Is Honda Civic a Sports Car?

Honda Civic is one of the few cars that are difficult to classify. Is it a compact car with efficient fuel economy, or is it a compact capable of being called a sports car? The answer depends on the type of Honda Civic you are talking about.

Compared to real sports cars like the Mazda Miata or Ferraris, you realize the Honda Civic isn’t a sports car. The Honda Civic is a compact or economy car with the highest variant being the Type R, which sports a 306hp engine. However, a real supercar offers luxury trims, powerful engines, smooth handling, a better suspension and many more.

Here, we consider factors that make an ideal sports car and why the Honda Civic isn’t one. Furthermore, we examine if the car manufacturer, Honda has a sports car under its badge. 

Factors That Make a Car a Sports Car

When sports cars first came around in the early twentieth century, they were easy to identify. They were usually small two-seater cars with powerful engines. Now, as cars evolve, many characteristics differentiate a normal car and a sports car.

For example, it was a given that sports cars had to come with manual transmissions. In recent times, you find Ferraris that have automatic transmissions. 

However, there are still some factors that all sports cars should have. We use these standards to determine if the Honda Civic is a sports car.

Powerful Engine

One of the primary adjectives associated with sports cars is fast. Most sports cars have powerful engines to propel them at high speeds. Mazda Miata, for instance, has an engine that accelerates from 0-60mph in just 5.7 seconds. Several vehicles accelerate even faster. By comparison, the Civic engine (not the Type R) goes from 0-60 in 8.2 seconds. 

The base Civic engine generates 151hp, not much when compared to 181hp Miata’s engine. The huge difference in engine power becomes even more apparent when you consider that Mazda Miata has one of the least powerful engines in its class.

Even the 2021 Touring trim of the Civic (which is its highest trim) has an engine that produces 174hp of power. This means the highest trim of the Honda Civic does not compare to that of the Miata. The absence of a powerful engine means that the Honda Civic does not qualify as a real supercar.

Good Handling and Cornering

The ability of a sports car to navigate bends and curves while at high speeds is essential. Even in cases of oversteer (when the rear tires drift when you take a curve at high speeds), you are certain that the car is under your control.

Drivers have to be confident that they control the car, no matter the pace, especially when turning. For this reason, sports cars manufacturers ensure that their powerful engines are coupled with great steering and safety software.

When you compare the responsiveness of Mazda Miata’s handling to Honda Civic’s, you find a world of difference. Miata’s steering seems intuitive and very easy to control. This ease of control gives the driver confidence when driving fast and when taking corners. The Civic does not offer this. 


Sports cars need the best suspensions to give them greater control on the road. Miata, for example, uses a standard sports suspension (also known as double wishbone), while the Civic employs the MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension.

A major difference between these two suspensions is their location. MacPherson is located at the front of a car, while the sports suspension is at the rear. Also, because the Macpherson increases the height of cars, it’s unsuitable for sports cars.

The double-wishbone offers greater stability for cars than the Macpherson struts, which is why it is used by most sports cars. It also aids easier car handling, something essential in sports cars. The absence of these types of suspensions in a Honda Civic counts against it when it comes to classification as a sports car.

Low Center of Gravity

A car’s center of gravity is the point where all the weight of the car’s components appears to act. The lower a car’s center of gravity, the more stable it is. Especially when cornering at high speeds. This need for stability is why many sports cars have relatively low centers of gravity compared to normal cars.

Miata’s center of gravity is about 18.5 inches, which is quite low. It gives the driver a sense of balance when zipping on the road. This balance allows the car to go faster. On the other hand, Civic has an estimated center of gravity of twenty inches.

Civic’s center of gravity is low, but it isn’t as low as what is available in sports cars. For example, the Subaru BRZ has a center of gravity of 18.1 inches, even lower than the Miata. A sports car’s center of gravity works together with its handling and lower suspension to create a car that combines speed with absolute control.


Another thing that stands sports cars out is their relative lightweight. The lighter a car, the less energy it needs to accelerate from its resting position. A car’s weight also affects how resistance it encounters when it is moving. So the lighter the car, the faster it will accelerate, and the lower the effect of resistance on it.

Another thing to consider apart from the weight of a car is its weight distribution.  If a car is heavier at the rear than at the front, it handles better roads. With an ability to handle corners better and brake harder. So for a sports car, it has to have a relatively low weight and an equal weight distribution.

Mazda Miata has a curb weight of 2,403 pounds, more than 300 pounds lighter than the Civic (2,771 pounds). It also has an approximate weight distribution of 50/50. Honda Civic weight is distributed in front in a ratio of about 60/40.

Heavier weight and a forward weight distribution mean Honda Civic can’t accelerate as fast as sports cars. Therefore, Honda Civic is not a sports car.

Aerodynamic Design

Most cars are designed with curves and sharp edges not only because it makes them beautiful. Another reason is that this design reduces drag when they are in motion. The lower the drag coefficient of a car, the more aerodynamic its design.

Mazda Miata, the sports car we have been using for comparison from the start, has a drag coefficient of 0.36. Honda Civic slightly beats Miata in this regard with a drag coefficient of 0.33.

Does this mean Civic is a sports car? No, it means that Civic has an aerodynamic design that reduces air drag, but it lacks other metrics to call the Civic a sports car.

Engine Layout and Drivetrain

We should state here that evolution has made it that the engine’s position and the type of drivetrain isn’t a determinant. Most sports cars come with a rear-wheel-drive drivetrain and its engines mounted in front of the middle. The reason for this combination is to improve the car’s handling.

An example of a sports car with a front-mounted engine and RWD drivetrain is Mazda Miata. You might wonder why the MX-5 or Miata has been used as an example throughout this piece. It’s because Miata is the bestselling sports car out there, so it’s the best car to use for comparison.

Recently, sports cars have implemented an all-wheel-drive drivetrain to aid handling and all-weather driving. The Bugatti Veyron is a great example of a sports car with an AWD drivetrain. 

Using this information to compare with Honda Civic, its drivetrain is a front-wheel drivetrain and a front-mounted engine. Again, this doesn’t matter. There are fast cars with FWD drivetrain, but Honda Civic isn’t one of them.

Does Honda Have a Sports Car?

Honda has various sports cars under production, from its iconic Honda S800 to the Honda NSX. Here are a few Honda sports cars.

  • Honda Civic Type R FK8

The car was introduced in 2017. It’s one of the fastest FWD cars out there. The FK8 comes with a VTEC TURBO engine that produces 316hp and does 0-60 in just 5.7 seconds. Honda Civic Type R peaks at 165mph, making it a true sports car.

  • Honda NSX

Also known as Acura NSX, the NSX is a true supercar. With leading technological innovations like the Sport Hybrid All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) drivetrain to give superior handling. Its electric-powered motors are paired with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces a mind-numbing 573hp and 476lbft of torque.

  • Honda S2000 Club Racer

Honda Club Racer is a speedy roadster introduced in 2007. Honda made only 699 of these cars before they were discontinued making them a collector’s item.


When you consider various parameters like engine power, suspension, handling, and weight, it becomes clear the Honda Civic sports car isn’t words to be used together. The fact it isn’t a sports car doesn’t mean the Civic is a bad car. Its performance parameters aren’t up to that of an ideal sports car.

The only time Honda Civic comes into the conversation of sports cars is when you talk about the stand-alone Civic Type R, which isn’t the same as the normal Civic.

Related: Why is Honda NSX so expensive?

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