2024 Acura Integra Type S First Drive: Yassifying the Hot Hatch

When the reborn Acura Integra was first unveiled last year there was lots of silly chatter online about how it was just a warmed-over Honda Civic Si, without a true performance model in the vein of the renowned third-gen Type R – disregarding the fact that the vast majority of old Integras sold were pretty standard sedans and hatchbacks anyway. And with the Civic Type R’s powertrain readily available, it was obviously a given that a performance version would be coming. Lo and behold, less than a year later the new Integra Type S was revealed, packing the Type R’s engine and a host of other upgrades.

After driving the Integra Type S on the fantastic roads around Ojai, California, I can confidently say that not only is it one of the best hot hatches on sale, I prefer the Integra to its Civic Type R sibling. It’s like Acura took the Type R and ran it through one of those yassification filters, with the Integra Type S emerging as the sillier, more exciting alternative. 

2024 Acura Integra Type-S bronze wheels

I think the regular Integra is an attractive car albeit not an especially dramatic one, but the Type S turns it up a handful of notches. The Type S has prominent round fender flares that make it 2.8 inches wider than the standard car, and the track has been increased by 3.5 inches up front and 1.9 inches in the rear. The flares are tacked-on – a much cheaper solution than actually stamping new fenders and doors – and I think they really suit the wild styling. New 19-inch wheels are an inch larger and a bit wider than the Integra A-Spec’s, and Acura says they actually weigh two pounds less than the 18s. The standard wheel color is dark gray, which looks fine, but the optional bronze finish is a must.

The front bumper is super aggressive, with large side intakes and a lower center opening that puts the intercooler on display. The grille gets a new diamond pattern like the MDX and TLX Type S models, with that same pattern used for the bumper intake mesh as well. There’s a slim hood vent that’s actually functional, increasing airflow by 170% to help cool the engine.

The Type S also gets deeper side skirts and an awesome gloss black rear diffuser, but the lip spoiler at the edge of the hatch is the same as the Integra A-Spec’s unless you get the carbon-fiber accessory spoiler, which is bigger and has a unique design. I wish there was the option of a large wing like what you get on a Type R, but that’s surely something the aftermarket will rectify.

2024 Acura Integra Type-S front

Fewer changes were made to the interior. The Type S sadly doesn’t get the Civic’s hip-hugging racy bucket seats, instead using the same seats as the standard Integra. Luckily they’re still plenty supportive, with thick bolsters on both the seat back and base, and the Type S gets unique perforation and suede inserts down the center that help keep your butt in the seat. This means there’s no option for ventilation but the seats are heated as standard, something not offered on the Civic.

The lower passenger side of the dash matches the seat color, unlike in the regular Integra, and most of the steering wheel gets nice perforated leather. A 9-inch touchscreen and 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster are standard, and the Integra gets a pretty nice head-up display too.

The Integra Type S uses the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as the Civic Type R, but with its own tuning and slightly more power. In the Type S the motor makes 320 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, 5 HP more than the Type R and 120 HP and 118 lb-ft more than the standard Integra’s 1.5-liter turbo four. The only transmission offered is a six-speed manual that has Honda’s great automatic rev-matching system, which can be turned off if you want. (The shifter is mostly leather-wrapped too, which will be much nicer than the Type R’s all-metal knob on hot and cold days.)

Peak power comes in at 6,500 rpm while peak torque is reached from 2,600 to 4,000 rpm, and the engine is super gratifying to rev out to its 7,000-rpm redline. Honda continues to produce some of the best manual transmissions on sale, with the Integra’s stick having a short throw and really nice action, plus an easy, firm clutch. Second gear tops out at 62 mph while the Type S reaches around 85 mph in third, perfect for the kind of twisty roads where the car excels. Passing power is excellent, and though Acura hasn’t given an official figure, the Type S will make the 0-to-60 run in the low 5-second range.

Acura says the Integra Type S was developed to be all about an emotional driving experience and on-road performance versus the outright track capability of the Civic Type R, and to that end I think it’s even more fun, especially in everyday situations. The steering is impeccable, heavier than the Type R’s while remaining super precise and communicative. Super grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires and a limited-slip differential are standard fit, and the Type S easily handles mid-corner adjustments and off-camber turns with ease. There’s just the right amount of torque steer and turbo lag to keep things entertaining, and the traction and stability control are mostly unobtrusive. 

2024 Acura Integra Type-S engine

Adaptive dampers are standard, adjusting depending on drive mode. In Comfort mode the ride is supple and smooth, but even in Sport+ it’s not too stiff or harsh. Acura increased the thickness of the front stabilizer bar, and there’s almost no body roll or pitching even when aggressively throwing the car into a turn. The Type S also gets larger Brembo brakes with 4-piston calipers up front that provide strong, linear braking with zero fade. 

My biggest issue with the Type R is how it sounds, and the Type S greatly rectifies the problem. While it’s got three centrally mounted exhaust tips like the Type R, the Integra’s system is unique. All three tips are the same size – with the center tip’s opening being the largest – and there’s an active exhaust valve that adjusts according to the drive mode.

2024 Acura Integra Type-S exhaust tips

Though it doesn’t equal the insanity of the Hyundai N exhaust, in Sport+ the Type S emits nice pops and bangs in all sorts of situations, especially on overrun and when downshifting, and there’s no annoying drone at cruising speeds. Crucially, the Type S passes my extremely scientific Eurobeat Test: Can I hear the exhaust even when I’m blasting my Initial D Eurobeat playlist with the windows up? That the Type S’ exhaust is that loud is especially impressive given how good the 16-speaker ELS 3D sound system is.

At $51,995 including destination the Integra Type S is the priciest hot hatch you can buy, unless you count the Mercedes-AMG GLA45. But the new Civic Type R is expensive now too, starting at $44,890 – barely cheaper than the Volkswagen Golf R.

The Acura offers a more premium interior and features you can’t get on the Civic, without softening or detracting from the performance. It’s the perfect complement to the Type R, appealing to a different sort of customer and providing a driving experience that no other brands can match. The Integra Type S is a worthy successor to the Integras of yore.

2024 Acura Integra Type-S rear

Leave a Comment