2300 MILES, 30 ACURA LEGENDS AND A 2023 ACURA INTEGRA A-SPEC MANUAL, OH MY!
When we get a car on test, two things are absolute – we get them for seven days and maintain a restricted milage limit. In the case of the all-new Acura Integra, I received special permission to go above and beyond our allotted restriction and put over 2,300 miles for a road trip to partake in the 17th annual National Acura Legend Meet, this year located in Wichita, Kansas.
Driving a vehicle 2,300 miles, you learn a lot.; what you like, dislike, its quirks and disparity. First things first, calling the Integra a hatchback is like calling these new sloping roofed SUV’s a coupe – just because it has a fifth door to access the trunk does not necessarily make it a hatchback, so calm yourself Volkswagen GTI, you still hold the crown of the hot hatches. This slight personality disorder does not however impact its design, the Integra is quite the charmer from any given angle with slight design ques brought in from previous generations to keep the heritage alive, like the embossed Integra logo on the front bumper worn like eye shadow under the left headlight.
My example arrived as the crème of the crop sporting the A Spec badging and a six-speed manual transmission. Oddly enough, Acura reverse the order of things when it comes to spec-ing the Integra, in a normal world, the manual option is seen as an entry level point and one must pay extra for the automatic. Not in Acura’s world. To get the six-speed manual, one must get the A Spec with the Technology Package, which makes it the most expensive Integra one can buy at $36,895. And since I was about to showcase this new Acura product to a numerous Acura driving enthusiasts with six-speed manual Legends, the Integra A Spec seemed fitting for this occasion.
By the time you read this article, you will most likely have read or watched every video there is and will already know more than I, so then you know, when we peel back the layers of onions underneath, what we have is a Honda Civic Si and Hatchback in drag. It uses the same platform as the all-new generation Honda Civic Si including its 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 200-horsepower and 192 lbs-ft of torque that boosts 0-60mph in about 7.0-seconds. However, through some clever tunning from the Acura division the Integra has a little more umph in its software department, slightly different suspension tunning configuration and transmission setup. Unfortunately for the Integra, it comes featured with a single-speed continuous variable transmission, CVT, blah. But I cannot judge too harshly, I have not driven the CVT. Added benefits to the Tech Package includes adaptive dampers which is not featured on the Civic Si that help give the Integra a more comfortable, balanced ride when driving in Comfort/Normal drive modes. Pop the mode into Sport and we get a more Si lively experience. Sport mode also retunes the clutches disposition making it tighter on the inputs and quicker entry points into each gear, plus we cannot forget the rev-matching feature that has us giggle like cheerleaders at homecoming after hearing the exhaust do its little gurgle.
Traveling from Phoenix, Arizona to Wichita, Kansas is a 16-hour journey, so with the use of the wireless Apple CarPlay system and the navigation set, it took all of 5-miles to fall completely head over heels for the new Integra withs its crisp gear changes, smooth chassis refinement and tight-as-a-drum steering. However, it was after 300-miles and our first stop for fuel we soon realized that the Integra was not exactly an idealistic road trip car.
At first, I thought it was me, I am larger sized individual and maybe I just found the seats to be uncomfortable with very little cushion. But my suspensions were confirmed when my co-pilot took over some of the driver, weighing under 150lbs, he agreed with my findings that after 50-miles we felt the need to adjust ourselves. Other things I found to my dismay was that there was no built-in navigation, so when we lost signal in rural parks of Oklahoma and Kansas, we had no navigation. Lastly, then there was the interior finishing; the Integra A Spec has a very attractive interior with the use of leather and suede on the seats, aluminum look-a-like on the dash and nice touches of honeycomb finished air vents; however, to save cost, the same finishes were not extended to the rear seats and rear doors, which, we feel, in a premium branded car competing against brands like BMW and Audi, we expected better.
Arriving to the event like Miley Cyrus on her wrecking ball, the Integra stole the show from the Acura Legends for an evening catching everyone’s attentions. Like a new toy, they wasted no time inspecting the ins and outs, opening the doors and climbing inside to see what’s, what.
While NALM was over the course of 4-days, we were only they’re for technically one of them. Since I do not own a Legend myself, all I need is a day to mingle and catch up with everyone before moving back on my merry way. On the drive back to Phoenix, I kept pondering the question, “what makes the Integra so special and different from the Civic Si?” And I think I have cracked it; it is the adaptive dampers.
Back when I tested the Civic Si, there was no doubt it was a superior enjoyable car to drive that keeps the spirt of driving alive; but problem I had was that the suspension and/or the tires was far too aggressive for the everyday comfort and that perhaps switching from summer performance tires to all-seasons would help with that. With the Acura Integra featuring adaptive dampers, it brings the best of all worlds with a jubilant driving experience reminding us enthusiast why we relish driving; why we will drive 200-miles to our favorite mountain road for those 20-minutes of blissful curves.
After my trip, and fueling up the Integra one last time, it averaged 44.5 miles to the gallon over the course of 2,295.3 miles. So, while the Integra may be more much expensive than the Civic Si, it’s the kind of fun-to-drive sedan that can provide enjoyment any given day of the week, not just on our favorite mountain road.
Good times all around. Glad you and the Integra made an appearance!
44mpg + is hard to ignore, but what a shame about seat comfort.