Take the Type S Pill: Is Acura’s Luxury Hot Hatch the Real Deal or Just an Overpriced Civic?
The new Acura Integra Type S, from all accounts, is a fantastic enthusiast car. And apart from the very expensive, now-departed NSX, it’s also one of the most desirable cars to wear an Acura badge in the last 20 years.
But at the same it’s also a car that sits in a somewhat strange, conflicting spot. It’s well known that at its roots, the Integra Type S is basically an FL5 Honda Civic Type R with different styling and some extra luxury amenities.
Its platform, engine and transmission, and even its overall interior layout are all either identical or very similar to the less expensive Honda Civic Type R.
The $52,000 Question?
The Integra Type S has a starting MSRP a little over $52,000 — approximately $7000 more than a Honda Civic Type R. But more than just its cheaper Honda cousin the Integra Type S price also puts in it in the realm of other luxury-performance cars.
Once the price tag starts getting into $50,000s you start talking about other luxury-enthusiast cars like the BMW M240i, the Audi S3, its and even the Audi’s hatchback cousin the Volkswagen Golf R.
And compared to the FWD-only Integra, all of these cars offer AWD and in most cases superior horsepower and straight-line performance.
Or if you are more into performance than pure luxury, that price range also includes serious offerings like the Toyota GR Supra, the new Nissan Z or even a well-equipped Ford Mustang GT 5.0.
Can You Find One?
It has to be said that dealer mark up is still a factor, particularly when comparing the Integra Type S to the Civic Type R, And depending on the dealers in your region, the Acura might actually be the cheaper option when ADM is considered. Because from most accounts, a Type S is much easier to find at sticker price than a Type R.
But as the market matures the initial demand starts to wear off, it’ll will be interesting to see how the the Integra Type S does in the enthusiast market. A year or two down the road, a secondhand Type S might be one of the best buys out there.
For now though, the questions are whether or not $52,000 too much money for a front-drive hatch back with a four-cylinder engine? Is the Acura differentiated enough from the Civic Type R to be worth the extra money? Is it luxury enough to win over BMW and Audi buyers?
It will also be interesting to see whether the Type S develops the same kind of aftermarket support and community that the Type R has. The Honda certainly has the head start.
These questions aren’t to diminish the car at all. And we’d absolutely prefer a world with an Integra Type S than one without one. It’s just that we are curious to see kind of niche the Integra Type S makes for itself.
What Does the Future Hold?
Looking at it another way, if you want a well-appointed hot hatchback from a luxury brand with a manual transmission, world class driving dynamics, track-ready capability, the Integra Type S actually has no direct competition.
Yes, Honda has made the latest Civic Type R a little more subdued than the previous version, but there’s likely still a market out there who wants the fun and performance of the Type R with a slightly more “distinguished” image.
As with all cars, it’s all a manner of perspective. And more than anything we are excited to watch the Type S build its identity among today’s enthusiast offerings.
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- Looking at other options in the hot hatch segment? Here's how the Civic Type R stacks up against the GR Corolla and Volkswagen Golf R.