kyo-ei

It’s hard to talk about the Acura Integra Type-S without comparing it to the Honda Civic Type-R. But I’m gonna try and not to do that too much… because it’s not fair to make one brother live in the other brother’s shadow. That being said: If you want to read our FL5 Honda Civic Type-R review, click here. Alright so…

DE5 Integra Type-S

Acura is primarily a North American brand…

A lot of casual shoppers (and many Acura owners alike) may not realize that. But Acura manufacturing is rooted in Ohio. And that includes the Integra Type-S. While many buyers may gravitate to the Japanese-built origins of the Civic Type-R, the other side of that coin is this: Honda essentially threw the keys to Acura (and thus America) to make our own version of the Type-R with an Acura badge. And that’s pretty wild!

For instance, I have actual friends on my social media feed who build/built this car. These are fellow golden-era Honda lovers who I’ve met over the years (at events like Import Alliance & Gridlife)… and they had a hand in the new Integra Type-S coming to fruition. They feel a huge sense of pride & accomplishment in this car. And that’s worthy of support! Because specialty cars like this – have to be fought for nowadays. They don’t come easily, and they don’t come without persistence from the inside the brand. 

Integra Type-S fender flares

Driving the Acura Integra Type-S…

First off – who would’ve bet we’d NEVER see 3-pedals in a new Acura ever again? *Raises my hand.* But here we are! Celebrate the victories! The 6-speed in the Acura Integra Type-S is not a compromise either. A lot of enthusiasts/purists complain that new manual transmissions lack an authentic mechanical feel. But that’s not the Integra Type-S. Running through gears in the Integra Type-S is crisp, precise, invigorating, & addicting. In fact, everything about the driving experience of the Integra Type-S is just that – crisp, precise, invigorating, & addicting. 

Integra Type-S front

The Integra Type-S has an immediate driver-centric sensation… 

Everything just clicks into place. The Integra Type-S achieves that intoxicating spirit of 90’s-era Honda/Acura driving engagement – but modernized – but in unintrusive ways. And with all the mandates on today’s cars, that’s such a major achievement. Nothing about the Integra Type-S (or CTR) feels numb, simulated, electronic, or over-reaching. It does however, feel light, razor-sharp, genuinely exciting, and ultra-maneuverable. These days in the turbo era, it’s easy to overdose a car with too much horsepower & call it ‘performance’. But what Acura has achieved with the Integra Type-S, is a genuine & undeniable new 6-speed sports sedan/hatch… that doesn’t overpower the experience or lose the essence of its Honda/Acura roots.

Integra Type-S

tire stickers

The only common criticism against the Acura Integra Type-S… 

Is that’s it’s front-wheel-drive at a relatively high price-point by comparison. A lot of people have a hard time signing-up for that. Especially people who don’t have previous ownership experience with Honda/Acura performance models. And admittedly – it is a lil bit of an energy-killer when you jump-out into traffic & spin those front tires as a grown adult. Even more-so when you’re at a mid-$50,000 price point. Especially since a lot of peoples’ real-word driving reflects light-to-light traffic over free-flowing twisties. And especially-especially since Acura (and almost every other carmaker) has done little-to-no marketing the past decade to educate or inspire consumers, and/or create the desire for engaging platforms. Anyway…

People always talk about the downsides of front-wheel-drive. We get it. But no one ever talks about the upsides: Less weight, snappy boost, more forgiving, more efficient, less fatiguing, etc. In its element, the Integra Type-S is an absolute weapon. Over the generations, Honda/Acura has done an unprecedented job of minimizing the drawbacks of a front-wheel-drive performance platform. And this newest FL5/DE5 platform is the pinnacle of those efforts.

The Integra Type-S is supposed to be

A more premium & mature version of the Civic Type-R. Or at least… that’s what we assumed. But there’s a few takeaways that seem to challenge that theory. And yeah, I know I’m making some comparisons to the CTR at this point, but: 1) The Integra Type-S actually makes a few more horsepower than the Civic Type-R. 5 to be exact lol (at 320hp vs 315). That’s totally inconsequential, especially as aftermarket modifications come into play. But for the record, I did actually seem to feel those 5 extra ponies behind the wheel… before I even knew it to be fact. At least I felt something. The Integra Type-S just felt like it pulled on the leash a wee bit harder. Weird I know, maybe it was just the temps/conditions, but I perceived it from the driver’s seat. 2) The Integra Type-S talks-back when you shift it. The exhaust pops & bangs when you get some heat through it in Sport Mode. The Civic Type-R doesn’t do that. Sure – it’s just a little pizzaz that’s been sprinkled into the tune. But it was a welcomed rowdy surprise, when I expected the Type-S to be more buttoned-up & blended-in. 3) Wheels. The Integra Type-S offers an optional COPPER-finish wheel. Not exactly subtle or shy. 4) And of course there’s those unapologetic, aftermarket-esque fender flares to fill up peoples’ rearview mirrors, which are almost a half-inch wider than the Type-R.

Integra Type-S seats ebony

Inside the Acura Integra Type-S…

Aside from the smaller rear spoiler, the interior is the main area where Acura opted to retain a more mature appearance. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the black/white (ebony) interior though. It never really grew on me. The optional all-black interior would be my choice. Or quit playin’ & swap some Type-R seats lol. For the record, the Integra Type-S seats did not feel significantly more comfortable.

Integra Type-S blue

Integra Type-S bronze wheels

Acura needed this win…

Sure, they have some strong options across their lineup… I guess?? But it’s all become nonetheless forgettable, invisible, and/or in vain… because somewhere along the line, Acura lost their true identity & fanbase. To be fair, they’re not the only ones by a long shot. The automotive industry has gone through some very strange, self-inflicted growing pains lately. Abandoning the charisma they once had… to pursue appliance-like mobility. The good news is, Acura seems to have tapped back into their mojo. 

Integra Type-S wider

Integra Type-S

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