Opinion: How Acura Can Avoid Messing Up the Integra
Last week, we reported on Acura’s plans to bring back the Integra. In the article, I hinted at how Acura can go about getting it right.
I’d like to expand on that.
First off, the car has to be worthy of the extra price tag that the Acura name commands. It’s likely going to be a Honda Civic underneath, and that’s fine, but the car will need to feel special, inside and out, in order to justify a higher price tag. That will mean features that are optional on most Civics should be standard, and maybe a few things should be standard or available on the Integra that aren’t on the Civic. The interior materials better look and feel even nicer than that of the top-trim Civic.
Second, the car better look good, at least to most eyes. A sexy Integra will sell better than an ugly one. Also, the sun rises in the east, you know.
Third, and this is key, the Integra needs to offer performance. I see Acura going in two directions with this. One way to go would be to offer the base car as a bit more luxurious, but still fun to drive, while offering something equivalent to the Si, and a Civic Type R-based Type S. The other way would be to just offer the car as a performance luxury car with Si and Type R equivalents. I suppose Honda/Acura could also just offer a base car and Si equivalent, leaving the Type R to Honda, but I suspect that could be a mistake.
Fourth, and related to the previous paragraph — the car better offer a freakin’ manual. I know manuals are often irrelevant, but if Acura wants to make this a performance car, it will be taken more seriously if at least one trim level offers three pedals. And if that manual is offered with any and all engines and doesn’t require a sacrifice of creature comforts.
All told, if Acura can strike a nice luxury/performance balance in a car priced not too far north of the Civic, the brand can have a hit on its hands. An RSX for the next generation. Something that makes us forget about the underwhelming (though still fun to drive) ILX. A performance car for the moneyed up-and-coming middle manager.
Or it could swing and miss. I hope that isn’t the case. So let me be that auto journalist who decides to tell a brand how to build a car despite having no product planning experience or access to internal financials. Let me dream, and let’s hope Acura listens.
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