Yep, the Acura Integra is back! Acura has offered limited information about the revival of its compact nameplate, and while we suspect it will replace the ILX outright when it debuts in 2022, Honda's luxury subsidiary has yet to cough up any more useful information. That's fine; it means we can fill the void with
baseless speculation educated guesses as to what form the next-generation Integra will take.
While we're all excited about its resurrection, Autoblog is not a hive mind, and each of us has a different idea of what a new Integra could (or should) be. Here are our takes, for whatever they're worth, which could easily be absolutely nothing.
Associate Editor Byron Hurd: Yes, that's a photo of a CR-Z model at Honda's design studio. Bear with me here; I promise I'm going somewhere with this. Frankly, as cool as it would be to see Acura take the fight to the likes of the Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz CLA and BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, I can't help but look at the (lack of) success of the ILX and wonder whether there's any hope for something so formulaic.
While I'm sure this will offend at least a few "purists," I'd love to see Honda leverage whatever equity the Integra nameplate has left to pivot its more mainstream cars toward electrification. Sure, an all-wheel-drive take on a Civic Si or Type-R sounds really cool, but how about an accessible fastback coupe or sedan with a scaled-down version of the NSX's powertrain, flipped front-to-back? Base it on a smaller (turbocharged?) ICE, stick the electrified axle in the rear, and voila. Ford has proven that hybrids don't have to be expensive; heck, even the CR-Z was cheap back in the day.
As bothersome as this idea may seem to the faithful, consider this: The ILX wasn't a bust because it was called "ILX." Small sedans just aren't worthwhile investments for automakers right now, so as abhorrent as hybridization or electrification may seem, the alternative could very well be a subtle crossoverification of the Integra nameplate. Does that sound more appealing? Because I sure don't think so.
News Editor Joel Stocksdale: So, just as was the case with the Integra and even the ILX, I have no doubt the new Integra will be based on the Honda Civic. And I think that will probably be a very good thing. The new 11th-generation Civic seems to be as good if not better than the outgoing one, so add some nicer interior pieces and some sound-deadening, and it should be a great, roomy entry-level luxury alternative.
But what I'm most excited for is the potential for sporty Type-S iterations. My guess is that it would need to split the difference between the Civic Si and the Civic Type R. The best way to do so would probably be to use the turbo 2.0-liter from the Accord, which makes 252 horsepower, almost perfectly slotting between the likely 200-horsepower Si engine and the 300-horsepower Type R engine. Acura could even go with the TLX version that makes 272 horsepower, but they may want to keep a little space between the two sedans. And the 2.0-liter engine should fit in the chassis just fine, since the Type R engine is a tweaked version of it.
I'd also love to see SH-AWD appear in this hypothetical Integra Type S. It would help further separate it from the Honda version, and it would be a great selling point for a luxury automobile. It would probably be enormously entertaining in such a small, agile package. To have that extra torque-vectored rear push to bend the little Integra around corners sounds like an absolute blast. I would even be fine if it was automatic-only.
Sure this is all speculation, but it's all possible without an outrageous amount of work. Plus, all of this would have real marketability to actual customers, not just cheap-car enthusiasts.
Road Test Editor Zac Palmer: I'm the Integra guy on staff. My first car, which I still own and cherish, is a 2001 Acura Integra GS-R. To say that I'm ecstatic for a new Integra would be an understatement. Acura hasn’t had a small, affordable car directed toward enthusiasts for a long while now (the ILX never did cut it) and that’s exactly what I hope the new Integra ultimately is.
If I can be selfish for a moment, my dream would be for this new Integra to be a three-door hatchback, just like the one sitting in my garage. That may be a sales disaster in the making, but it presses the nostalgia button hard. A four-door sedan would be in keeping with the rest of the luxury compacts out there, but Acura has a chance to set itself apart by making something way more interesting.
I’d also love for there to be a Type S model that is available with a manual transmission. Once again, being selfish, but a Type S with a slick Honda six-speed would be the closest thing to replicating my third-gen GS-R in spirit. The power numbers don’t need to be ludicrously high. Somewhere just under 300 horsepower feels about right (260-280), considering the new Civic Type R is probably going to come in with a few horses more than its current 306 horsepower rating. And while SH-AWD (or a hybrid helper as Byron suggests) would be a neat twist, I’d actually prefer if Acura kept it to just front-wheel drive to keep the weight and cost down. Plus, Honda has proven with the Type R it knows how to make front-wheel-drive cars that are just as fun to drive as all-wheel-drive models.
Acura already revealed one retro touch with the “Integra” name stamped into the front bumper, and if that continues elsewhere throughout the car’s design, I’d love it even more. Assuming that Acura comes through and sets this Integra onto the market with the enthusiast in mind, and it follows the trend of other new Acuras that are exceedingly good to drive, I’m afraid that I’m going to want one to park next to my Taffeta White 2001 example.