When Acura announced that it would be reviving the storied Integra name, this is not what we had in mind. It turns out that Honda has other ideas in China, as images on the website of the country’s ministry of industry and information technology – published by Chinese automotive portal Autohome – show a mildly remodelled version of the new 11th-generation Civic sedan.
The Civic proper is also due to be sold in the Middle Kingdom, but that car will be built by Dongfeng Honda in Wuhan, whereas the Integra is set to be produced by Guangqi Honda in Guangzhou as part of a longstanding joint venture with GAC.
The strategy of selling two almost identical Hondas in China is nothing new – the GAC-built Vezel (HR-V to you and me) and Dongfeng’s XR-V fight for the same market space. It’s similar to what Toyota did in Japan until last year – the Alphard was sold in Toyopet dealerships, while the Vellfire was only offered at Netz Stores. Of course, in that instance, both models were built at the same Toyota Auto Body plant in Mie, Japan.
On the Integra, the styling changes amount to redesigned front and rear fascias, with the rest of the car being recognisably a Civic. Whereas the latter features a polarising body-coloured bar over the grille, the Integra gets a more conventional six-point opening flanked by slimmer, shapelier headlights. Together with the sharp bumper contours and a single centre air intake, this gives the car an almost Mazda 6-like look.
At the back, the Integra sports distinctive inverted L-shaped taillights that flow into the bootlid and the number plate recess, as well as a more aggressive rear bumper with vertical reflectors, a centre fog light and a large black insert that hides the twin tailpipes.
As with the Civic, the Integra will be available with the Honda Sensing suite of active safety features, along with the adaptive matrix LED headlights from the Japanese-market hatchback. There will also be a range of 16-, 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels, the last of which has a rather handsome two-tone split-spoke design. Power will come from the usual 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo four-cylinder engine (in the higher 182 PS specification available for the Civic globally) that will almost certainly be mated to a CVT.
There’s no denying that this Integra falls well short of the expectations placed on the reborn Acura version. While also slated to be built on the Civic’s platform, that car is widely tipped to be a two-door coupé (harking back to the iconic third-generation DC model) and feature a more driver-focused powertrain and chassis. No technical details have been revealed just yet, but we know it will debut sometime next year.
We’re still holding out hopes for the Acura model to be sold globally as a Honda, but the existence of this Chinese version has muddied the waters somewhat. After all, the Japanese carmaker could have gone with literally any other name for this warmed-over Civic, so why did it choose such an iconic moniker – and risk confusing customers of both cars in the process?
Anyway, what are your thoughts on this Chinese-market Integra? This writer believes that while the new Civic is sleeker and more mature than the last, this car is sportier and possibly more attractive. But what do you think – do you like the look of this car, and do you think it should have been called an Integra at all? Sound off in the comments section after the jump.
GALLERY: 2022 Honda Civic in Thailand