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At a short event before the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show, Acura unveiled a prototype model of the new 2023 Acura Integra in a color inspired by the Phoenix Yellow of the DC2 Integra Type R. Reactions have been mixed, and Car Bibles was there to see if the new Integra prototype is worth its surrounding hype.

Several things stood out with ferocity. The side graphics that bear the Integra nameplate down the side of the car aren’t just there as a cool flair, the black vinyl is tactically slimming the side of the car down. Substantially. The black roof is also doing a good job of hiding how much the windshield frame is from a Honda Civic, and the half-black side mirrors are also removing a lot of visual mass from the car.

Mechanically, it was extremely clear that this prototype is much lower than a production version will ever be. I walked up to the car to confirm the wheel gap, and it was plenty low. The prototype also had huge Brembo brakes, which likely won’t be seen on a lower-trim Integra, but they might be used for an upcoming performance version like a Type S, as we’ve seen them on previous versions of the Civic Type R and the TLX Type S. The lower trims are likely to have the single- or dual-piston sliding brake calipers of the 11th-generation Civic.

Acura Integra Prototype: My Main Takeaways After Seeing It in Person

Speaking of the newest Civic, the spec sheet and some key structural elements of the Integra are screaming “new Civic Si” to me. A 1.5-liter VTEC turbo four-cylinder is likely part of the corporate Honda L15B engine family, and a six-speed manual transmission geared up with a limited-slip differential, likely of the helical type, all inform some Civic Si roots in the drivetrain. An interesting addition is VTEC to the engine. It isn’t confirmed that the Integra will use an Si drivetrain but the new Civic is confirmed to have the L15B7 VTEC turbo engine with VTEC on the exhaust camshaft. The previous Civic Si did not have VTEC, just variable valve timing on both cams.

Acura Integra Prototype: My Main Takeaways After Seeing It in Person

Acura seemed shy to talk about how much the Integra shares with the 11th-generation Civic, but John Ikeda, Vice President and Brand Officer of Acura, confirmed to Adam Ismail at Jalopnik that it is based on the Civic. From what I observed at the reveal and the photos I took, the relationship seems to be fairly strong.

The panel gaps and joints of the fenders, hood, and front doors look identical to the 11th-generation Civic. This dashboard-to-axle area is one of the most critical in car design and engineering, with most of the expensive packaging and subsystems of the car living in this space. My point is that it’s hard to change this area, even on a modular platform. The windshield frame is strikingly similar to the Civic as well.

Acura Integra Prototype: My Main Takeaways After Seeing It in Person

I think there is plenty to like about the new Integra. It will be priced around $30,000, just above the Civic Si’s historically mid- to high-$20,000 range. Once it isn’t in a blaring yellow, it drops the graphics package, and it’s raised to production height, we’re all going to see a much different Integra. As a prototype, it doesn’t look bad. Those of us who modify our cars will know the wonders some lowering springs and graphics will visually do to our cars.

Looking forward, this prototype appears fairly production-ready, so don’t expect too much to change when the real thing comes out. Whether it truly distinguishes itself from the Civic will have to be seen when we get to drive one in the coming months.

Until then, we are reserving judgment on the new Integra. So far, it isn’t the return of the old legend like some people might have hoped. After all, it does track with the historic brand mandate of the Integra: based on a Civic, but nicer. This is just how Acura would do it in 2021.

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