Every Acura, it seems, lives in the shadow of either the NSX or the Integra Type R. And that goes double for the recently revealed 2023 Integra. So, it might seem odd that when Acura revealed the new Integra, it didn’t mention a potential future Type R. That, along with the new hatchback’s design as well as the brand’s push for Type S models, has made some fans and enthusiasts…worried, let’s say. But there might be a way to resolve this tension: turn the Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition into a new Integra Type R.
Some people are worried that the 2023 Acura Integra won’t live up to its performance past
On a surface level, the return of the Acura Integra is something worth celebrating. Yet while there are plenty who can’t wait to drive the 2023 Integra, others have expressed more lukewarm reactions. And the distressed chorus’s stanzas echo with references to the 2023 hatchback’s overall look and its underpinnings.
Whether or not you like how a car looks is entirely up to you. But critiquing overall appearance is different from critiquing the design. And to some, the 2023 Acura Integra resembles the Honda Civic Si it’s based on too closely. Furthermore, because it shares so much with the Civic Si, there are concerns over the 2023 Integra’s potential performance. Also, as noted earlier, there’s been no official word—yet—about an Integra Type R return.
Keep a few things in mind, though. True, the original Acura Integra was Civic-based, though not a 100% Civic clone. However, the vast majority of OG Integras weren’t Type Rs, Roadshow notes, but closer in spirit to the contemporary Civic Si. And while 2023 Si driving impressions aren’t out yet, the base 2022 Civic is fun to drive.
As for the 2023 Acura Integra’s looks, the hatchback “was never meant to be a retro car,” Autoblog explains. The designers instead tried to imagine what the Integra would look like today if it hadn’t been discontinued. And it couldn’t be a two-door coupe, Acura product planner Jonathon Rivers told Autoblog, because “coupes just don’t sell these days.” Also, Honda did make four-door Integras at one point.
The hypothetical partnership question
However, there’s a counterpoint to Rivers’ assertion. Why didn’t Honda copy what Toyota and Subaru did with the GR 86/BRZ? I.e., why didn’t Honda partner with another automaker to make a ‘proper’ two-door Integra?
It’s not like Honda hasn’t partnered with other companies in the past. The Japanese automaker is currently working with GM to develop EV batteries, for example. And back when it didn’t have any SUVs, it collaborated with several automakers to release Honda- and Acura-badged models. So, why didn’t that happen with the 2023 Acura Integra?
There’s really no clear answer here. Perhaps Honda didn’t want a Toyota/BMW Supra/Z4 situation on its hands, never mind that the Supra is a solid sports car. Maybe Honda simply wanted to stay independent on such a project.
Or maybe it’s due to the nature of an upcoming Acura Integra Type S.
It might borrow Civic Type R parts, but a hypothetical hotter 2023 Integra will likely be a Type S
To be clear, Acura hasn’t officially announced any plans for a higher-performance 2023 Integra. But several clues point to the model’s inevitable arrival, as well as its name: Integra Type S.
For one, Acura recently filed a trademark for the model name ‘Integra Type S,’ MotorTrend reports. While trademark filings don’t always lead to official names, given the recent announcements, the speculation seems solid.
Secondly, Acura has been steadily releasing Type S models over the last few months. Besides the TLX Type S, there’s now an MDX Type S. Also, the NSX is getting a Type S send-off before a next-gen model comes in. And all of this comes as part of Acura’s push to resurrect its Type S moniker.
That’s not to say a hypothetical 2023 Acura Integra Type S won’t be based on the next-gen Civic Type R. Both Roadshow and MotorTrend consider it “likely.” And while we don’t know much about the upcoming Civic Type R, the outgoing model lives up to the hype. Therefore, if a 2023 Integra Type S arrives built on the Civic Type R’s bones, enthusiasts likely won’t have any performance complaints.
But, you may interject, if you’re going to bring back the Acura Integra, why wouldn’t you also bring back the Type R? Names are important in the motoring world, which is why Integra fans were left confused when Acura renamed it ‘RSX.’ Yes, Acura and Honda have repeatedly stressed that ‘Type R’ is for Hondas and ‘Type S’ for Acuras. But again, the Integra Type R name is iconic—not to mention valuable. Why not resurrect it?
There is a way that Acura could. And it involves the Civic Type R Limited Edition.
How and why Acura could revive the Integra Type R using the Civic Type R Limited Edition
Limited to 600 units, the 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition was a lighter, sharper version of the standard hot hatch. You can mimic some of its features by removing sound-deadening material and the rear wiper, heater ducts, and cargo cover, then installing BBS wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. But you can’t copy the Limited Edition’s unique adaptive shock tuning.
As a result, not only did Civic Type R Limited Editions sell at a premium when new, but they’re even more valuable today. The very first example recently sold on Bring a Trailer for $102K, The Drive says. And as with the Porsche 911 R, that’s money that Honda didn’t make.
But what does this have to do with a hypothetical 2023 Acura Integra Type R? Well, what if Acura made two high-performance Integras based on the Civic Type R? Specifically, a Type S based on the regular Civic Type R and a Type R based on the Limited Edition?
Again, this is all speculation, but the logic is sound. For one, it allows Acura to further promote its Type S badge by blending extra performance with more everyday refinement and luxury. That’s something the RSX Type S did better than the more extreme Integra Type R, The Drive notes. But bringing the Civic Type R Limited Edition formula to the 2023 Integra wouldn’t just be a genuine callback to the OG car. It might also bring the customers who couldn’t get Limited Editions into Acura dealers—and even more besides.
At least on paper, it sounds like a win-win.
Will Acura make a 2023 Integra Type S or Type R?
Whether it’s called Type S or Type R, Acura hasn’t officially confirmed that a high-performance 2023 Integra is in the pipeline. And technically, the recently-revealed Integra is a ‘prototype,’ so production specs are still forthcoming, too.
However, Acura has historically used the Chicago Auto Show for several important reveals. For example, the first-gen NSX bowed at the 1989 show, while the Type R SCCA race car launched at the 1998 show. So, given the hatchback’s 2023 designation, we might see the production version—and more details—as early as February 2022, if not earlier.
It’s too early to tell what’s in store for the 2023 Acura Integra in terms of Type S or Type R trims. But if the idea outlined here sounds intriguing, maybe consider letting Honda know.
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