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Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2024 finalist

How many times and in how many different forms can the Honda Civic Type R be named Motor Authority Best Car To Buy? That’s one of the questions the Acura Integra Type S poses in this year’s competition.

The iconic Acura Integra nameplate returned in 2023, and it was sharp enough to become a Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2023 finalist. But in the end it wasn’t powerful enough and didn’t handle sharply enough to win. The new Acura Integra Type S model just might have enough of both.

With more power, a retuned suspension, extra cooling, bigger brakes, and revised aerodynamics, the Acura Integra Type S plays well with kids and adults

Acura Integra Type S

Acura Integra Type S

The heart of the matter is the engine swap. The base Integra’s turbo-4 is replaced with the Honda Civic Type R’s 2.0-liter turbo-4 huffing up to 25.2 psi of boost for 320 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. For those with the sharp pencils in the room, that’s 5 hp more than the Type R thanks to a slightly different tune, though you’ll never actually notice the power difference. Bragging rights are another matter. 

The Type S only comes with a short-throw 6-speed manual transmission that picks off satisfying shifts. Power only goes to the front wheels, but the limited-slip differential helps control the power delivery with only a hint of torque steer.

Its engine is a gem that provides a high giggle factor. Senior Editor Kirk Bell noted the Type S’s engine is even chattier than in the Type R, at least from outside the car. The Type S features the Type R’s exhaust system with triple outlets, but lacks the Honda’s front resonator, resulting in a louder exhaust note.

Acura Integra Type S

If the Type R scores a 10 for pugnacity, the Type S has been dialed down to an 8. The softer suspension has no Race drive mode. However,  as we found during Best Car To Buy testing, it’s still up to track duty without falling all over itself. The Type S remains composed on the track thanks to its beefier stance. It’s 3.9 inches wider up front and 1.9 inches wider in the rear. Type S models get a 2-mm larger front stabilizer bar over standard Integras, and the solid rear stabilizer bar is also 2 mm wider than the Integra A-Spec model. Acura actually slowed the Type S’s steering system over the standard Integra with a variable ratio that ranges from 11.62:1 at full lock to 14.9:1 on center. 

On the track with repeated use, the larger brakes never faded. They grow 1.5 inches up front to 13.8 inches and 0.9 inch in the rear to 12.0 inches over standard Integras. The fronts also use Brembo 4-piston calipers. They did smoke initially, but the pedal never got squishy. We recommend high-test brake fluid and different pads for longer track days. 

One of our favorite aspects of the Integra Type S is that it’s an undercover Civic Type R. The subtle body kit flares the fenders, slight rocker extensions are barely noticeable, the rear lip spoiler is small, and both front and rear diffusers exist but aren’t visually loud. It’ll take a keen eye and more than a glance to know this isn’t a standard Integra. The triple exhaust outlets are the largest tell-tale sign. 

Acura Integra Type S

Acura Integra Type S

The interior only seats four rather than five, but the Integra’s 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster and 9.0-inch touchscreen carry over. The sport seats up front do as well, though with firmer bolstering. The Type R’s snug bucket seats weren’t ported over, which larger Americans will appreciate, but they were missed during our track day. The seats are good looking, and while comfortable, they don’t make the interior feel special like the seats in the Type R.

All of the Integra’s flaws outside of power carry over to the Type S model. They include a compromised rear seat with limited headroom and a knees-up seating position, a tile-based infotainment system that already looks dated, flaky Apple CarPlay, and a price tag that feels $10,000 too high at $51,995. It’s also $10,000 more than a Civic Type R, which doesn’t seem justified, and itself is about $5,000 too expensive. 

Is a more civil, grown-up Civic Type R the ideal car for our competition? Is a $10,000 premium too much to ask for Acura’s hot hatch? Will the Type R’s powertrain in an under-the-radar package be enough for the Acura Integra Type S to clinch the win and be named Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2024 over an American supercar, a German sport coupe, America’s original muscle car, and a high performance electric sedan? Check back on Jan. 3 when we reveal the winner, along with the champs from our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports.

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