How the 2005 Acura NSX and 2018 Honda Civic Type R Stack Up

One is Honda’s supercar. The other is a Civic. But they’re closer in performance than you might think.

byJustin Hughes|

One of these cars is Honda's supercar, with a mid-mounted V6 engine powering the rear wheels to provide a Ferrari experience on a Honda budget. The other car is a Civic. Which one is faster? The answer is not as clear as you might think.

The Acura NSX is Honda's supercar. The original version was designed with the help of racing legend Ayrton Senna. The example used here is a 2005 model, the final year of the original car. Admittedly, having been introduced in 1990, it was running a little long in the tooth by this point. But surely it must be faster than Honda's economy car, the Civic.

Except this isn't just any Civic. This is the 2017 Civic Type R—the front-wheel-drive king of the Nurburgring that already trounced its predecessors in an earlier test. Its 306 horsepower is actually greater than the NSX's 290, and their weights are nearly identical. How does the hot hatch do against Honda's flagship supercar from just 12 years before?

As the great automotive journalist Darth Vader would say, "Impressive. Most impressive." In a drag race from a dead stop, the NSX is quicker off the line. Its rear-wheel drive and rear-biased weight distribution improve traction for the launch, while the wrong-wheel-drive Civic Type R struggles. But after enjoying a healthy lead, the Civic gains back most of the distance lost, losing to the NSX's 13.5-second quarter-mile time by just one-tenth of a second.

Repeating the race with a 40 mph rolling start, it's the Civic Type R all the way. They're even at first, but as the Civic's VTEC turbo kicks in it pulls away from the NSX slowly but steadily. Without the disadvantage of weight transfer away from its drive wheels at launch, the Civic Type R is faster.

Accelerating in a straight line is fun and all, but what about braking? Both cars perform nearly identically in a hard stop from 70 mph. However, the NSX concedes the win to the Civic, which stopped "in a slightly shorter distance."

So the current generation Civic Type R performs about as well as the last generation NSX. That's impressive in itself. What's even more impressive is that the Civic Type R starts at $34,100, while first-generation NSXs are selling on eBay ranging from $30,100 for a 1991 model all the way to $125,000 for this 2003 model. While I love the NSX and have thoroughly enjoyed the NSXs I've driven, I'm forced to admit that the Civic Type R is by far the better deal.