Acura recently announced the return of the Integra nameplate in 2022, which is huge news for anyone that’s into Japanese sports cars from the 90s. As Honda and Acura fanatics, this announcement brings back feelings of nostalgia in addition to high-revving hopes for the future. But it also made us wonder why the original Integra was discontinued in the first place.
The Acura Integra was an entry-level sports coupe
The Integra made its debut back in 1986 alongside the Acura Legend. The Integra was the brand’s entry-level sports coupe that offered more luxury and power than a Honda Civic, but it wasn’t as stately as its luxury sedan stablemate. However, the Integra had its own unique personality.
While the first-generation Integra had a short, four-year production run, the automaker offered it in a three-door and five-door hatchback set up in addition to a four-door sedan. Under its hood was a naturally aspirated, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 113 hp and 99 lb-ft of torque, however, a mid-cycle refresh yielded an increase in power to 118 and 103 lb-ft, respectively.
As stated before, the Integra was more luxurious and sportier than its Civic cousin, as such, the first-gen Integra also came with power windows, a sunroof, cruise control, and an audio system with a cassette deck, reports Motor Trend.
The second-generation Integra offered a streamlined look
The second-generation Integra was produced from 1990 to 1993 and it was a drastic change from its predecessor. This time, Acura limited the Integra to a two-door coupe and a four-door sedan configuration, the five-door hatchback was dropped. The automaker updated the car’s styling as well, using a more streamlined approach that incorporated flush-mounted headlights and smoother body lines.
There was more power under the hood in the form of a larger 1.8-liter engine that made 130 hp and 121 lb-ft of torque, but that was upgraded in 1992 to 140 and 126, respectively. That power was routed to the front wheels via a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The real kicker, though, was that the second-gen Integra incorporated a front and rear double-wishbone suspension in addition to anti-lock brakes on the higher GS trim level.
Speaking of higher trim levels, one of the most important introductions from this generation of the Integra was the inclusion of the GS-R trim level in 1992. The Integra GS-R was the first of its kind to feature Honda’s VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) technology, which was used in many Honda and Acura models from then on. The Integra GS-R was powered by a 1.8-liter engine that pushed out 160 hp and 117 lb-ft of torque and could be spun all the way up to 8,000 rpm.
The third-generation Integra is the most recognized
When hearing the name “Acura Integra,” the third generation is probably what comes to mind the most. Also known as the “bug-eye” Integra, this edition of the sports car features quad round headlights and much sleeker styling cues than its predecessors.
The third-gen Integra was produced from 1994 to 2001 in a three-door hatchback or four-door sedan body style. This time, Acura equipped the car with a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter non-VTEC engine in the lower models and a higher-output 1.8-liter VTEC engine for the higher-trim GS-R. The former put out 140 hp while the latter produced 170 hp and 128 lb-of torque while revving all the way up to 8,100 rpm.
The real news during this time was the release of the Integra Type R in 1997, which lasted until 2001. This track-ready version of the Integra featured a seam-welded chassis, an upgraded suspension, larger brakes, and a higher-revving 195-hp, 1.8-liter engine.
The Type-R also weighed less than the GS-R and was equipped with a limited-slip differential for bettering cornering. Some say that the Integra Type was one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars of all time. We find that hard to disagree with.
Why was the Integra discontinued?
The Acura Integra was discontinued after the 2001 model year in favor of the forthcoming RSX in 2002. The RSX did a decent job acting as the entry-level luxury coupe, however, some will say that it never had the same soul as the original Integra.
Nonetheless, we’re excited to see the Integra nameplate coming back in 2022. We suspect that the brand will release it as a coupe and sedan configuration, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a Type R variant.