Honda Civic Type R vs. Acura Integra Type S: Which FWD King Should You Get?

Two identical twins separated at birth grow up living two different lives only to accidentally meet up at summer camp years later. Despite sharing the same DNA, they have different identities and speak with different accents. After a brief stint as frenemies, they accept their similarities and differences and embrace a common goal. Walt Disney’s 1998 blockbuster The Parent Trap starring Lindsay Lohan and Lindsay Lohan may as well have predicted the friendly rivalry between the 2023 Honda Civic Type R and the 2024 Acura Integra Type S.

These Japanese hatchbacks share the same platform, five-door configuration, powertrain, and more. They both carry legendary names with hefty reputations in JDM culture, and both aim to deliver silly amounts of driving fun for the buck. That’s where the similarities end because when you put the spec sheets down and experience them in the real world, you quickly realize they are very different beasts. But beasts nonetheless.

Jerry Perez
2023 Honda Civic Type R2024 Acura Integra Type S
Base Price (as tested)$44,890 ($45,345)$51,995 ($55,971)
Powertrain2.0-liter turbo-four | six-speed manual transmission | front-wheel drive2.0-liter turbo-four | six-speed manual transmission | front-wheel drive
Horsepower315 @ 6,500 rpm320 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque310 lb-ft @ 2,600-4,000 rpm310 lb-ft @ 2,600-4,000 rpm
Curb Weight3,188 pounds3,219 pounds
0-60 mph4.9 seconds (C/D)5.1 seconds (C/D)
Seating Capacity44
Cargo Volume24.5 cubic feet24.3 cubic feet
EPA Fuel Economy22 mpg city | 28 highway | 24 combined21 mpg city | 28 highway | 24 combined
Quick TakeMini race car vibes for daysAn elegant hot hatch with refined chops

Last October I had the opportunity to drive a camouflaged prototype of the Integra Type S at Honda’s gigantic test oval in Tochigi, Japan. The experience didn’t reveal a whole lot about the car, as it only involved flooring the accelerator and holding it down as I lapped a 2.48-mile oval with a wall-like 45 degrees of banking at 130 mph. If anything, it spoke to its stability and cushier, quieter interior.

Similarly, earlier this summer I was invited to a track day at Putnam Road Course in a production-spec Civic Type R. This was a more revealing test as it took place in the kind of environment the Type R is designed for. Its sharpness, balance, grip, and mini-race-car vibes were on full display that day.

Those isolated experiences were too dissimilar to arrive at any conclusions about the Japanese twins, not to mention that neither involved driving on public roads. It wasn’t until last month, however, that I was able to drive both cars back to back. I ran errands, took kids to school, and even managed to squeeze a road trip in each car to see what they were like on longer hauls. After spending a week, 600 miles, and a dozen hours in each car, I walked away with a full understanding of each vehicle’s pros and cons.

Acura Integra Type S: The Daily Warrior

Power, finesse, and seriously cool looks: that’s what the Acura Integra Type S is all about. It’s a real darling that dazzles with its flashy front end and sculpted rear. Plus, it features some creature comforts that should be in the Civic Type R—but aren’t—though these tack on an additional 31 pounds. I’m talking about heated, leather-trimmed seats, a crispy ELS sound system, and parking sensors to make sure you don’t rip those diffusers off on a rogue curb.

A more forgiving suspension, slightly less edgy dynamics, and a more refined cabin make the Integra Type S the weapon of choice for fun-loving commuters. Or should I say, fun-loving commuters in their 30s and 40s? Listen, I’m not getting any younger and I welcome any car that I can easily get in and out of, doesn’t make me wince when I drive over a speedbump, and pampers me like the house cat that I am.

However, it’s what makes the Type S a phenomenal daily warrior that keeps it from feeling as razor-sharp as the Type R. For starters, it’s slightly slower from zero to 60 mph despite its five-horsepower advantage, reaching this mark in 5.1 seconds compared to the Honda’s 4.9, according to Car and Driver. Even at speed, the steering feels slower and the entire driving experience is less communicative. I’m talking about minute differences between the two here, but when you spend a week with each car back to back, you notice them right away.

Honda Civic Type R: The King of the Castle

If the Type R shapeshifted into a human, it would definitely reenact that scene from Borat where he says, “King in the castle, king in the castle, I have a chair.” That’s the kind of vibe I get from the spicy hatchback, and that’s exactly what makes it so damn good. Despite being a serious performer, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. [Ed. note: Wawaweewa. -CT]

As I mentioned in my recent review, the Type R is just a Civic Hatchback that likes to do Civic Hatchback things like being an economy-ish car. However, push a button and dig a little deeper and it turns into a rowdy number with a big attitude. The steering is divine, the pedals are communicative, the shifter is precise, and whether you’re accelerating, braking, or turning, you feel like you’re in a sports car that costs at least twice as much.

It’s slightly less livable than the Type S, though again, I’m talking about very small margins here. The lack of heated seats and nicer materials throughout the cabin can make a difference during everyday ownership. That said, my kids reported better headroom in the Civic’s backseat than in the Acura’s, so consider that if you plan on having folks in the back.

Which One Should You Buy?

As Lohan and her fictitious identical twin learned during their journey to get their parents back together, it’s better to focus on the objective than on the differences at hand. Despite being essentially the same car, the Civic and the Integra are different enough that one is bound to be a better fit over the other depending on your needs and wants. I highly suggest you test them both before making a decision.

If I had to spend my own greenbacks, I’d go for the Civic Type R. Not only is it considerably cheaper, but it simply feels more alive, and ultimately, more soulful. It’s the kind of car that you park and then turn back as you walk away just to get another glimpse of it. It’s not perfect and I certainly wish it borrowed some of the Integra’s niceties, but it makes up for it in other ways.

Regardless of which of these two you choose (or maybe you go for the Toyota GR Corolla), one thing is for sure: What a time to be alive.

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