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The 2024 Acura Integra Type S is the top trim Integra with 320 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.Kunal D'souza/The Globe and Mail

The Acura Integra Type R of the late 1990s was peak Honda. It was the perfect combination of size, weight and power. Its four-cylinder engine was a masterpiece of engineering that spun up to a dizzying 8,400 rpm. It was a Japanese-car legend and there hasn’t been anything like it since. The new Integra Type S, from Honda’s luxury brand Acura, however, manages to capture some of that magic.

The new Type S is, as Honda puts it, “the ultimate street performer.” Think of it as a Civic Type R for grown-ups with the Honda Civic being more of a track tool.

Under the skin, there’s little that separates them. Both are based on the latest Civic platform and use a two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 320 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. For those keeping score, it’s five more horsepower than on the Civic Type R.

It looks more grown up too, with a subtle lip spoiler instead of the large wing that’s on the Civic, and a more attractive rear design. In the top Type S trim, the car is a condensed version of the Acura TLX luxury sports sedan and fits in nicely within the Acura lineup.

An easy way to spot the Type S aside from the badging is by the triple muffler exiting through the centre of the rear bumper. Here, it’s noticeably louder than the one in the Civic. In the “Sport-plus” driving mode, it crackles and pops in between gear changes. It adds an element to the driving experience that’s missing in the Civic.

The Integra is tuned to be more comfortable than the Civic, with softer damper settings and a “Comfort” drive mode that adds a level of docility the Civic doesn’t possess. Expectations should take into account that this is still a stiffly sprung car. With the conditions of most roads in the Toronto area being anywhere from not good to undriveable, it’s something to consider.

With all the settings turned up to max, the Integra feels every bit as tight as the Civic Type R in the corners, with a chassis that communicates exactly where all of the tires are on the road. It delivers a sense of confidence found in few cars. The Type S relishes being driven with verve and vigour, and makes the driver an integral part of the experience. The nimble handling, balance and perfectly weighted steering feels like a throwback to 1990s Honda.

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The Acura adds leather trim to the dash, door panels and rear seats. Meanwhile, the gear shift is inches away from your right hand.

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The 2024 Acura Integra Type S has excellent ergonomics with big tactile knobs and buttons.Kunal D'souza/The Globe and Mail

The Integra’s six-speed manual may be one of the best found in a modern car today. It slots into each of its gears with such a satisfying mechanical thunk that you’ll find yourself shifting for the fun of it.

This car offers so much to the driver and asks little in return. It’s a large and practical five-door hatchback with a big cargo bay and lots of room for four passengers. The ELS Studio 3D audio system is a noticeable upgrade from the Civic, as are the rear seats upholstered in leather. It’s missing the awesome red bucket seats in the Type R, but the Integra’s seats offer more than enough support with a nod toward civility.

The Integra costs about $5,000 more than the Civic Type R. It’s worth it, if its added refinement appeals to you more than the Civic’s track-inspired flavour. If you can find one without a hefty markup, it’s a steal.

Tech specs

2024 Acura Integra Type S

  • Base price/as tested: $55,600/$58,828.50 including $2,728.50 for freight and predelivery inspection, plus taxes
  • Engine: Two-litre inline-four turbocharged with 320 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque
  • Transmission/drive: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • Fuel consumption (litres per 100 kilometres): 11.1 city; 8.3 highway; 9.9 combined
  • Alternatives: Toyota GR Corolla, Volkswagen Golf R, Subaru WRX, Honda Civic Type R
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The Type S gets fender flares and sports a wider track than the standard Integra. With its hunkered down stance, the Type S is a Civic Type R in formalwear.Kunal D'souza/The Globe and Mail

Looks

The Type S gets fender flares and sports a wider track than the standard Integra. Other design changes are a new hood with a functional vent, a larger and more open grille and red Brembo brake calipers peeking through 19-inch wheels. With its hunkered down stance, and especially in black, the Type S is a Civic Type R in formal wear.

Interior

This is a large and practical hatchback with room for four and all their luggage.

It’s just like the Civic inside because that’s what it is. That means perfect ergonomics, big tactile knobs and buttons, and an intuitive infotainment system. The Acura adds leather trim to the dash, door panels and rear seats. The gear shift is inches away from your right hand and the driving position is as good as it gets.

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The Acura adds leather trim to the dash, door cards and rear seats.Kunal D'souza/The Globe and Mail

Performance

It’s a fast car. Top speed is 269 kilometres an hour. Not that top speed matters in this country for anything more than bragging rights. The Type S accelerates quickly, handles beautifully and has really good brakes. It provides a driving experience that leaves you wanting for nothing.

Technology

It has the same dual-axis front suspension and limited-slip front differential that the Type R does. Don’t ask me to explain how it works, just know that it is wizardry. Front-wheel-drive cars with this much power always torque steer (a situation when a car’s engine torque influences its steering). The Type S doesn’t. The six-speed manual has automatic rev matching on both up and downshifts. It can be turned off if you don’t like it.

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The trunk of the 2024 Acura Integra Type S has 688 litres of space under the hatch before folding the rear seats down.Kunal D'souza/The Globe and Mail

Cargo

It has 688 litres of space under the hatch before folding the rear seats down. That’s a lot. It rivals some small-to-medium-sized SUVs.

The verdict

The best Acura in decades and a grown-up version of the brilliant Civic Type R. What’s not to like?

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An easy way to spot the Type S aside from the badging is by the triple muffler exiting through the centre of the rear bumper. It also has a rear diffuser insert that Acura says is functional.Kunal D'souza/The Globe and Mail

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