Acura has brought back the Integra.
Mass production of the fifth generation of the five-door sport coupe began Thursday at the Marysville Auto Plant where the new Integra was on display along with three older versions of the car.
It is the first time Acura has built the Integra since 2006, and the first time it has been made in the U.S. Previous versions were produced in Japan.
Acura, Honda’s premium brand, expects the car to begin arriving at dealerships in early June. It will carry a starting price of $30,800; with delivery and handling, the cost is $31,895.
A premium, turbocharged edition that comes with a 6-speed manual transmission will have a sticker price of $35,800 and $36,895 with delivery and handling.
“When you’re working on a project for a long time as we have it seems like you’ll never get to that finish line and now we’ve achieved that,” said Kevin Fausnaugh, the engineering project leader for the car. “It’s very exciting for the team to see all their hard work and how it pays off.”
The Integra is meant to be an entry-level vehicle for Acura with the goal of building a new generation of Acura owners, he said.
The new Integra follows the redesign of other vehicles in the Acura lineup into a more sport, performance-driven look, Fausnaugh said.
“This is supporting the direction of revamping the Acura lineup and brand,” he said.
Fausnaugh likes the styling and said the new transmission, including the optional 6-speed manual transmission, makes the car enjoyable to drive. Also, the hatchback gives the car a practical side for drivers who need to move bigger items.
“It has the sedan look, but has the utility of a hatchback,” he said.
The vehicle is based on the Honda Civic platform. But Fausnaugh said the styling of the Integra is unique along with the interior refinements.
“The ride, the feel, the handling, the finish inside the car, the manual transmission … It’s very smooth to drive,” he said.
With the new Integra now in production, the Acura lineup also consists of the TLX sport sedan, the RDX and MDX sport-utility vehicles and the electrified NSX S. All are built in Ohio. The Integra replaces the ILX.
The Integra is produced on the same line as the TLX at the Marysville Auto Plant.
The car is powered by a 200-horsepower turbocharged engine built at the Anna Engine Plant, also in Ohio.
“It should be fun to drive,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst for the business research and consultant firm IHS Markit. “I’m looking forward to it.”
The reintroduction of the Integra comes as sales of sedans have been sliding in the U.S. in favor of SUVs.
“Customers who want that body style are not as many as there used to be,” she said.
Brinley said she expects Acura to sell 20,000 to 25,000 Integras a year.
“Bringing the Integra nameplate back is all about creating more excitement for the brand,” she said.
Acura is launching the vehicle at a time when inventories of new vehicles are low because of supply shortages, including shortages of semiconductors.
Acura noted that workers were unable to travel to Japan to collaborate onsite with the research and design team because of COVID-19 and instead used video tools in the plant to livestream trial production and collaborate remotely on design changes and processes.
Acura put the car on display in front of the plant along with three older Integras owned by associates.
Nick Amato, an engineer in the market quality transmission group, said he bought his 1995 Integra for $600 while he was in college and has rebuilt it over time. He has worked with members of Honda’s racing team on the car and takes it to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where he has ramped it up to 120 mph.
“I think it looks great,” he said of the new Integra. “I think they nailed the design for what it was trying to aim for, the sport compact segment that it’s in.”
Amato has been able to drive the new Integra. He likes the look and handling of the car along with the practical side of the vehicle.
“You would expect that it’s going to be a fun sporty car,” he said. “I think the car ticks all the boxes, but with all the little extra Acura comfort and luxury.”
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: New Ohio-built Integra expected to hit showrooms early in June