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Acura revives is popular and fun to drive performance-oriented company after 16 years.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The 2023 Acura Integra is a stylish and fun to drive compact sport sedan, enhanced by the A-Spec appearance package.Acura has revived its wildly popular small and sporty Integra for 2023 as its entry level vehicle. But make no mistake, there are no sacrifices to be made when considering the newest version of the Integra. It is both a comfortable daily driver and serious fun when the slightest opportunity presents itself — especially the six-speed manual version I spent a week with.

Although not an official category, sporty cars have always been among my favorites. I define them as upgraded versions of economy cars that provide better performance while still being affordable. They drive better than the base versions while falling short of genuine sports car (or even sports coupe) standards, which can be hard to live with on a day-to-day basis.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The 2023 Acrua Integra A-Spec looks good coming and going, and drives even better than it looks.

In my mind, sporty cars are always small, but can be coupes, sedans or hatchbacks. Performance upgrades have included turbochargers and superchargers, V6 engines replacing standard inline fours, four wheel disc brakes instead of the drums at the rear, wider wheels, and so-called "sport tuned suspensions," which have ranged from minor to semi-serious tweaks.

Many manufacturers have produced such models over the years with varying results. Honda was among the most successful, with several performance-oriented versions of its popular Civic, especially the CRX Si. The Honda launched it luxury Acura brand in 1985, it used the CRX Si as the foundation of the first Integra, which was produced until 2006.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The interior of the 2023 Acura Integra is well designed and can be equipped with virtually all advanced automotive technologies.

The new Integra has a lot to live up to. Car and Driver magazine named the Integra to its annual Ten Best list six times: in 1987, 1988, and 1994 through 1997. The GS-R model was called out specifically in 1994 and 1995. It made a return on the Ten Best list as the Acura RSX, in 2002 and 2003. Over one million Integras were sold before production temporarily ended in 2006.

The 2023 Integra is once again based on the Civic Si, this time the all-new version that debuted last year. The Acura shares the turbocharged 1.5-liter inline four and available six-speed manual transmission. I had a great time testing one in April, but I think the new Integra looks and drives even better.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The front bucket sport seats in the 2023 Acura Integra are comfortable and supportive.

The new Integra comes in three trim levels. The base model starts at $30,800, which is just a couple thousands more than the Civic Si but loaded with luxury and technology features, including a 10.2-inch digital gauge package and the company's excellent AcuraWatch safety system. The next step up is the A-Spec version for $2,000 that includes an appearance package, 18 instead of 17-inch wheels, better tires and more. A Technology Package can be added which includes an Adaptive Damper System, a 9-inch color touchscreen instead of the standard 7-inch version, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Audio, and much more.

Adding peace of mind and lower ownership costs for all 2023 models is the new Acura Maintenance Program which covers select factory-scheduled maintenance, performed at a participating Acura dealership for the first two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. The complimentary program includes standard oil and filter changes, tire rotations and multi-point inspections and is also fully transferrable to subsequent owners while active. The 2023 Acura Integra also comes standard with three years of AcuraLink services at no extra cost.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The available six-speed manual transmisson adds to the driving enjoyment of the 2023 Acura Integra.

I tested the top-of-the-line A-Spec Tech version with the six-speed. Over a week of daily driving, it was always comfortable and fun. I really like the Integra''s more aggressive front end and more stylish dash. Although it shares the engine and transmission with the Si, it felt faster to me, perhaps because it is 5% stiffer than the Civic hatchback that the Si is based on. It also road even better thanks to the Adaptive Damper System which made the suspension feel firmer without ever being harsh.

With the introduction of the 2023 Integra, every Acura model is either new or refreshed in the past two years. Enthusiasts should celebrate the return of the Integra 16-year absence. Although it is Acura's entry level model, I think many buyers would be very happy to stick with it for years to come.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - The hatchback design increases the practiclity of the 2023 Acura Integra.

2023 Acura Integra

Base price: $30,800 (base)

Price as tested: $37,395 (A-Spec Tech)

Type: Compact sport sedan

Engine: Turbocharged 1.5-liter (200 hp, 192 lbs-ft)

Transmission: Continuously variable automatic; 6-speed manual

EPA estimated mileage: 30/36

Length: 185.8 inches

Curb weight: 3,073 pounds

Final assembly: Marysville, Ohio

COURTESY PHOTO: ACURA - A 10.2-inch digital gauge package is standard with the 2023 Acura Integra.

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