A car we're already sure will be fantastic will be the target of much hate. Is it justified?
Acura has officially confirmed that an Integra Type S is coming for the 2024 model year. But we're here to tell you to prepare for disappointment… This is despite the fact that the Type S will be absolutely exceptional to drive.
Acura's new Integra divided opinion. On the one hand, many were happy the nameplate had been revived - it's iconic, after all. But on the other, people were disappointed that it wasn't a coupe, that you had to spend big on the top model to get a manual gearbox, and that it only had as much power as the Civic Si on which it's based.
We've dealt with many of these accusations before, and why you're wrong to hate on the standard Integra, but now there's a new version coming, and it's time to prepare yourself for more disappointment.
I'm fully prepared for the onslaught of comments below from those who have only read the headline or the opening paragraph. After all, how can a car based on the Civic Type R - one of the best-driving cars of our lifetime - be a disappointment? Bear with me…
We live in an era of tightening budget constraints for automakers, coupled with the drive to go electric. In such an automotive and economic climate, OEMs are finding it increasingly difficult to go it alone in developing an enthusiast's performance car.
That's why almost every cool car has a twin from another brand. Toyota GR Supra? BMW Z4. Subaru BRZ? Toyota GR86. You get the point.
But typically, those cars are developed as rivals competing in the same category, which makes sense when it comes to cost parity, and as a result, they cost similar money.
The same can't be said of the Acura Integra and the Civic Si. That's because the Civic Si appeals to a budget-minded enthusiast, while the Integra is supposed to be a premium product. While that's all fine and well, no one can possibly buy an Integra without somebody asking, "Why didn't you get a Civic Si for $2,700 less?"
Adding insult to injury, the base Integra comes with a CVT; if you want a manual, you must spend $35,800. Then, because it has more premium features, it's heavier, with no increase in power. Know what that means? It's slower. And there's not a Honda fanboy that will ever let you forget it.
What makes you think the Integra Type S will be any different? It's still early days, and Acura hasn't given us full details yet, but here's what we know. The Type S will have a 2.0-liter VTEC turbo engine producing "over 300 horsepower" and a six-speed manual gearbox with a limited-slip differential.
Acura hasn't explicitly stated it'll be front-wheel drive. Still, I'll eat my hat if Acura actually takes that platform and fully re-engineers it with a bespoke high-performance all-wheel-drive system for one low-volume derivative.
No, this will be a Civic Type R minus the big wing on the back. That in and of itself isn't an issue - because the Civic Type R is a damn fine car and one of the best driver's cars around. It narrowly missed out on the CarBuzz Awards: Affordable Fun category win for 2022.
But how will the Type S differ from the Type R? No wing? Sure. Leather upholstery? Probably. A few extra features? Almost guaranteed. But that's going to mean more weight. And more weight will come at the expense of performance. And once you remove performance, everyone will ask, "Why didn't you just buy a Type R?"
And you might respond with something like not wanting to be a sheep that follows the masses or wanting a left-of-field choice in the performance compact segment. Heck, you might even say you didn't want a look-at-me wing or red seats and floor mats. All valid. But how much are you willing to pay for those differences?
The new Civic Type R is an expensive toy at an MSRP of $42,895, and I'm willing to bet the Integra Type S will not arrive for anything under $45,000.
I'd wager the Type S is going to be a $48k car before you factor in options - of which there will admittedly be few - and before dealers get greedy and stick a 50% markup on them if we're lucky. That's Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 and Audi S3 money for a car that will inevitably be slower than the one it's based on.
And that's why the Integra Type S will be a disappointment. It won't be special, it won't be unique, and it won't be as hot as the donor car that underpins it. Of that, I'm sure. Fans clamoring for AWD with a drift mode like the RS3 and AMG CLA 45 are going to be bitterly disappointed because the chances of that happening are slim to none - the business case isn't justifiable for a brand like Acura that isn't a volume seller like Audi, Mercedes, or BMW.
Does that mean the Type S won't be brilliant to drive? Not at all. I cannot imagine a world in which anything based on the Type R couldn't be phenomenal.
But you'll be asked to pay for a product that is ever-so-slightly worse in its most important metric than the Civic.
It's worth remembering where the Integra Type S's roots lie. Acura uses the Type S nomenclature now while Honda uses Type R, both badges defining the pinnacle of the brand's performance. Spiritually, the Integra Type S is a modern interpretation of the original Teggy Type R, but the original was a Honda, rebadged as an Acura for the American audience only. Times have changed, and so too have the brands, but I can't help but feel that the premium the Acura will command won't justify its 'upgrades.'
I'd love to be proven wrong, though, and with that, I'd like to challenge Acura to do the unthinkable and blow me away, to blow the Type R away with a product that fully justifies the Acura badge, not one that says, "You should've bought a Honda."