The verdict: The all-new 2023 Acura Integra is a snappy, crisp-handling, value-priced sports sedan that doesn’t go far enough to differentiate itself from the related — and less expensive — Honda Civic Si.
Versus the competition: The Integra’s sportier A-Spec trim levels compete with models like the Audi A3, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes-Benz CLA — all of which are more expensive, more luxurious and generally quicker.
When Honda introduced the redesigned 2022 Civic Si, one feature was notably missing: The previous generation’s adaptive suspension, which had been replaced with a non-adjustable steel suspension. It made the new Civic Si stiffer and bouncier than the one before it, and we lamented its demise.
Related: 2022 Honda Civic Si Review: Honda’s Love Letter to Its Performance Fans
But then Acura, Honda’s luxury brand, introduced the new 2023 Integra and we understood what was going on: The adaptive suspension had reappeared on a more expensive, more upscale, Acura-fied version of the Civic Si, along with a host of other refinements, options and modifications designed to evoke nostalgia for the Integra name. Our question then became whether the new Integra would be worth the added cost over a Civic Si given it’s not much more than a fancier, more luxurious, better-equipped and differently styled version of the same car. The answer, it turns out, is both yes and no.
What Hath Acura Wrought?
So what is this mongrel going by a name that’s become a nostalgic trigger for Japanese car fans worldwide? Just like the original, the 2023 Integra is a fancier, sportier and arguably more advanced version of the Civic — in this case, the Si — with the same powertrain, chassis and overall structure, but wrapped in unique sheet metal and featuring its own interior. The Integra is also available in combinations you can’t get from the Honda. For instance, the Si can only have a manual transmission, whereas most Integras come standard with an automatic transmission; a stick shift is available only on the top A-Spec with Technology trim level. The Civic Si has a trunk, while the Integra is only available as a hatchback, and the previously mentioned adaptive suspension can only be had on the Integra.
There are similarities, as well, mostly centered on the powertrain: a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 200 horsepower and 192 pounds-feet of torque. Routed through either a standard continuously variable automatic transmission or an optional six-speed manual gearbox, it’s good for a 0-60-mph time in the mid-seven-second range regardless of transmission, based on performance test results from several outfits.
My test car had the optional manual transmission, which went a long way toward making the Integra feel engaging and fun to drive, but it didn’t feel subjectively quick — especially compared with its competitors. The turbo spools up quickly and does provide some low-rev punch, but it runs out of steam at higher rpm — an issue for highway passing and high-speed blasts. I know it’s cliche to say a car needs more power, as most actually don’t, but for the Integra to be a proper sports sedan — not just a “sporty” sedan — it actually does need more power.
At least the power it does have is accompanied by some pleasantly snorty exhaust noises, which can be adjustable. The problem is that while this welcome sound is easily heard inside the cabin, so is a lot of other road and wind noise. The Integra may be on the lighter end of the spectrum in terms of curb weight, but perhaps too much sound-deadening material was eliminated in pursuit of that goal.
The Integra could also use some stickier tires. Rather than having a summer tire option like the Civic Si, the Integra makes do with decently grippy all-season tires, likely for ride quality and noise trade-offs. They only marginally dampen the Integra’s sharp handling; there’s excellent feel and feedback that comes through to the driver. If you want to make it even more fun, swap out the all-seasons for some summer meats when the weather turns nice; you’ll likely be well rewarded.
The Integra’s active dampers have three settings. In Comfort and Normal mode, they beautifully smooth out what is a jarring, bouncy ride in the Civic Si. Even in the Integra’s Sport mode, it never gets quite as aggressive as the Civic, and that’s a good thing for your back and kidneys.