Opinionated at any speed . . . Silvio Calabi

Acura Integra Type S

Tue, 08/15/2023 - 11:15am

How do I love thee, new-for-2024-and-available-only-in-North-America Acura Integra Type S? Let me count the ways . . .

Engineering: Up front, the Type S has a 2-litre, four-cylinder engine turbocharged to make 320 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque on premium gas. The motor drives only the front wheels, but standing on the throttle fires the Type S ahead rather than yanking it from side to side; Honda has conquered the dreaded FWD torque-steer monster through its dual-axis front strut suspension and active damping. There is also a limited-slip differential, to help all those horses paw the pavement.

Performance: Typically, front-wheel-drive cars also give up something in quickness and cornering ability, but here too the Type S shines. According to people with skid pads and accelerometers, the car can withstand more than one g of lateral force and it sprints to 60 MPH in just 5 seconds, give or take the odd tenth. A twin-clutch, direct-shift gearbox would produce better acceleration times than a stick shift operated by the human hand, but this 6-speed stick is oh, so satisfying. Any sort of automatic transmission is not an option in the Type S.

Comfort: There is a substantial difference between Comfort and Sport modes; clicking back and forth between the two—to leave the freeway and engage the off-ramp to the mountain cabin, let’s say—becomes a regular thing. Yet Sport mode is not teeth-rattling and Comfort is so, um, comfortable that it’s tempting to simply stay there, without giving up much prowess. There is also a driver-customizable Individual mode. Whatever the setting, the Type S moves down the road, any road, with fluid grace.

(Also in re: comfort. For all its performance enhancements, the Type S remains a 5-door liftback sedan, not a tiny coupe that squashes two people together with scant space for an overnight bag.)

Features: Acuras are meant to be luxury cars, and alongside its go-fast portfolio, the Type S has a broad array of comfort, convenience and safety features, from interactive cruise control and a head-up display to wireless phone charging and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. If there’s a lapse anywhere here, it is that only the driver’s seat adjusts electrically; the front passenger has to make do with manual seat controls. Oh, the heartbreak.

Refinement: All car interiors feature synthetic materials, but Acura has mostly chosen plastics that do not feel or look plasticky. The knobs and switches have a reassuringly mechanical, nearly retro feel. Even symbols on the touchscreen require a push and respond with a click. And while many carmakers would have stuck an enormous wing on the rear deck of such a flier, the Type S has only a demure lip on its trunk lid. (Big, shouty wings are mere posturing at less than triple-digit speeds and block the driver’s view behind.)

Attitude: Gen Z is welcome to the Type S’s little brother, the raucous and semi-flashy Honda Civic Type R. Adults will gravitate toward the more sophisticated, more mature and drivable Type S. We have less to prove; we know what we like; and we don’t care all that much what you think.

Value: As premium Hondas, Acuras cost more. A loaded MDX sport-ute can hit $75,000. The Integra, Acura’s Premium Sport Compact sedan, starts at just $31,500 and reaches $36,500 with a 200-horsepower Four, but then there’s a big jump to the Type S with its 320 ponies and honed abilities. Finished in Platinum White and with the requisite destination charges, ours stickers at $52,595. A fairly big number, yes, but a similar paragon of automotive virtue from Germany costs much more. And never forget this is a Honda, with all that says about build quality, longevity and maintenance.  

So it seems I love the new Type S seven ways. If I could keep it longer, I might be able to add a couple more.

Next time:  Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce Hybrid