Honda has announced the return of the legend in 2022. The car is expected to be released from the Acura brand in the United States, but will it ever be introduced by Honda in Japan?
Integra coming back in 2022
On August 21, Acura has revealed that the brand will revive the Integra in 2022. After unveiling the NSX Type S at the Monterey Car Week, Acura launched a drone show in the night sky, showing the word “2022” with a silhouette of the original 1986 model to imply the return of the Integra.
In response to that, many Japanese fans of the car have positively reacted to the news, but it is unsure whether the car will actually be launched in Japan too since Honda has kept silent about it. And unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that the new Integra will come to Japan.
The biggest reason I think is because of the difference between the Acura brand in the United States, and the Honda brand in Japan.
Acura was born in 1986, exclusive for the North American market at first. In the same year, the brand launched the Legend and Integra. Honda and Acura people have always said that the brand isn’t just a high-end brand, but also a brand that emphasizes sportiness.
That was why the price range for the Integra was set to be almost equal to that of the Honda Civic. Ever since the Civic was introduced with its CVCC engine to fight the Muskee act, buyers in the North American market have always thought of the Civic as a reliable, yet affordable car for the people.
On the other hand, Honda’s sporty image was weaker in the United States, mainly because of the lack of recognition of F1 with other factors to follow. The Acura brand was born with the aim of creating a sportier brand than its parent.
And seeing the success of the brand, Toyota and Nissan decided to launch their own top-tier brand for the same market, Lexus and Infiniti, respectively.
Those brands were designed to compete directly against high-class European brands such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW to differentiate from Honda’s counterpart. But in the late 90s to early 00s, the world saw a huge shift of trend to SUVs and that made Acura become a luxury brand just like other Japanese brands.
Against this backdrop, the Integra was reintroduced as the Acura RSX with a three-door coupe body. And just like its predecessors, prices were kept low to the Honda brand. We could say the RSX was an important bridge between Honda and Acura for users.
Later on, with the expansion of the Chinese market, the brand rapidly grew to a global luxury brand, and the need for an affordable sports car inside the brand disappeared as time went by.
So why the Integra now?
Moreover, the fact that Acura announced the new model with the Integra name instead of the RSX is also very curious.
The possible reason for this could be a major restructuring of the Acura brand.
Looking at the numbers, Honda’s overall sales in the United States recorded 135,542 units in July. On the other hand, Acura only sold 14,850 units, only 11% of Honda’s sales. Breaking down the sales, the RDX accounted for 39% of the total with the MDX following with 29%. The mid-size TLX sedan came in third place for 19%, the ILX for 13%, and the halo NSX, facing its discontinuation in 2022, only sold 7 units.
In order for Acura to boost up its sales, now is the time to think about revamping its lineup. In addition, Honda has set a global goal of achieving a full-electric lineup by 2040, and the company also needs to shift electric also in the North American market, the company’s main battlefield.
The real reason why Honda decided to revive the car as the Acura Integra should be because the electrical shift made the company difficult to differentiate the brand from its competitors. Rather than releasing as the Honda Integra really means something to decide the brand’s fortune.
Honda has already announced the launch of the Honda Prologue, an electric SUV, with its Acura sibling in 2024. It is unlikely the next Integra will be pure electric but it might come with an electrical powertrain like the e:HEV hybrid system to bring both electrification and sportiness.
As you can see, the revival of Integra is an important project for Honda’s strategy for the next decade. And sadly, its home market is not an important market where sub-compact and minivans are the mainstream for their sales.
However, while the S660, Clarity, Odyssey, Legend, and NSX are ending their time in the Japanese market, it is true that there are some cars like the all-new Civic Hatchback with 6-speed stick shift are somewhat hanging on to restore the sportiness of the company.
There is still a high possibility that Honda might consider introducing the Acura Integra in limited numbers for its home market to respond to the voices of its fans.