Does the Acura Integra Have What it Takes to Keep Up with the Jetta GLI?
The cult following of the Acura Integra had many enthusiasts anticipating its arrival. Unfortunately, though, the new formula hasn’t stayed faithful to the original in any real way. This begs the question, as a four-door sport sedan, does the Acura Integra beat the Jetta GLI despite having less power? We’re not sure it does, because the Integra is disappointing in more ways than one.
Jetta GLI Performance Trounces the New Integra
Both the 2023 Acura Integra and Volkswagen Jetta GLI offer turbocharged power, but the similarities under the hood end there. In the Volkswagen, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder setup pushes out 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Meanwhile, the 1.5-liter Acura cranks out just 200 ponies and only 192 pound-feet of pulling power.
That’s a significant enough gap to leave the Acura nearly a second behind the Volkswagen by the end of a quarter-mile. This is despite the Acura weighing about 100 pounds less than its German rival.
The shorter overall length of the Integra does have some advantages when it comes to handling, though. A tighter turning radius makes the Acura more city-friendly than the Jetta overall. But on twisty backroads, the adaptive suspension and sportier setup of the GLI come to life.
In that same setting, the Integra just feels a bit lifeless. That the wheels are pushed toward the corners of the car helps recoup some of that lost performance, but overall the Acura lacks the verve displayed by the GLI.
Comparing what’s inside
Hopping behind the wheel of the Jetta GLI presents an upscale cabin not far off from its Audi cousin, the A4. Truthfully, the Acura Integra boasts a similar feel, albeit with Honda accents like honeycomb interior panels. All-told, the Integra feels like an upscale Honda Civic while the GLI feels like a discount Audi. On balance, we’ll call that a draw.
That the Integra is a liftback rather than a pure sedan gives it an edge on cargo space as well. A lower load floor and no encroaching bodywork means that there is a truly impressive amount of space back there.
That’s not to say that the GLI isn’t spacious – a 14.1 cubic-foot trunk is better than most – but the rear hatch of the Acura affords it nearly 10 additional cubic feet of space, according to Car and Driver. Of course, that direct link between the passenger compartment and cargo area also cuts down on refinement. Wind and road noise have little trouble making it through to the front seats.
The Jetta GLI provides more luxury than the Integra
For all the functional space inside the Acura Integra, the Jetta GLI offers more standard luxury kit for the same starting price. Every new GLI comes with heated and ventilated seats, dual-zone climate control, and a power-sliding moonroof.
In addition, the upscale Beats audio system is standard kit in the Volkswagen, as are built-in WiFi and digital instrument cluster.
Despite the same starting costs, the Acura offers just heated seats with no option to add ventilation. Furthermore, there are no rear-seat vents in any version of the Integra, diminishing its standing as a premium option.
The Jetta GLI is a Better Overall Value
Unless cargo space is a non-negotiable item, the Jetta GLI easily provides a better overall driving experience than the Acura Integra. Add the bastardization of an iconic nameplate and the red “A” badge on the trunk starts to feel more like a Scarlet Letter than a selling point.