Before I can see the camouflaged car come around the corner from Honda’s Tochigi proving ground, I can hear it. The distinct sound of a turbocharged four-cylinder echoes off the walls, but with far more personality than anything else Honda offers. It’s louder and more rowdy, with pops and bangs that rival Hyundai’s Anti-Social N Cars. This wonderful sound comes from a near-production prototype of the 2024 Acura Integra Type S, a very hot version of Acura’s new sport compact it’s here to allay your fears about the reborn nameplate.
Full disclosure: Honda flew me to Japan, put me up in an extraordinarily swanky hotel in Tokyo, and used boats, buses, and trains to get me to its heritage museum, R&D facilities, and headquarters.
Since the new Integra was introduced earlier this year, there was a cacophony of moans and hand twists – it’s too tame to watch, Acura has to offer a three-door, the new model is just a warmed up, more expensive Civic. No matter where you are in these debates, it’s exhausting. But the biggest complaint was that there is no performance version to capture the spirit of the Type R of the 90s. That’s where the new Type S comes in. With the Civic Type R in the family, did you really think Acura wouldn’t make a performance Integra with the same engine? Don’t be ridiculous. Of course it happened. The Type S is the Integra you’ve been waiting for.
While driving the prototype in Japan, Acura would only give our group of journalists the most basic information about the powertrain. The Integra Type S will use the same Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 like the Civic Type R, with a 6-speed manual as the only transmission and a limited-slip differential as standard. Acura says the Type S will have “at least 300 horsepower,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being slightly more powerful than the Civic’s 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.
During development, Acura engineers aimed for “epic” acceleration as a key attribute of the Type S, so the new Integra variant might end up slightly faster at 60 mph than the Civic Type R despite its heavier weight. To that end, Acura is quick to point out that the Integra has an entirely different mission than the Civic: where the Civic Type R is all about track capability, the Integra Type S is all about performance. street and an emotional driving experience.
With just a light black-and-white camo wrap and no faux body panels, I can see nearly every design detail on the new Integra Type S. It looks plenty hot. The redesigned front bumper has much larger air intakes feeding a larger intercooler, and the new grille has a soft radial diamond-shaped pattern. Like the Civic, it has three center-mounted exhaust tips, although the Integras are all the same size – and that size is huge. The sculpted diffuser looks like it could be functional, and the Type S also has deeper side skirts and a small spoiler on the deck lid. Although Acura reps aren’t saying anything, hopefully the Type S will also come with a big wing.
The biggest design change – and the one that’s sure to be the most controversial – is the huge fender flares. The front flares look fairly well integrated, but the rears have a visible seam where the flare meets the bodywork, similar to the later Civic Type R. I think the flares are great, but might be too much for some. Along with the other styling mods, the wider stance totally changes the Integra’s proportions, and new 19-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires nicely fill out the new wheel arches and hide bigger brakes with calipers. red.
As I step into the cabin, I’m greeted by black camouflage that hides major components like the dashboard and center display, but there are still a few visible changes for the Type S. The front seats have bolsters thicker and are upholstered in leather and microsuede, although not quite as intense as the Type R’s bright red buckets. There’s a new metal shift knob, thicker steering wheel rim and redesigned gauges, and as you’d probably expect, Acura installed a bunch of Type S badging in the cabin. The Type S should also come with a few performance pages for the infotainment screen, and probably some handy new features as well.
I can only do a few laps of Honda’s oval test track, and the Integra has an electronic speed limiter that annoyingly limits me to a top speed of 125 mph. (Don’t worry, the production car will be much quicker.) Immediately noticeable is the steering, which is much heavier than the Civic Type R’s while still offering super-fast rack-and-pinion and great feedback. The screaming exhaust is apparent as I drive off, with a louder tone at cruising speeds and that glorious overshoot occurring on upshifts, downshifts and every moment in between. The engine pulls hard through the rev range, even in the highest gears, and the transmission is as perfect as you’d expect from Honda, with short shifts and great action. It also has the same automatic rev-matching feature as the Civic, which can be turned off. Adaptive dampers will be standard, and while the track surface is fairly smooth, I can say the Integra has a softer chassis setup than the Civic Type R. The brake pedal is nice and firm, and the solid stops are easy to modulate.
My laps unfortunately fly by, but the Integra Type S leaves a very positive impression. It certainly helps that the Civic Type R is a great starting point, but the Integra feels more refined than the Civic, and it should provide a more exciting driving experience in everyday situations. It’s got bold styling without being as boy-racer as the Type R, and the Integra has a more upscale interior with things you can’t get on the Honda, like heated seats and a fancy ELS sound system. .
The Integra Type S will go on sale for the 2024 model year, which likely points to an early 2023 reveal and a summer or fall on-sale date. With the new Civic Type R having jumped to $43,990 (including $1,095 for destination) and the manual Integra A-Spec already costing $36,895, don’t be surprised if the Integra Type S carries a price tag. which starts with a 5. That would make it the most expensive hot hatch on sale – not including markups, of course. It’s crazy ? Only time will tell, but the Integra Type S should appeal to a whole new set of buyers. And in a world where original Integra Type Rs trade in nearly six figures, consider the Integra Type S a bargain.
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