The Best of Japan? Toyota Supra vs. Honda Civic Type R vs. Acura NSX

We all know what the Toyota Supra vs Acura NSX vs Honda Civic Type R would look like on paper. The Acura NSX is ridiculously quick, the Toyota Supra is extremely quick and the Civic Type R is damn quick. Meaning, the Civic is slowest, the Supra is in the middle and the NSX is fastest.

Still, there’s more to it than that. Way more.

Each vehicle is completely unique from the next. Providing different overall driving characteristics and completely different personalities. Just because a car is fast, doesn’t mean it’s fun. You might be surprised as to which is the most rewarding.

This is how they stack up.

[Photo: Nathan Leach-Proffer]

Acura NSX: Not only is the Acura NSX a marvel of science, it’s a joy to drive. It feels natural to drive, especially when it’s pushed. I’ve driven the NSX in many conditions on several roads. Despite having three electric motors and more computing power than NORAD, it feels almost organic.

It’s combined power equals 573 horsepower. That’s three electric motors (two feeding the front wheels, one for the rear) connected to a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6. The nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is the only transmission available.

The NSX screams when abused, but for all the right reasons.It sounds amazing too. You would be hard pressed to feel it when the electric power assists forward progress. It’s seamless. The NSX corners and rides similar to an Audi R8, but it feels lower and it’s harder to see out of.

As enjoyable as it was to drive in the wet AND dry, there’s nothing more rewarding than pushing it through a corner and stabbing the accelerator. The sound mixed with high G cornering is addictive.

All in all, the Acura NSX is a supercar for high-end sports car money. It’s a marvel, but it’s not for everyone.

[Photo: Nathan Leach-Proffer]

Toyota Supra: The Supra delighted and disappointed. In terms of driving, it was outstanding. The rear end is one of the most planted I have ever encountered and the engine performance is near-supercar-level. It was a hoot. Given its impossible-to-see-out-of roof design, I was not very comfortable.

The Supra has a BMW-based, turbocharged, 335 hp 3.0-liter, inline six cylinder that makes 365 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available is an 8-speed automatic. While this is the same basic setup (and platform) as the BMW Z4, the Toyota Supra is a completely different animal.

Handling is remarkably tight and the gear select in performance mode is intuitive. Dropping a gear as you power out of a corner is done with precision, and rear-end adhesion is the stuff of legends. It’s an amazing driver.

The engine crackles, snarls and screams – like a proper sports car.

I’m a big guy and, while I had good legroom, headroom was at a premium. I had a difficult time seeing out of the sides of the vehicle too. Still, despite my past issues a of parts-sharing conspiracy; I adore the way it handles and sounds.

[Photo: Nathan Leach-Proffer]

Honda Civic Type R: Three things I don’t like about the Honda Civic Type R:

  • 1. The tight bucket seats
  • 2. The ridiculous wings and fins,
  • 3. Room for only two in the back seat (some bizarre cupholder takes away from the center seat).

Things I love about the Honda Civic Type R: everything else.

The Honda Civic Type R has a turbocharged 306 hp engine that makes 295 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available is a sweet-shifting six-speed manual. While it is a front-wheel drive car, torque steer has been addressed thanks to the Helical limited-slip front differential.

It is a remarkable driver and, provided you’re comfortable in the driver’s seat, it’s everyday practical. I cannot think of another front-wheel drive hot hatch that is THIS good in the corners. Not the Ford Focus ST, not the VW GTI not even the mighty Hyundai Veloster N.

Rocky Mountain Redline orchestrated a driving event called Redline Rally. This event allowed journalists to drive cars like these through some of the most scenic back roads and highways in Colorado. It was an amazing event, one that allowed me to drive these cars, the Toyota Supra vs Acura NSX vs Honda Civic Type R – back to back to back.

Each was awesome, but in the end – I truly think the Honda Civic Type-R was the most fun.