Acura Integra Type S — In a word: brilliant

By Jim Prueter

(February 8, 2024) Shortly after Acura, Honda's luxury division relaunched its iconic Integra nameplate the company sent us the A-Spec trim level for our review testing. After a week behind the wheel we came away impressed with its attractive styling, long list of standard features, strong technology and driver assist features. It was essentially a Honda Civic Is dressed in prom clothes.

What we wished for was the promised high-performance Type S Integra with more horsepower and all the good stuff that goes along with that including sportier bodywork, a six-speed rev-matching manual shifter and more. "Wait until next year" we were told. Well, next year is here and so is the highly anticipated Type S driven here.

Despite sharing hardware components, the Type S and the high-performance Civic type R are distinct products developed by entirely different teams and not simply a warmed-up and tarted up Type R dressed in Type S Integra apparel and vestments. Additionally, the brands are targeting unique buyers and performance targets.

While I've previously tested and reviewed the Type R Civic, I'll be the first to admit that while the two vehicles certainly share a strong amount of DNA the vehicles are significantly different complete with a different driving experience. By comparison the Type S feels more grown up, more experienced, and between the two my preferred favorite being one of the most gratifying and agreeable daily driver. I'll go further and claim the Type S is perhaps the best hot hatch on sale today.

With an as tested price of $53,785 all this goodness doesn't come cheap and is approximately $7000 over the mechanically similar Type R, but you also don't feel cheated. Styling is handsome, sharply tailored and foregoes the silly tuner style wing affixed to the rear hatch. The Type S is far more upscale inside, actually comfortable with the underpinning suspension far from punishing. While it seems somewhat easy to look ahead and think BMW M3 it isn't really all that much different when considering its similar size, congenial cabin comfort and appointments, short throw manual transmission shifts and the enjoyment of "feel-good" commuting. An automatic transmission isn't offered.

Outside, the Type has prominent blistered fender flares for a 3.5-inch wider track up front and 1.9-inches in back than the non S Integra. New 10-inch wheels are larger and wider than the A-Spec Integra yet weigh less than the 18-inchers. We liked the optional bronze finish wheels that came on our test car. Up front are massive, gaping side air intake valances and a lower center opening. An air intake hood vent increases airflow by 170% helping to cool the engine.

There's an attractive and $950 optional carbon fiber thin lip spoiler at the far edge of the rear hatch just above the really cool-looking centered triple trumpeted exhaust pipes.

Inside, there's red and black heated sport seats upholstered in faux-leather that's standard with eight-way power adjustments for the driver. The lower dash on the passenger side gets the matching red seat trim. The front passenger seat is strictly manual and shorter occupants strongly wished for the ability to adjust the height be it power or manual operation. This is a small sedan resulting in as expected a small rear seat with room enough to fit two smaller to average adult passenger. Also missing is rear air vents  and heated seat options both a noticeable omission in a plus $50K car.

For the record, the Integra Type S joins two other Acura performance variants that ware the Type S moniker — the TLX and MDX, but the performance experience is far inferior to the Integra.

The Type S is powered by a 320-hp turbocharged inline-four cylinder with 310 pound-feet of torque and front-wheel drive, is the only engine offered for the Type S and the same engine as the Civic Type R but with its own tuning and 5 more horsepower. Peak power arrives at 6,500 rpm while peak torque is reached from 2,600 to 4,000 rpm. That much torque that quickly means you could miss a gear or two and still gain speed and power.

In our unofficial testing we reached 60 mph in just 5 seconds and clipped the standing quarter mile in 13.5 seconds. Acura says 167 mph is its top speed. We road tested our Type S out the twisty mountain road called the Apache Trail in Arizona putting it to the cornering and handling test. The sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S High-Performance Summer tires hugged the pavement like a dog escaping with a steak bone. There's virtually no body roll or pitching even when diving into a sharp canyon road S turn.  

Braking is supremely handled by the oversized Brembo system with 4-piston calipers up front, the best brakes in the business with zero fade. As for fuel economy, we realized an overall 25 mpg on combined city, highway and test track driving.

Overall, the Type S is a brilliant sport hatch, the best available. Still we wished for an additional 40 - 60 more horsepower, a more muscular exhaust note, and a bit more economical window sticker.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $50,800
Price as Tested: $53,785
Engine/Transmission: 320-hp 2.0-liter VTEC engine and a 6-speed manual transmission delivering power to the front wheels.
EPA Fuel Economy: 21/28/24 mpg City/Highway/Combined
Seats: 4

Where Built: Marysville, Ohio

Competes With:
Audi S3
Cadillac CT4-V
Honda Civic Type R
Hyundai Elantra N
Toyota GR Corolla
Volkswagen Golf R

Crash Test Safety Rating: IIHS 2024 Top Safety Pick+, NHTSA overall 5 star rating

Athletic handling
Upscale interior and ride
Quick acceleration

Needs more horsepower
Civic R is similar for less money
Poor gripping summer tires in rain or snow