Honda Civic Type R: Best Sports Car To Buy 2021

January 4, 2021

Buying a car isn't all about responsibility and practicality. Fun can enter into the equation, and we think it often should.

A good sports car can provide an escape, deliver a thrill, and help heal the soul. If bought right, it can also be practical for everyday needs.

The Car Connection's Best Sports Car To Buy 2021 ticks all the boxes with a raucous extroverted personality, road feel that tells you what it's doing, and a utilitarian hatchback body style.

The 2021 Honda Civic Type R is a fun little grocery getter that works as a sports car and a daily driver.

The Civic Type R is our highest scoring affordable performance car with a TCC Rating of 6.7 out of 10, matched only by the Hyundai Veloster N, which we also highly recommend. Both are performance bargains, but the Type R gets the nod here because it's the car our editors would rather drive, albeit by a slim margin.

Starting at $38,450, the Civic Type R's price tag roughly matches the transaction price of today's average car, so it doesn't break the bank.

2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

For that money, buyers get a pocket rocket motivated by a 306-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4 that launches the car from 0-60 mph in the low five-second range while delivering a very reasonable 25 mpg combined. All that power flows to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission that is a joy to operate. Torque steer isn't a problem, but hanging on for dear life as the Type R hunts apexes is exactly the type of challenge we love around here.

The 245/30R 20 Continental ContiSportContact 6 tires bite the pavement to the tune of 1.02 Gs of lateral grip. That's Corvette territory and it gives the lightweight Civic high-speed traction to go with its waterbug agility.

2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

We view the downside as an upside. With only front-wheel drive, the front tires have to turn, stop, and accelerate the car. That's asking them to do a lot and it can lead to understeer on a racetrack. However, it also provides an opportunity for the driver to master balancing those demands to achieve the quickest laps. It demands skill and it makes you a better driver for it. "The Type R doesn’t like ham fists and ham feet, but there’s not much else it doesn’t like about going fast," said Editorial Director Marty Padgett in his first drive review when the car debuted for the 2017 model year

Honda gave the Type R a tad more civility for the 2020 model year, with softer dampers, better cooling, and an onboard telemetry system to record your driving performance. Those changes only made a great car better, and they continue with the current model.

A new Civic is due for the 2022 model year and a Civic Type R is planned along with it. Keeping the current car's winning high-horsepower, front-drive, hatchback formula on perhaps a stiffer structure will make the next Type R a contender for this award for years to come.

Read all about the winners of The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2021 awards—and find out which vehicles took home our annual Driver’s Choice awards as well as top honors from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports  

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2021
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