Acura wants to shine in the automotive market of the upcoming by honoring the handling and performance-oriented qualities which built its reputation in the past
Asking people what comes to their mind about Acura elicits different answers depending on their age. Older people will quickly name models like the Integra or the NSX and smile while mentioning how nimble and fun they were. Moving to younger folks, do not be surprised if they have no clear image of it. Or worse: if they actually mistake it for Infiniti or Lexus.
It is easy to figure that neither of those associations is desirable. Acura’s emerging image took a blow in the 2000s because of the need to make money. All those sedans and SUVs released then focused on the masses at the expense of the spirited personality of yore; that beak grille design identity did not exactly help. Fortunately, it seems like the whole situation will become much better for everyone.
What is Acura, anyway?
The very first Japanese luxury car brand, founded by Honda in 1986. It started with the Legend, a midsize sedan, and the Integra, a compact coupé or liftback. The former was successful from the beginning for its well-rounded attributes while the latter helped shape Acura’s personality. The division invested in precise dynamics and efficient powertrain, rather than the typical ostentatious idea of luxury.
Sadly, problems appeared in the late 1990s. Japan was facing an economic recession in that entire decade which limited Honda’s budget for new projects. Besides, while the NSX was a great addition to the lineup, the decision to rename Acura cars with alphanumeric codes capped their appeal. The Vigor, for example, had negative feedback for being an upscale version of the Accord eventually renamed TL.
Acura eventually bounced back sales-wise by creating a new line. However, the MDX was only following a market trend; RL and TL sedans could not match the prestige of key rivals; and the compact RSX and TSX were nothing but spruced-up Honda cars. Over time, Acura understood that fresh products were not enough; they needed personality as well. That would only truly come back to its cars in the late 2010s.
How can the new Integra help?
First of all, the car is a “single outfit that works for every occasion”. As Jalopnik comments, the four doors allow you to easily drive three people with you; the liftback body creates great access to the trunk; the overall design is objective and detailed enough to give the coveted upscale feeling; and the powertrain balances smooth demeanor for the city and exciting agility when pushed to its limits.
In other words, the car handles everyday chores quite well, looks great when doing it, and still manages to deliver engaging dynamics when the driver wants to enjoy themselves. Car and Driver informs that its turbocharged 1.5L engine was borrowed from the Civic Si but retuned towards refinement. Then again, if you want the sportiest experience, the A-Spec is the 2023 Acura Integra to get.
Now, none of that means the car skimps on traditional luxury. All seats provide enough comfort for long-distance trips; the floating touchscreen lowers the dashboard and makes the room look bigger; the list of items includes a 12-speaker premium audio system; and there are multiple trim options to choose from. In all cases, you will get a well-equipped car with a truly premium cabin for its category.
What can we expect from now on?
A unique interpretation of luxury. Most companies focus on being superlative, whether by stuffing the car with items or giving it huge engines. Acura intends to stand out by making you want to drive its cars even during a grocery run. That requires tailoring all mechanical components towards a refined behavior rather than forcing you to choose between insipid everyday cruising or occasional brash accelerations.
While people may fret upon sharing parts with Honda cars, the truth is that it is not necessarily bad. Acura has only borrowed desirable ones such as cutting-edge electronic driver assists, lightweight platforms and downsized engines. Honda knows its own cars are great so it is making Acura evolve their concept instead of changing it. That evolution is mature and elegant and brings exclusive options with all that.
Fortunately, the results are already shaping up quite well: Acura states that half of the Integra’s pre-orders come from new buyers. Now, while that reinvention has a strong retro flavor, that is not even its best part. In a way, Acura is now finding its way to true success in the luxury market by delivering performance from an efficient, detailed… definitely precise point of view. Doesn’t that sound familiar to you?
Frequently asked questions
The base version starts at $31,895. The A-Spec adds $2,000 to that and gets a Technology package for additional $3,000.
200 hp at 6,000 rpm.
No such plans so far. The current model is a four-door liftback.
The company intends to start selling it in June 2022.
The original model arrived in 1986 and had a facelift in 1990. A second generation came in 1994 replacing liftback and sedan for a single coupé and was updated in 1998. Then, there was a hiatus from 2001 until now.
Up to 5,000 lb when equipped with the SH-AWD system.