For under $30,000, we can't think of many better cars.
No matter what Acura did with the new Integra, someone somewhere was going to find a reason to complain. We've already explained why the Integra haters are wrong, but after spending a week in the 2022 Honda Civic Si (on which the new Integra is based), we are even more convinced of this stance. If you aren't excited for the 2022 Acura Integra, you clearly haven't driven the Si.
Rather than rehash our argument about the Integra, we wanted to focus on the $27,300 bargain that is the Honda Civic Si. In an age when sporty cars are getting exorbitantly expensive, here's Honda offering a well-equipped, stylish, quick little sedan with a manual gearbox. Seriously, what's not to love as a car enthusiast?
Though we had a few minor gripes with the Civic Si during our week-long test, Acura revealing the Integra the week after we handed back the keys answered more than a few questions we had on some missing features.
The current 11th-generation Civic is more mundane looking than the outgoing tenth-gen model. Of course, this means the new Si is more visually restrained as well. Europe has received wacky Civic designs for years, but the previous model marked the first time the United States got one that wasn't utterly boring. Sadly, the bolder styling didn't have the effect Honda wanted for sales, so the new model goes back to conservative. While we are personally disappointed, Honda made the right move here.
By softening the styling, Honda will ensure this latest Civic will appeal to a wider audience. The previous generation, especially in Si and Type R guise, was too outrageous for some loyal Civic buyers, and it scared them away. This new Si looks sporty enough thanks to standard 18-inch black wheels, signature red Si badges, and a black spoiler. Oh, and that Blazing Orange Pearl paint doesn't hurt either.
Inside, the new Civic feels like a leap forward from the old one. The cabin looks (and feels) more modern, more mature. Honda kept some stables of the Si, including red sport seats, which now feature taller bolstering on the bottom cushion to improve long-distance comfort. We loved the mesh-covered air vents on the standard Civic, and they get a red lip for a touch of pizzaz. If we had just one complaint, the back seats look plain compared to those up front. Admittedly, this was true of the last Si as well. There are some hard plastics scattered throughout the interior, but keep in mind this is a sub-$30,000 car.
Every Civic Si ships with a nine-inch touchscreen featuring wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. To say this infotainment is an upgrade over the outgoing Civic would be an understatement. This is also the first Si to get an upgraded audio system from Bose with 12 speakers. It's a highly requested feature and a massive improvement over the lackluster system in the last Si. Honda didn't skimp on safety either; the Si comes standard with adaptive cruise, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, auto high beams, and traffic sign recognition.
We were impressed with how much tech Honda packed in this car for under 30 grand, but it's missing a few features that are offered on the Canadian-spec model. In Canada, the Si gets fog lights, parking sensors, fully-digital instrument cluster (with a shift light), heated seats (front and rear), heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming mirror, and a wireless charging pad. Following the Integra's reveal, we assume these features were left out to leave some room for Acura.
Weighing in at just over 2,900 pounds, the Civic Si is a joy to drive. It feels light and nimble, with enough power (200 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque) from its 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. There are quicker cars out there, but we think the Si has enough for safe, speeding ticket-free fun. The single best thing about the driving experience is the standard six-speed manual transmission. Every other vehicle in this segment offers an optional dual-clutch automatic, but Honda stuck to its guns, leaving the Si as a manual-only car. This will likely deter a large section of the market, but that's their loss, not Honda's. If you aren't willing to drive stick for this car, you must not be a true enthusiast.
Honda makes the slickest manual this side of six-figures. We'd argue it's as-good if not better than Porsche's. Shifting gears rewards the driver with a positive, crisp engagement, while downshifts now get a helpful auto-blip rev-match for those who haven't quite mastered the heel-toe maneuver. If there's a better manual box than this for less than 100 grand, we haven't driven it.
The Civic Si is nearly a perfect car, a simplistic bargain in a market oversaturated with gaudy, overpriced exotics. We only had two minor complaints: the Canadian car gets way more standard features, and it's not offered as a hatchback. Both issues will be addressed in a two-prong strategy. For those extra features, Acura will offer the Integra with heated leather seats, an even more premium ELS Studio audio system, digital instrument cluster, adaptive suspension, and a hatchback.
Though the Si is only offered as a sedan, the upcoming Honda Civic Type R will be offered as a hatch only. It will also boast bolder styling and more performance, likely with over 300 hp. Perhaps Acura may combine the best of both, offering an Integra Type S with the Civic Type R's drivetrain. With the Civic Si acting as the base, the future of sporty Honda and Acura models looks bright.