Here’s Every Car The $43,990 Honda Civic Type R Competes With

Civic Type R Price Topshot

The big number for Honda fans is finally out. If you live in America, the brand new Honda Civic Type R costs $43,990 including a $1,095 freight charge. While still in the more attainable end of the performance car pool, that’s a lot of money, especially considering what you can get for that sort of coin. Let’s round up every reasonably quick driver’s car within punching range of the Civic Type R to see what each has to offer.

Nissan Z

2023 Nissan Z O 11
Photo credit: Nissan

The obvious heavy-hitter is the new Nissan Z. While it does offer 400 horsepower and a manual gearbox, it’s a bit too loud inside to be a GT car and it’s not nearly the most involving sports coupe on the market. During spirited driving, the shifter isn’t nearly as precise as an old 350Z’s linkage and the numb steering makes it difficult to trust the front end. Plus, the base Sport model doesn’t get big brakes, forged wheels, or a limited-slip differential. Still, this thing’s a tuner’s delight, with Ecutek already having cracked the ECU. One way or another, you’ll have to compromise if you want 400 horsepower and rear-wheel-drive for $41,015 including a $1,025 freight charge.

Camaro 1SS 1LE

Camaro 1ss 1le
Screenshot: Chevrolet

Speaking of compromises, if you’re okay with something that’s not Japanese, not especially highbrow, and $4,005 more than a Civic Type R, there’s always the Chevrolet Camaro 1SS 1LE. At $47,995 including a steep $1,395 freight charge, it’s a mullet-weilding trackday weapon with one of the finest chassis on any front-engined rear-wheel-drive car today. Brake pedal feel is as confident as a Toastmasters champion, the steering is surprisingly communicative, and the LT1 engine is an absolute torque monster. Forget about the badge on the front, this is what many performance cars from much posher brands aspire to be.

Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R
Photo credit: Volkswagen

If four-season grip is of concern, the Toyota GR Corolla and Volkswagen Golf R are formidable all-wheel-drive weapons. The Golf is astonishingly quick, rather refined, and packs one of the most infuriating infotainment systems ever to come out of Germany. I love the EA888 engine, but Volkswagen’s latest infotainment system makes first-generation iDrive feel as intuitive as iOS. At $45,385 including a $1,095 freight charge, it’s also more expensive than the Civic Type R, but that’s the price of more toys and all-wheel-drive. Plus, there’s a certain maturity and comfort to the Golf R that most hot hatches lack.

Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Gr Corolla Morizo Greymetallicmatte 012
Photo credit: Toyota

Or is it? Because the Toyota GR Corolla starts at $36,995 including a $1,095 freight charge while packing serious all-wheel-drive punch. Sure, if you want the Torsen front and rear differentials, heated seats, and a banging stereo, you’re looking at $39,445 including freight, but that’s still a bargain. It’ll be a difficult little bugger to get your hands on, but its trick center diff and available front-and-rear Torsen differentials should make it an absolute piss missile in the snow. Granted, the Morizo Edition pictured above costs a lot more, but the base Core model with a few option boxes ticked still promises to be plenty fun.

Hyundai Elantra N

Img 2871 Resize 16x9
Photo credit: Thomas Hundal

Finally, there’s the bargain option, the Hyundai Elantra N. I’ve logged plenty of miles in the Elantra N and in various FK8 Civic Type Rs, and I’d say that the Elantra N is a better car and almost as good of a driver’s car as the old Type R. The damping is spot-on, the chassis will happily rotate upon a lift of the throttle or a brush of the brakes, and the brakes are most certainly up to track duty. The steering’s also quite good, with weight building naturally so you can really lean on the front end in the corners. Perhaps best of all, you can shut the whole thing up, go into comfort mode, and have a normal compact car with heated seats and a heated steering wheel and a decent stereo when you just want to chill out. At $33,245 including a $1,095 freight charge, it’s an absolute bargain.

2023 Honda Civic Type R Reveal
Photo credit: Honda

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Civic Type R is a good performance car. The last one was truly superb and it seems like Honda hasn’t tampered with the formula. However, it’ll need to bring its a-game if it wants to stay ahead of the pack, especially with a price tag starting with a four. Here’s hoping we get our mitts on Honda’s little rocket soon to really see if it improves on the old car. With 315 horsepower, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, a six-speed manual gearbox, and a limited-slip differential, the new car promises awesome driver engagement in a practical five-door package.

Lead photo credit: Honda

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58 Responses

  1. I will say you really can’t understand why people like these cars so much unless you drive them. I bought a 2012 golf R that was almost completely stock about 3 years ago and fell in love immediately. I could haul 4 people with some cargo in a car you could also take to the track.
    At 160,000 miles I had plugs and coils and a clutch invested in it. Bought it for $15,000 and sold it for $14,000 3 years later. Went and bought a 2018 Golf R with the money and 1ove it even more.

  2. I don’t think it’s competing with anything RWD or with a V8 in it. If someone wants a performance Civic, they likely have a longer commute, or you know… WINTER to deal with. That eliminates the Z and Camaro right off the bat.

    The VW is nice but you know it’s going to cost a lot more to operate than a Honda, with greater problems, plus the styling is pretty questionable on the mk8 imho.

    The Corolla, okay sure but once you find one for sale and read the markup on it, it’s no longer really in competition with the Type R, and it’s rarity again makes it sort of questionable to run in any type of salty winter environment.

    The Hyundai is the only car it’s really competing against imho, but look at it. Ew david.

          1. Doing horribly in my experience. I once saw a Camaro, a Corvette, and a Mercedes close down the highway because they all got sideways on a three lane road and effectively blocked it. People don’t realize even their pedestrian Mercedes or BMW have summer tires on them. Never mind the Camaro/Corvette/Mustangs trying to do something in 3 inches of snow ultra high performance tires on.

    1. I actually laughed out loud when I got to “it’s really no longer in competition with the Type R..”

      Once the first GRCs finally go on sale, many will be marked up, yes. But there are many MSRP-only Toyota dealers out there. All else equal I’d rather have a CTR but I’ve looked far and wide and have personally found zero dealers taking MSRP. Best I’ve seen is $5k over for a mid-late 2023 car. Looks like right now, for one of the first CTRs off the boat you’re looking at 10-25k over. All signs are pointing to ~4000 per year for the US, far fewer than the GRC. It will be a nightmare to get one for reasonable $$ for the entire run.

      1. My thought was that the GR gets downgraded because of dealership markups when a 2017 CTR is selling for $40k with 60k in miles. No way we see anything close to MSRP for the majority of these.

        They both are in the same hypothetical boat that prices them somewhere near slightly used German sports sedans.

    2. What makes you think that the CTR’s markup isn’t going to rival or be higher than the GRC? When the CTR first came to the states, the first few were documented to sell with $50k dealer markups, making it a nearly $100k CIVIC!

    3. Fortunately you can get the same glorious powertrain in a Veloster or a Kona…and as someone who’s driven 2 out of the 3 (and owns one) I can assure you it’s just as good in the other cars. I absolutely love the way the Elantra N drives but the wife and I couldn’t get past the looks either.

      1. I drove a Veloster N and then a Elantra N back to back. A friend had the Veloster and I got lucky and was able to test drive an Elantra. I just didnt feel like the Elantra was on the same level as the Veloster. I get that the Elantra might have been a bit more subdued because it only had 12 miles on it (so it might have been in some software limited break-in), but it wasnt as punchy and the DCT didnt kick as hard as the Veloster, especially in the downshifts. Is the Elantra just as good once it breaks in?

        And now we’ve found out all those DCTs might strand you on the side of the road.

        1. Meh. Not every DCT was affected (mine wasn’t in the recall batch) and I’d still rather deal with whatever happens with the Hyundai as it comes than deal with another VW to be honest. The warranty is good enough that at least I know I can get it fixed and the first 3 years of preventative maintenance are on them.

          And before someone mentions the story that went viral about the Elantra N over revving and Hyundai refusing to fix it that car was absolutely, 100% tuned. There’s no way in hell a stock automatic transmission with a hard rev limiter is going to do what that guy claimed his did. The guy clearly tuned the car, blew the engine up, and tried to switch it back to stock for a warranty claim.

          1. Maybe it isn’t faster, but 100% of the time I drove the Veloster I had a big goofy grin. The experience was just more visceral in the Veloster than when I drove the Elantra. I went into that test drive thinking I would probably buy it, and even with it feeling less than the Veloster, it was still fun and i still probably would have bought it. But what killed it for me was the crossbar things in the back of the trunk. You cant flip the seats down to put bulky stuff in the car cuz there’s metal tubes blocking the opening.

  3. I’m sorry, but I have a hard time envisioning anything whose prices starts with a “4” as being a bargain…..prices for new cars have gone way past nuts, straight thru silly and right into stupid.

          1. It’s tuned differently now and apparently it’s not the total buzzkill that it once was….but IMHO it’s still lipstick on a pig. I’d rather sacrifice AWD and get the dual clutch automatic in the GTI or the N cars that drive a WRX with a CVT.

            Manual is the only proper way to have that car. I personally think it’s a bit of a shame that the major Japanese manufacturers either can’t or won’t make a decent performance oriented automatic, but then again they sell every manual version of these cars they make so I get why they don’t care.

            But as someone who has to sit in traffic all the time? Boy would I love a DCT in something like a GR Corolla….

              1. I had a MK7.5 GTI and it had problems. Wound up in the service bay twice before 5,000 miles because of misfiring issues. Both times they said they couldn’t figure out why, told me to put better gas in it (I only ever filled it with 93), tossed some cleaner in the gas tanks, and sent me on my way.

                By the time I was getting rid of it (11,000 miles) it was having problems starting up periodically, but whatever…not my problem anymore. I’m not going to say I’ll never buy another VW product but I’d definitely be hesitant to.

  4. I know I’m probably in the minority here, but no matter how hard I try, I can NOT get excited or intrigued about anything sporty or wearing an R Honda has released since the EK CTR and the S2000CR. Something about Honda and their overbearing corporate posture of snobbery and infallibility, reinforced by their hardest core fans, completely turns me off from everything about them. I don’t know why, but I view every other car in this list with appreciation and some aspiration (400Z, Elantra N, Golf R), but the CTR to me just screams “I’m a boy racer and I demand to be noticed!!”

    1. I dunno, I get that feel from the German performance brands but not really with Honda. Maybe I haven’t interacted with the fanbase enough to recognize it, but the Type R generally seems earnest and pure in the way that old-school Hondas used to be: FWD, manual, and a hatch. I wouldn’t personally own one as I prefer my cars comfy instead of sporty, but I don’t see the ‘Type R’ brand now as demonstrably different from what it used to be. My favorite still has to be the ’90s Accord Euro Type R with its big ‘ol wing and touring-car looks.

      1. The way I see the Germans is similar, but at least the owners embrace that their cars are always ticking timebombs and just waiting to financially ruin them. Maybe my distaste for Honda is based off the knowledge that they’re no more reliable or durable than anything else on the road anymore, but their corporate standpoint and the “I’ll die on this hill” mentality of the owners is that they still possess the same qualities that they had in the 80’s and 90’s for nails-tough durability… without bothering to notice that their car spends just as much time in for repairs as their neighbor’s Ford/GM/Nissan. IDK, something about it just really irks me. Honda is that one brand that- in the eyes of many, can do no wrong (and they won’t hesitate to tell you about it), and that’s simply not the case anymore.

  5. Maybe it’s priced to get more of the Eventual Transaction Price ™ into Honda’s coffers? The Ns would be ruling the roost if they could master the art of providing warranty service to back up that paper. I’ve given up on them providing fewer defective units.

  6. Loved this sentence “Brake pedal feel is as confident as a Toastmasters champion”

    Just imagine a gray-haired 68 year-old Toastmasters champion hammering away on a Civic Type R…
    To the salesperson: “Uh…it’s for my grandson’s 18th birthday”

  7. Unfortunately for any of these, I’d need to consider what the actual transaction prices are. We know the Civic, Corolla, and Z (for now) will have their dealers salivating over a new boat from moving one.

    Any time I’ve looked for a Golf R, it seems like there is $10k tacked on to it. I’d be surprised if Hyundai dealers aren’t trying to hold the Elantra and Kona N cars ransom for a nice bonus profit.

    Looks like Camaros in general might not be marked up, maybe the SS 1LE is the exception to that.

    And if I am spending $60k after markup, I guess I’d take a run at a M240i instead. Think BMW has been doing orders at MSRP in enough places.

  8. I personally like the Camaro the best on this list… It’s one of the last cars you can buy with a V8 and a Manual transmission and pictures don’t do it justice to see one in person is amazing! The CTR… yeah I liked these kind of boy racer cars when I was younger but now that I am in my 40’s a blacked out murdered Camaro looks better even better in sleeper mode with no body kit or wings! The original Civic SI was more appealing toe because the only give away was the basket handle spoiler on the back other then that it looked almost identical to a regular civic.

    1. It’s hard to overstate how good that chassis is as well. I’ve driven both the V6 and V8 variants and both are a riot. The 6.2 is a glorious treat for the senses between that exhaust note and gut punching torque, but enthusiasts shouldn’t turn their noses up at the 6 either.

      A 335 horsepower NA V6 would be celebrated if it was in pretty much anything other than a pony car, and it saves some weight. I found the 6 to be very nimble on backroads and it still offers an excellent soundtrack…although it’s obviously not the sledgehammer the LT1 V8 is.

      I love the current gen Camaro, I just wish it wasn’t so ludicrously compromised. The trunk opening is so small you can’t fit anything bigger than small carry ons through it, you can’t see a damn thing out of it, the back seats are useless, and it has an econobox quality interior until you upgrade to the nicer packages, which are pricey. I could never daily one.

      But as a pure fun/driver’s/track car? It’s one of the best out there, and the LT1 trim is a screaming deal. If you can put up with the drab interior you can get the V8 with a Tremec 6 speed, front Brembos, and some handling goodies for around 35 grand…not to mention it doesn’t get the exterior upgrades the SS gets so it’s a major sleeper.

    2. Obviously just my opinion, but I think the CTR is much less boy racer than a Camaro.

      The Camaro (to me) says, “I’m 18 years old, just enlisted in the army, and put 95% of my paycheck into the completely insane car payment I’m making on this car.”

      1. The low production numbers have really kept most of the 1LE’s away from the people you have described. Most of them are completely happy with a regular SS with some tribal graphics or American Flag banner on the back window.

  9. Honestly, the only one of those that I’d take over a CTR is the GR Corolla. But that doesn’t really matter, because it’ll be impossible to find either one of them anywhere near MSRP.

    When I bought my 4Runner a few months ago, I asked my sales guy about ordering a GR Corolla. He basically said “I think we have one allocation right now, and it’s already been promised to a friend of the owner.”

    Then what happens? Toyota, Honda, et al, they all say “look! we gave you affordable performance cars with manual transmissions, but none of you bought them, so there’s clearly no demand. Here, have a hybrid crossover with a CVT.”

    I REALLY wish the manufacturers had more control over their dealer networks.

  10. Thank you for bringing this up. So much of the internet is like ZOMG CIVIC TYPE R THE KING IS BACK and I’m just like y’all….look at that price. $44,000 for a damn Civic. A casual $6,000 or so price hike. I’ve given Toyota some crap for their approach to performance cars being a bit of a cynical cash grab at times, but this takes the damn cake…not to mention Honda dealerships will easily charge 10k over sticker, and they’ll get it too.

    Honda is basically saying “whatever, idiot, we know you’ll pay it”. And honestly, I hope they’re wrong. 44 grand is ludicrous when compared to the cars you brought up…but the Ns and the GR Corolla in particular drive a hard bargain when 33-38k or so can get you an N in one of 3 body styles or a GRC with the LSDs. Plus, with the GRC or Golf R you get all wheel drive for Pete’s sake.

    Here are some others cars at roughly the same price that I thought of when I came across the price of the CTR:

    1). A base spec M240i

    2). A Supra 2.0

    3). A base spec S3

    4). A decent C7 Corvette

    5). A Mustang GT with the track goody package

    6). A Scat Pack Challenger/Charger

    I could keep going. $44,000 for one of these is ludicrous, and with how greedy Honda and VW have gotten with their pricing of these cars I feel like they’re no longer true to the hot hatch ethos. These cars are supposed to be fun and relatively affordable. I’m sorry, but 45 grand isn’t affordable, and inflation isn’t a valid excuse to raise prices on these cars 15% after redesign. It’s greed and it’s exploitative.

    1. $50k markups were not unheard of when the CTR came to the states. Factoring in what the markup will undoubtedly be when this new generation comes around, I’m sure any car you listed could be had for a substantial savings.

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