…Plus a Brief History of the Iconic Sport Compact Car
At supercars.net, we’re laser-focused (as our name suggests) on creating content that revolves around the world’s greatest supercars. However, the need to include more “regular” cars in the conversation is not lost on us either; after all, so many of these automobiles have contributed significantly to the vast and impressive automotive landscape we now see on history’s canvas.
One such car is the Acura/Honda Integra, and the automaker just revealed that they are bringing it back to their line-up after a 20-year hiatus. It was Acura – Honda’s North American based luxury division – who took the reigns on making this surprise announcement during Monterey Car Week, so there’s nothing definitive just yet on whether the parent company will produce their own take on it as well. Oh, and let’s not forget that they also unveiled the new limited-production Acura NSX Type S.
What has been confirmed is that production will begin in 2022, and all media – albeit provided in teaser form – indicates that the new Integra will once again take the form of a 2-door sport compact coupe/hatchback. “The Integra is back,” Jon Ikeda, VP of Acura, said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to say the Integra is returning to the Acura lineup with the same fun-to-drive spirit and DNA of the original, fulfilling our commitment to Precision Crafted Performance in every way—design, performance and the overall driving experience.”
Reintroducing another Type R variant for the new Integra needs to be both the bare minimum and standard bearer, if the brand truly hopes to generate sufficient fanfare and interest; particularly from sports car enthusiasts and the performance-loving community, which will serve as the catalysts in doing so. At this conjecture, giving the green-light on a new Integra Type R feels as natural as it does necessary, with Honda already having a treasure trove of a parts bin to loot from; sharing some DNA with the impressive Honda Civic Type R seems logical, and could only produce positive results.
The above rendering (first seen on Instagram) pays some proper homage to the original Integra Type R – a car which would go on to help define the hugely popular sport compact and import car genres in the late ’90s. More on that iconic car, below.
The ‘OG’ ITR
From a North American point of view, the last model year for the Integra was effectively in 2001. After being collaboratively introduced in 1985 by Honda and Acura, the car would live through three generations within that time frame, with the Integra Type R (DC2) – first introduced in Japan in 1995 – eventually becoming its halo model. Exclusively sold under the Acura flag west of the Atlantic, the Type R provided top-of-the-line performance within the Integra roster, and is most famous for its peppy, high-revving and naturally-aspirated 197 hp b18c5 engine. Significant improvements to the chassis also ensured that the front-wheel drive sport compact was just as beloved for its handling capabilities and raw nature.
While the Integra badge would persevere in the post-DC2-era through Honda, the 2001-2006 Honda Integra was produced solely for certain countries in the eastern hemisphere. For the North American markets, the car was ultimately replaced by the RSX while continuing to be branded as an Acura. While both the Integra and RSX shared basically the same underpinnings – and for the most part, the same appearances – it became a lot more difficult for those in the west to consider the Integra and RSX as contemporaries. Here, the RSX felt more like a successor or even a different model altogether, and not necessarily in a good way. The biggest reason for this? There were no Type R models produced for any markets outside of Japan.
Today, the Acura Integra Type R has gained a cult-following and is wildly sought-after amongst grassroots motorsports circles, the tuner community and avid car collectors alike. While the original ITR will always occupy a special place in our hearts, we also hope that a modern iteration of the car will breathe new life into the brand and the return of its iconic sport compact model.