Skip to main content

Loved by drivers and critics alike, the new Honda Civic Type-R is one of the best compact sports cars available today. But what if you can’t find one, or you’re unwilling to pay some of the outrageous markups we’ve seen on the new hot Honda? Here are three alternatives to the Honda Civic Type-R that will give you just as much fun for the money.

2023 Honda Civic Type R2023 Hyundai Elantra N2023 VW Golf R2016-2020 BMW M235i Coupe
0-604.9 s5.1 s3.9 s4.8 s

The Hyundai Elantra N is the best Honda Civic Type R alternative

The Hyundai Elantra N in powder blue, leaning into a corner on a race track
Hyundai Elantra N | Hyundai USA

The Hyundai Elantra N is a relative newcomer to the compact sports car space. That said, it follows up the much-loved Veloster N as a sedan version of the departing hot hatch. A 2.0-liter turbocharged engine sets ahead of you, providing 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque through the front-wheel drive. 

Clever differential technology reduces on-power understeer to keep the Elantra N pointed in the right direction on corner exit. And with a built-in chassis brace and an aggressive suspension setup, it’s a riot in the corners. 

While the N sport exhaust has gotten it some negative attention, it ups the fun factor of this compact car when you get the settings just right. Lift off the throttle and a subtle pop and crackle emanate from the tailpipe. It’s more refined than aftermarket burble tunes and comes with a genuine sense of performance beyond the noise.

A starting price of $32,900 makes the Elantra N a bargain as well. Priced $10k below the Civic Type-R, it delivers similar performance and more on-road comfort daily driving.

One negative when comparing the Elantra N to the spicy Civic is the styling. There is no doubt that the Type-R is a better-looking machine. We also prefer the seats and shifter feel in the Civic Type-R, but we’re not sure those points make up for the price difference.

Volkswagen Golf R is the all-wheel drive Civic Type R alternative

The newest VW Golf R in blue
VW Golf R | VW Group

Are you really surprised? When on the hunt for sporty daily drivers, the Golf GTI and Golf R show up everywhere. In this case, the Golf R is competitive with the Civic Type-R on price while offering more refinement and capability. With the Volkswagen, you get all-wheel drive, 21 cubic feet of rear cargo area, and a touch more power than the Civic Type-R. You also get tight handling, near-infinite tunability, and a cabin packed with luxurious touches.

While the Type-R is more visceral than the Golf, the all-wheel drive hot hatch delivers a more premium experience for the $40,000 price tag. The all-wheel drive with 4Motion technology includes a drift mode that the Civic Type-R can’t match. And while it’s not likely you’ll see many Civics on your next ski vacation, the all-wheel drive Golf R is ready for that snowy trek like few other performance cars.

The interior of a new VW Golf R
The VW Golf R with haptic controls | VW Group

On the other hand, the Golf R is more restrained than the Civic Type R. Plus, the infotainment and haptic controls in the MK8 Golf lineup are infamously infuriating. Finally, the Civic is likely easier to use, but the Golf R delivers more for similar money.

Pre-Owned BMW M235i is an affordable rear-wheel drive sports car

A red BMW M235i on a twisty mountain road
The 2017 BMW M235i | BMW Group

If buying new isn’t a requirement, looking back just a few years can get you into an exhilarating luxury sports coupe. Current pricing for used BMW M235i models ranges from $27,000 to $35,000. For that cash, you get a turbocharged six-cylinder engine churning out 320 horsepower. Even better, you’ll get rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox for a true sports car experience. According to Autoblog, trunk space tips toward the Civic Type R, but you’ll still get nearly 14 cubic feet of cargo area in the Bavarian coupe.

Stand out with one of these Honda Civic Type R alternatives

Skip the wait and the dealer markup on a Civic Type R and choose one of these alternatives instead. Fun, functional speed is getting harder to come by, but there are still great options out there. And for equal or less money than the Type R, they deliver just as much fun every day.

Related 3 Cheaper Alternatives to Buying a 2023 Honda Civic Type R

3 Cheaper Alternatives to Buying a 2023 Honda Civic Type R