If you’re an old Honda fan like me, you probably think fondly of the late 1990s and early 2000s. This time period is considered by many to be Honda’s “Golden Age”, when cars such as the Integra, Prelude and S2000 roamed the streets. They still do, but in much smaller numbers.
Those golden days are long gone, but in an effort to stay nostalgic (and perhaps relevant), Acura revived the Integra nameplate last year after a 22-year hiatus. Overall, reception to the new Integra has been lukewarm, but being the boss Honda that I am, I was excited to drive it. Fortunately, I recently had the opportunity to drive an A-Spec. But does it live up to the hype in my mind? More importantly, did it carry on the older model’s legacy?
The Integra lives up to the excitement of the older model, but it falls short. After a week of driving the new model, I realized there was no need for that. In fact, the only part of the car that truly traces back to the Integra from the 1990s is the “Integra” emblem embossed into the front and rear bumper.
At least, that’s all I could find. The deep feeling I would have while driving that I used to get is gone. No longer is the high-revving 1.8-liter VTEC four-cylinder that sings all the way to an 8000-rpm redline. Instead, there’s a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine that generates more torque and more power, but lacks the same high-powered personality that the old car had.
2023 Acura Integra A-Spec vs. 1995 Acura Integra GS-R
Speaking of power, let’s take a look at a breakdown of each car’s engine stats. It’s interesting to see how the 28-year difference affects:
|2023 Acura Integra A-Spec||1995 Acura Integra GS-R|
|Engine type||Turbo 1.5-liter four-cylinder||1.8-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine|
|horse power||200 hp||170 hp|
|torque||192 lb-ft of torque||128 lb-ft of torque|
|Connecting||Six-speed manual||Five-speed manual|
|Weight curb||3,073 pounds||2667 pounds|
|0-60 mph time||7.0 seconds||7.5 seconds|
As we can see, both cars are very similar when it comes to performance, as the new Integra’s heavier weight makes up for the increase in power. Then again, the Acura Integra wasn’t meant to be a monster when you’re racing in a straight line. Instead, it was meant to slice tight corners on your preferred back road, which this iteration does well.
How does the 2023 Integra’s engine compare to the 1995 model?
Driving the 2023 Integra on the same roads I drove the old car over 20 years ago, I knew the new model had a lot going for it. There is an adaptive suspension with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link configuration in the rear. This setup is markedly different from the Formula One-derived model used on the 1995 Integra – and one that many enthusiasts like.
But I would argue that the setup in the new car is better for everyday driving purposes. The Integra A-Spec absorbs road imperfections well, and the damping, steering and throttle response can be changed with the flick of a switch. It felt great on the road, too, but a lot of the inclines and bumps in the road transferred a lot of harshness into the cabin—it certainly didn’t feel like a luxury car in comparison.
The steering on the new Integra could be tighter at higher speeds. But then again, my mind goes back to the old car’s hydraulic power steering, which gave just the right amount of resistance. It also turned road feel through the steering column well, which felt race car-like.
Speaking of driving feel, the new Integra’s transmission blows the old out of the water. Honda is great at making shifters feel positive and tight like a drum, and the 2023 Integra doesn’t disappoint. It feels much better than the mechanically linked transmission in the old Integra.
As for the engine, the turbocharged unit that powers the 2023 model is smooth and provides plenty of thrust when you need it. It’s not as fun or deep as the old model, but given today’s turbocharged movement, it can keep up with other cars in its current class.
In the end, comparing the driving experience of these two cars is like comparing a sunny day to an overcast day. You can go out and enjoy both in the same way, but you’ll like one a little bit more than the other. However, which you enjoy the most is entirely up to you.
The new Integra isn’t the evolutionary car we wanted, but it does quite well
The golden age of Honda and Acuras is over, but we need to accept the automotive era we are in now. We live in the modern age where passengers want Apple Carplay and heated seats more than a high-revving VTEC engine and racecar-like road feel. In this case, the Acura Integra has evolved. It’s comfortable and fast enough to make you smile on the twisty back roads you take after a long day at work.
Sure, it may not have developed the way you wanted it to. But that’s okay. This new Integra lives up to the hype in a different way.