By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. The hand-wringing concerning the new Acura Integra prototype unveiled final week has been excessive. Pitchfork-wielding partisans on either side of the difficulty have been weighing in on whether or not or not the Integra prototype is worthy of reward, or derision. The Web Fan Boys (some even within the “media”) have been singing the praises for the brand new Integra, saying that it’s a refreshing breath of contemporary air and a return to glory for the moribund Acura model. On the alternative aspect of the fence, the feedback have been leaning towards the concept the brand new Acura Prototype is “the reply to the query that nobody is asking.”
For the fanatics on the market, whose appreciation of automotive historical past goes again to 2010 (if that far), once-upon-a-time the Acura Integra was a driver-focused compact – produced from 1986 via 2006 – that couldn’t be farther from its extra conservative Honda siblings. The emphasis was on efficiency and fun-to-drive for the Integra, with wonderful dynamics and a usually nice Honda engine. And all of these qualities have been magnified even additional within the high-revving and high-strung Integra Sort-R. It’s no secret that the Integra did extra to ascertain Acura as a efficiency model than even the vaunted NSX did. Why? As a result of it was inexpensive. And for 2022, the mind belief at Acura has determined the time is correct for the model to introduce a brand new Integra.
Full disclosure? I really like Hondas. Particularly the present Civic. I really like the best way they really feel, I really like their engines, I really like the structural solidity, and most necessary, I really like them as a result of the fun-to-drive quotient is absolutely excessive. So, the haters on the market can put their pitchforks down (not less than for 20 seconds), as a result of I’m certain that Honda will make sure that any machine that wears the Acura Integra nameplate will probably be a worthy, fun-to-drive entry into the market.
The Integra Prototype – painted in Indy Yellow Pearl borrowed from the NSX – “is a robust indication of the outside design of the all-new 2023 Acura Integra, which will probably be priced round $30,000 when it arrives at Acura sellers subsequent yr,” in line with Acura PR minions. (There isn’t any “sturdy indication” about it. That is the automotive. -WG) The 2023 Integra will change into “the brand new gateway efficiency mannequin within the Acura lineup, a premium sport compact with an evocative five-door design and fun-to-drive spirit,” the minions continued. It is going to be the first-ever factory-turbocharged Integra and it will likely be capable of be ordered with an obtainable six-speed handbook transmission, restricted slip differential and high-output 1.5-liter engine, with VTEC®. “The Integra is likely one of the most iconic fashions in Acura’s historical past,” mentioned Jon Ikeda, Vice President and Acura Model Officer. “This new Integra will proceed to ship on the unique’s distinctive aspirational but attainable market place, with emotional efficiency and magnificence, mixed with the flexibility and utility wanted by in the present day’s patrons.” (2023 marks the primary time the Integra will probably be inbuilt America, when it begins mass manufacturing subsequent yr on the Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio, by the best way. It is going to be constructed on the identical manufacturing line because the Acura TLX.)
So, every thing is cool with me concerning the thought of a brand new Integra. I simply can’t say the identical for the present state of Honda/Acura Design. When the Acura Integra made its debut, it was a unique time and a unique period. And suggesting that Acura can return and recreate the excitement of that period is naive, at finest. The brand new Integra was designed in Japan, and it reveals. Acura PR minions describe it this fashion: “… the brand new Integra’s daring exterior styling contains a dramatically sloping roofline and liftback tailgate, giving it a definite coupe-like highway presence.”
I urge to vary. The brand new Acura Integra design is spinoff, boring, uninspired and a significant disappointment. But it surely has the embossed Integra identify underneath the motive force’s aspect headlight and passenger’s aspect taillight, so there’s that. (Wow.) One thing has been incorrect with Honda/Acura Design for a very long time now (the exception being the brand new NSX, after all.) Honda/Acura designers preserve attempting to awaken fanatics with varied design “signatures” on its product lineup – the grille openings, slats, creases, and so on. – however they appear to fall flat each rattling time.
Aside from the NSX, there isn’t a emotionally compelling motive to want an Acura. There may be simply nothing about them that pulls you in, and the design of the brand new Integra does completely nothing to alter that notion. Anticipating extra from Honda/Acura designers as of late is giving them far more credit score than they deserve. It’s a idiot’s errand, in truth. Design mediocrity appears to be their constant M.O.
A standard litmus take a look at for fanatics is to ask this query: While you shut the door and stroll away out of your experience, do you look again at it for an additional admiring look? Or do you press the “lock” button and simply preserve strolling? Evidently, if I have been driving the brand new Integra, I wouldn’t even give it a second look.
I really like driving Hondas, however I certain do not like taking a look at them.
And that’s the Excessive-Octane Reality for this week.