2023 Honda Civic Type R vs. 2021 Subaru WRX STI: New Hatch or Classic Sedan?

Civic Type R vs. WRX STI comparison highlights:

  • The 2023 Honda Civic Type R hatchback will be all-new for this year, possibly going on sale in the fall.
  • The new Civic Type R may be more powerful than the WRX STI, but 0-60 times will likely remain equal.
  • The 2021 Subaru WRX STI sedan will likely be cheaper than the 2023 Civic Type R.

It’s a good time for the sports-car community. Honda is completely revamping the Civic Type R for the 2023 model-year, Toyota is releasing the 2023 GR Corolla, and Subaru’s WRX STI continues to be a cult classic and fan favorite. See how these high-powered compacts from Honda and Subaru stand up face-to-face.

2023 Civic Type R2022 Subaru WRX STI
Price RangeEstimated $39,000+$27,245 – $41,945
Engine OptionsTurbo four-cylinderTurbo BOXER four-cylinder
Horsepower 306+ HP (unconfirmed)310 HP
Torque295+ lb-ft (unconfirmed)290 lb-ft
TransmissionManual transmissionManual / CVT
MPG RatingN/A20 city / 27 hwy
IIHS Safety RatingN/ATop Safety Pick
NHTSA Safety RatingN/A5 stars

2023 Honda Civic Type R vs. 2021 Subaru WRX STI: differences and similarities

In the past, we’ve given reasons to buy a Honda Civic Type R over a Subaru WRX, but is Subie’s high-powered sedan a more capable competitor against Honda’s aggressive hatchback now?

Honda hasn’t yet released official specs for the 2023 Civic Type R, but Car & Driver gives some good information and estimates about the soon-to-come hot hatch. Honda hinted that the newest Type R will be more powerful than its predecessor, but we know that it will continue to run on its classic 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine. The current gen makes 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and the 2023 Type R will almost definitely see higher numbers. This hatchback is available in front-wheel drive form only. 

The Subaru WRX STI also runs on a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, and makes 310 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. This is the best we’ll see for performance numbers for the WRX STI, at least until it’s re-released in the future with some sort of electrification. This compact sports sedan is available only with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.

Which will cost more, the 2023 Civic Type R or a Subaru WRX STI?

Close view of a blue 2021 Subaru WRX STI's front grille
2021 Subaru WRX STI | Subaru

This question has a complicated answer. 2021 WRX STI trim levels cost between $27,245 – $41,945 when new, but it’s unlikely that any dealer still has new models in stock. That means you’ll likely be hunting for used WRX STI cars on the fickle pre-owned market. Good news though: we’re starting to see a drop in used-car prices.

Honda hasn’t released pricing details for the new 2023 Civic Type R, but Car & Driver estimates that the newest model will cost just under $40,000 for base models (without taxes and fees) when it’s released. 

This means you’ll most likely be able to find a Subaru WRX STI for cheaper than a 2023 Civic Type R.

The 2021 Subaru WRX STI will be the last as we know it

Back in March, Subaru killed the fifth-generation WRX STI, announcing that they would no longer be pursuing development of an internal-combustion engine model. The next time we see an all-new WRX STI, it will likely be battery-powered: some form of hybrid, or an all-electic compact sports car.

However, that makes the 2021 WRX STI even more special. This model will be the last of its kind, and represent the end of an era that shaped the history and future of affordable all-wheel-drive sports cars. Though you may only be able to find one used, the WRX STI is still a compelling choice.

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R should be the fastest yet

After 50 years of the Honda Civic, it shouldn’t be surprising that the latest Civic Type R models are incredibly fast. But, recent information suggests that the all-new 2023 Type R will be even faster than its predecessor. We don’t have official specs yet, but we have some idea of what the new model will be capable of.

Subaru WRX STI vs. Honda Civic Type R 0-60 time

The 2021 Subaru WRX STI isn’t the fastest STI car, but it is the fastest production WRX that Subaru sold. Its 0-60 time is a piping hot 5.3 seconds.

The Type R has consistently been the fastest Honda Civic, going from 0-60 in 5.0-5.3 seconds. That means that current-generation WRX STI and Type R models are evenly matched. But the all-new Type R recently broke its own Suzuka lap record, which hints at an even faster sprint time for this new hatchback.

Only the 2023 Honda Civic Type R can be bought new

Close-up view of the front of a 2023 Honda Civic Type wearing camouflage
2023 Honda Civic Type R | Honda

This is one area where the Civic Type R will have a big advantage over the WRX STI. Subaru decided not to make a 2022 model, and there likely won’t be another new STI offered for a few years. That means if you want a new sports car this year, only the 2023 Type R will be able to give you that new-car smell.

However, a 2021 Subaru WRX STI can be bought right now. The Type R will make you wait—and we still don’t know for how long.

Which fast compact sports car is the right fit for you?

There are plenty of compelling reasons to choose either of these spicy sports cars. The WRX STI is a reliable car, but Hondas are also known for their reliability and durability. Both are higher-powered than their well-known and beloved foundation models. Both are relatively affordable in the world of 300+ HP cars.

In terms of overall freshness, power, and versatility, it’s looking like the 2023 Civic Type R will pull ahead in this comparison.

But, for fun performance right now, and for the foreseeable future, the Subaru WRX STI wins. And, if Honda doesn’t squeak out at least an extra five horsepower for the redesigned Civic Type R, the WRX STI will still be more powerful, more affordable, and just as fast. And, with the convenience and capability of all-wheel drive.

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