission adds to the driving pleasure of the 2023 Acura Integra.

I tested the top-of-the-line A-Spec Tech version with the six-speed transmission. Over a week of daily driving it was always comfortable and fun. I really like the more aggressive front end of the Integra and the more stylish dashboard. Although it shares the engine and transmission with the Si, it felt faster to me, perhaps because it is 5% stiffer than the Civic hatchback on which the Si is based. It also rides even better thanks to the Adaptive Damper System, which made the suspension feel firmer without ever getting hard.

With the introduction of the 2023 Integra, every Acura model has been new or refreshed over the past two years. Enthusiasts should celebrate the return of the Integra 16-year absence. While it’s Acura’s entry-level model, I think many buyers will be using it for years to come.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The hatchback design extends the usability of the 2023 Acura Integra.

2023 Acura Integra

Base Price: $30,800 (base)

Price as tested: $37,395 (A-Spec technology)

Type: Compact sports sedan

Engine: Turbocharged 1.5-liter (200 hp, 192 lbs-ft)

Transfer: Continuously variable automatic; 6-speed manual transmission

EPA Estimated Mileage: 30/36

Length: 185.8 inches

Curb weight: 3,073 pounds

Final Assembly: Marysville, Ohio

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - A 10.2-inch digital gauge package is standard on the 2023 Acura Integra.

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