Everyone on this pitch is a winner regardless of the outcome, much like a soccer league consisting of six-year-olds. The 2023 Honda Civic Type R and the 2024 Acura Integra Type S are both fantastic front-drive performance cars, which makes sense given that the Venn diagram comparing the two models is nearly a single circle.
Yet there are no connections in love and battle; one of these fraternal twins must eventually stand over the other.
The original Civic Type R sits in one corner. While the Civic’s looks aren’t as aggressive as in its original US-bound edition, the 315-hp turbo four and standard adaptive suspension are ready to take on any twist.
If you want a little more livability, the Integra Type S is a more upscale option with some popular creature amenities and a little more power. Let us see if it is sufficient to make a difference.
2024 Acura Integra Type S
Positioning the Integra Type S second was not a simple choice, but we had our reasons. With its semi-stratospheric window sticker, there’s no doubt that the Integra is the more habitable hot hatch.
Its inside materials are a little nicer, with red leather accents contrasting nicely with the seats’ microfiber. Some extras, like an ELS audio system, heated seats, and parking sensors, make daily driving more bearable.
Nonetheless, the cabin has certain drawbacks. The Acura’s back end is a little more rakish than the Honda’s, which means less rear headroom and inferior rear vision.
The Integra (3212 pounds) is somewhat heavier than the Honda (3183 pounds), but the 29-pound difference should be offset by the Type S’s five greater horsepower, right?
The pattern continued in the quarter-mile when the Acura took silver with a 13.7-second, 105-mph run. Passing power was also lacking, with the Type S taking 10.7 seconds to accelerate from 30 to 50 mph and 6.9 seconds from 50 to 70 mph.
One success for Acura came in fuel economy: in 200 miles of 75-mph driving, the Type S achieved 31 mpg, winning a one-mpg victory.
The free-flowing exhaust produced a burblier, cracklier note with the odd overrun that virtually every driver liked over the Honda’s more subdued, global-market-friendly tone.
However, the additional sound-deadening material in the floor and firewall effectively canceled out that increased vigor; we hauled out the microphones and recorded an equal 73 decibels at 70 mph in both cars. At idle, the Integra and Civic are only a single decibel apart.
The majority of us favored the Acura’s looks. While Acura avoided a huge wing in favor of a more discreet lip spoiler, the appliqué-style fender flares and aggressively designed front fascia take up some of the ferocity the 10th-generation Civic lost in the transition to the 11th.
Nevertheless, with a starting price of $51,995 vs. $44,890 for the Honda, the Acura levies a $7105 premium that’s difficult to stomach.
As enthusiastic as everyone was about the first boosted Integra in decades, practically every item in the logbook highlighted how five horsepower and a few creature-comfort modifications did not justify the price difference.
2023 Honda Civic Type R
As nice as we believe the Integra Type S is, we believe the Civic Type R is somewhat superior. The Civic may lack horsepower, have a big ol’ wing in the rear, and leave our tuchus a little chillier in winter, but a large value play plus a little on-paper domination give it the crown.
Let’s start with the subjective points. The Civic Type R’s back half is somewhat higher, providing greater rear headroom and more useable rear glass. Like its predecessor’s, the new Type R’s wing is tall enough to keep the driver’s rearview clear.
The bright-red fabric front seats aren’t only a messy vampire’s dream; they’re also significantly better at keeping a driver in position during furious movements. We like Integra’s shift knob since the Honda’s all-metal contraption can become hot on a hot summer day.
While no one favored the Civic’s less dramatic exhaust tone, many preferred the Type R’s instrument cluster, including a sleek S2000-style tachometer in +R mode. When you put the Integra into sport mode, the needles turn yellow.
Most drivers didn’t mind the marginally firmer Comfort setting because the Type R label is about performance. Moreover, anybody can purchase Integra’s suspension control module and switch it in for extra softness if desired.
Regardless of which is more comfortable, both cars held 1.02 g’s on our 300-foot skidpad when pushed to their maximum. The cars have roughly identical braking power, requiring 153 feet to stop from 70 mph.
Slamming on the center pedal at 100 mph brought the Type R to a halt in 308 feet, only a rounding error slower than the Type S’s 305-foot effort.
Despite its little power disadvantage, the Civic’s marginally peppier throttle response gave it the advantage throughout our tests. It’s two-tenths a second faster to 60 mph than the Integra, a disparity that continues through the quarter-mile when the Civic ran 13.5 seconds at 106 mph.
Nonetheless, the Civic was the clear winner in passing, taking only 9.4 seconds to accelerate from 30 to 50 mph, beating the Integra’s 10.7-second time. The Civic earned 30 mpg in our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, close behind the Integra but 2 mpg better than the EPA highway estimate.
That’s all there is to it. Regarding front-wheel-drive performance cars, the Integra Type S is an exceptionally attractive alternative thanks to an extra dash of power and a few more points in livability.
But we don’t think those features make it superior to the Honda Civic Type R, especially because the Honda has a modest performance advantage and a significant value advantage.