Returning to the Acura lineup in North America after a two-decade-plus absence, the Integra Prototype took its first bow in Los Angeles recently. And if the luxury automaker’s previous concept outings are any indication, the five-door hatchback should be a very close preview of the forthcoming 2023 Integra.
Although some details remain in question, there’s no denying that the new Integra will fill a very nostalgic hole in Acura’s luxury saloon lineup.
Like the first-generation Integra from 1986, the Prototype will take the form of a liftback saloon, though clearly modernised with current Acura styling cues. That means LED headlamps with chicane-shaped signature lighting bookending an angular “Diamond Pentagon” grille up front. Sweeping taillights with a notched internal design appear on either side of an aggressive fastback rear hatch. A crisp line rises from the front wheel arch, cutting through the front door and giving the profile some aggression without ruining the Integra’s clean design. The front and rear bumpers also get retro-inspired “INTEGRA” logos embossed into the plastic.
A longish front overhang, small dash-to-axle ratio, and arching roofline betray the Civic hatchback that likely hides behind those Acura-spec design cues. However, Acura did a good job of dressing up the Integra, with a clean front end thanks to the frameless grille and a bonnet that somewhat recalls the second-generation Integra with how it integrates into the bumper and fenders. Even the Indy Yellow colour is intended to recall the Integra Type R's Phoenix Yellow. Still, those hoping for a retro redux will be disappointed the Integra Prototype doesn't stray further from the Civic's general proportions.
Since it’s a design exercise, the Acura Integra Prototype we saw in person doesn’t actually have an interior. We presume it'll use the lovely Civic as a jumping-off point, dressed up a bit with the TLX's wing-like, contrast-colour lower dash, as well as softer materials throughout the cabin. Acura’s True Touchpad Interface might show up, or the Integra could make use of a reskinned version of the Honda Civic’s intuitive infotainment, replete with a 9.0-inch touchscreen and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Though unconfirmed officially, the Integra Prototype probably will ride on the Civic hatch's chassis, powered by a "high-output" turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder. That's the same phrasing Honda uses to describe the engine in the Civic Si saloon, but we hope Acura squeezes a bit more power relative to that car's 200 bhp and 192 pound-feet (149 kilowatts and 260 newton-metres). Even if not, if you want a Civic Si with the convenience of a liftback, the Integra is as close as you'll get, and that will be reason enough for some to choose it.
Unlike the manual-only Si, the 2023 Integra will offer both a six-speed stick and a spec-unconfirmed automatic transmission – likely a continuously variable transmission. Front-wheel drive will be standard, and it doesn’t appear the Acura Integra Prototype (or its production-intent successor) will offer torque-vectoring Super Handling all-wheel drive. The Integra Prototype should boast the same robust structure as the Civic hatchback (yielding nimble handling and limited body roll) and we hope Acura will also offer a grippy summer-tyre option to give its compact saloon genuine moves on a winding road.
The production version of the Integra Prototype should arrive in dealers in mid-2022. Exact pricing is unknown, though Acura did say the production vehicle would start at around $30,000, stealing attention from the more expensive Mercedes-Benz A-Class and BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe. We also have our fingers crossed for an Integra Type S powered by the Honda Civic Type R’s 306-bhp (228-kW) four-cylinder. Such a ‘Teg would be an attractive Japanese foil to the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 and BMW M235i Gran Coupe, especially if it has the original Integra’s marvellous front-wheel-drive moves.
Regardless, we’re thrilled to see Acura resurrect such a storied name from its past and can only hope the trend continues. For more on the Acura Integra Prototype and its 2023 production variant, stay tuned.