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The new Acura Integra was never meant to be a retro car
Acura explains its decision making on all things Integra

Zac Palmer

The new Acura Integra Prototype was never supposed to be a retro or nostalgic design process. It would be easy to assume it was, as Acura’s messaging leading up to the big reveal leaned heavily on the Integra nameplate's heritage. From the model name embossed in the bumpers, to videos of shifting the older model’s manual transmissions, Acura yanked fairly hard on our heartstrings.

And then the cover came off last week, and while there are very subtle cues hinting at old Integras here and there, the new car doesn’t look much like the old ones at all. Unlike designers of the new retro-tastic Nissan Zand Ford Bronco, Acura decided to create something altogether new and different.

“So, admittedly, when we started planning this car, it was never to create a retro Integra,” Acura product planner, Jonathan Rivers, told Autoblog. “We actually looked at it from the viewpoint of say, if the Integra had never left the lineup, how would it have evolved? How would it have changed over the years? We think this is the result of that.”

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There was never going to be a two-door coupe model, because as Rivers points out to us, coupes just don't sell these days. However, sportbacks are popular — just look at the sheer number of them coming from Germany these days — and it suits the customers Acura is trying to capture with the Integra.

“The target customer is a millennial with an active lifestyle, so they need space for their gear but they also want to have a great car to hit the canyon roads with every now and then,” Rivers says. “Once again, over the generations, the Integra is just that.”

For any naysayers throwing their hands up about the Integra seemingly being a fancy Civic, we possess two points of refutation. One, that’s exactly what the Integra has always been. It was literally badged and sold as a Honda in many other countries, and its bones have always been Civic-based. That’s the Integra’s history, and while Acura doesn’t officially come out and say so, it’s most certainly the same today.

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On the design front, maybe you think the photos make it look a little too close to the new 11th-gen Civic Hatchback? Well, pictures on the internet don’t always tell the full story of a car design.

“None of the sheetmetal is shared with either the four-door or the five-door Civic,” Rivers explains. “And I attest it to, it’s like the mix of those two body styles, because if you actually had the five-door [Civic Hatchback] next to this car, it’s significantly different. This is an inch or two longer than the Sedan. Because we’ve made the roof such a sloping line, it gives hatchback five-door vibes, but really it’s a sedan in shape, and also has that versatility with the hatchback.”

That point about the Integra being an inch or two longer than the sedan is an important distinction to make, too. The new Civic Sedan is already five inches longer than the Hatchback, making the Integra more of a Civic Hatch XXL in overall size. It’s not a tiny car, befitting Rivers’ earlier point of Acura attempting to make today’s Integra, not a remake of the old. The car buying public’s taste in car size has grown substantially larger over the years since the Integra went out of production, and the new Integra tries to play catch up in that respect.

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We tried to see if Acura would give us some indication as to when the Integra's revival effort first took hold within the company, and while we don’t have hard dates, Rivers shared with us how the process went.

“The name came along through the development as we realized we could make a car worthy of the name,” Rivers says. “So it’s not a marketing exercise, we didn’t just slap it on last minute. If we had the components, if we had some of the design cues. If we had something sporty and fun and versatile like the previous cars, that’s the car.”

If you combine the elements that we know of now, Rivers makes the point that it’s difficult to call this anything else besides Integra: 1.5-liter turbo engine, six-speed manual, limited-slip differential, hatchback body, good handling and an affordable price. In fact, those preliminary specs and features suggest that we’re going to get something as the base Integra that is leagues better and more fun than any previous base Integra models. The old base Integras were not super sporty cars by any means, and while you may have visions of the vaunted Type R running through your head, that high-po model is not what “Integra” meant 99% of the time.

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And even though the new Integra is equipped with so many of the goodies enthusiasts yearn for, the internet’s response hasn’t exactly been resoundingly positive. Acura knew it would be tough to please everybody, too.

“How do you balance it where you appease the people that know the car, know the name, the heritage? But then how do you also appease someone that’s gonna walk into our dealerships and go, ‘hey that looks sweet. I like that,’ without having any previous connections,” Rivers told us.”

Bringing the name back of any old model that’s grown golden in the eyes of enthusiasts is a difficult task, but we (and especially so for your author) are super jazzed about the new Integra. And if an Acura-ized Civic Si Hatchback still isn’t enough for you, just give it a minute, because more performance is coming. We asked Rivers about the future of Type S for the Integra, and below you’ll find his response. It’s a safe bet to say that moreis on the way.

“As Jon Ikeda (Acura Brand Officer) has alluded to and the rest of the lineup, that’s kind of the direction that we’re trying to move forward with this, so … when you look at this car and the foundation for this car … it’s a great performance foundation.”
 

RobbJK

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VERY INTERESTING. A lot of the same points I and other have been making about the new Integra and what it stands for. It's mission statement if you will.

Also very interesting to note that it's LONGER than the civic sedan, which is longer than the civic hatchback. I tried to do some overlays of the civic and integra, and it was difficult to get it to perfectly line up... now I know why. I will say though, in those overlays, it appears that the rear overhang is more or less identical to the civic hatch (maybe give or take an inch)... so I suspect that most of the additional length might have gone to lengthen the nose of the car. This also makes me wonder if the wheel base is the same as the civic or if they lengthened it... same for the width... I was hoping they might add an inch or two to the width of the Integra... they might have... they also could've lowered the roofline too... the pictures we have definitely don't tell the whole story... it's not as copy/paste as alot of us thought.
 

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So if it's longer, it's likely noticeably heavier as well. Hopefully Honda tunes the 1.5 for more power than the Si. You guys that follow my CivicX tuning threads know the engine has plenty of headroom for safely (and reliably) pushing more power.
 
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RobbJK

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So, now knowing that I should've been comparing the civic sedan and integra, rather than the hatch... here's an overlay of the two. This obviously assumes that the wheelbase is identical (which might not be the case). Looks like there's a touch more rear overhang than the sedan (boo) and maybe a touch in the front overhang. Height is the same. And you can even see how similar the back end slope is. As they stated... it's not a hatchback... it's a liftback sedan. Everything like windows, mirrors, etc all line up perfectly. Now I just hope they saw fit to increase the width by an inch or two to offset the added length.
Screen Shot 2021-11-15 at 2.12.51 PM.png
 

Steve182022

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So, now knowing that I should've been comparing the civic sedan and integra, rather than the hatch... here's an overlay of the two. This obviously assumes that the wheelbase is identical (which might not be the case). Looks like there's a touch more rear overhang than the sedan (boo) and maybe a touch in the front overhang. Height is the same. And you can even see how similar the back end slope is. As they stated... it's not a hatchback... it's a liftback sedan. Everything like windows, mirrors, etc all line up perfectly. Now I just hope they saw fit to increase the width by an inch or two to offset the added length.
Screen Shot 2021-11-15 at 2.12.51 PM.png
Nice work. As long as I don't have to buy it with red front seats I'm in.
 

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I thought it would sit right between the sedan and the hatch, but never thought it would be longer.
Which makes sense, because previous gen Integras were also longer than the Civic counterparts (coupe v coupe, sedan v sedan)
It's probably all overhang, since I don't see them extending the wheelbase.
I don't like that. The Civic sedan is already pretty big imo.

Looks like Acura interpreting the original formula way too literally, but still the "fans" are saying it's not the real Interga.
 

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I thought it would sit right between the sedan and the hatch, but never thought it would be longer.
Which makes sense, because previous gen Integras were also longer than the Civic counterparts (coupe v coupe, sedan v sedan)
It's probably all overhang, since I don't see them extending the wheelbase.
I don't like that. The Civic sedan is already pretty big imo.

Looks like Acura interpreting the original formula way too literally, but still the "fans" are saying it's not the real Interga.
Honda has shifted the wheelbase of the Integra previously, but never more than an inch or so if I recall.
 

Jabberwocker

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Sounds like damage control for the poor reception. They absolutely tied it to the integra of old before reveal. Then unveiled the civic si with new paint and body and no one is buying it.
 

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Jon Rivers is a great guy to talk to. He truly has a passion for the Acura brand and for it being successful just as Jon Ikeda. Everything he states is true to what many of us have been saying/feeling ever since the beginning. Very happy that AutoBlog got to have a conversation with him.

I’m already ready to open my wallet once we see the Type S. We already know that the Type S will get Brembo front brakes which I’m happy about and more then likely a front and rear bumper change with quad exhaust as well as a 2.0t and 10AT.
 

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Sounds like damage control for the poor reception. They absolutely tied it to the integra of old before reveal. Then unveiled the civic si with new paint and body and no one is buying it.
I’m in groups of the Si just to help out with info and about 15 or so people have already pre ordered it through their dealerships. This though will definitely sell.
 

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I’m in groups of the Si just to help out with info and about 15 or so people have already pre ordered it through their dealerships. This though will definitely sell.
I mean buying it figuratively. That it is really not much different than the si. I’m sure some people will buy it. :p
 
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