The ‘Type R’ moniker is very special to Honda and its fans, and the latest Civic Type R lives up to that heritage. However, it’s not the only iconic Japanese nameplate available in the US. The reborn Toyota Supra, like the Civic Type R, got a recent update and a new four-cylinder Supra 2.0 model. So naturally, Motor Trend decided to pit these 2 remastered performance cars against each other.
How do the 2020 Honda Civic Type R and 2021 Toyota Supra 2.0 compare on paper?
The biggest difference between the 2020 Honda Civic Type R and the 2020 Toyota Supra 2.0 is their drive type. The Honda is a front-wheel-drive hot hatch, while the Supra 2.0 is a rear-wheel-drive coupe.
Their engines, though, are somewhat similar. The Civic Type R has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 306 hp and 295 lb-ft. The Supra 2.0 also has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which also makes 295 lb-ft, but only 255 hp. However, the Supra is slightly quicker to 60. The Civic Type R goes 0-60 in 5.1 seconds, Motor Trend reports, while the Toyota does it in 4.7 seconds, Car and Driver reports.
Both cars have limited-slip differentials, but both the Toyota Supra 2.0 and six-cylinder 3.0 have 8-speed automatics. Meanwhile, the Honda Civic Type R comes exclusively with a 6-speed manual with automatic downshift rev-matching. And, for 2020, it has a new shifter knob and counterweight, Car and Driver reports.
While the Toyota Supra 2.0 is cheaper than the 3.0, it also lacks some of the six-cylinder model’s features, Automobile reports. It doesn’t have adaptive suspension, and its limited-slip differential is passive, rather than active. Plus, its brakes are smaller and its power steering is tuned differently.
The Honda CTR, though, has adaptive suspension, which has been updated for 2020, MT reports. The hot hatch also has retuned bushings and ball joints as well as lighter brake rotors. And to combat overheating issues, it has a larger grille and an upgraded radiator. Plus, unlike the Honda, the Supra 2.0 doesn’t have standard navigation or Android Auto and has fewer ADAS features.
For Motor Trend, Honda Civic Type R vs. Toyota Supra 2.0 “ain’t [sic] even close”
The 2020 Honda Civic Type R has already beaten several of its hot hatch rivals, such as the Mini GP and Veloster N, in Motor Trend’s comparison test.
It also beat the turbocharged four-cylinder Ford Mustang EcoBoost in that same test. Having driven the CTR myself, I can confirm that it throws every preconceived notion about FWD out the window. It suffers few if any of the drawbacks MT reports about FWD vehicles. And it’s a genuinely special vehicle to drive.
The 2021 Toyota Supra 2.0 isn’t exactly a performance slouch, considering it can out-accelerate the Civic in a straight line. However, unlike the Honda, it lost to the Mustang EcoBoost in MT’s testing. And to quote MT, the 2021 Supra 2.0 “ain’t [sic] even close” to the CTR.
Not only does the Honda have more standard features than the Supra, it drives, handles, and stops better. The 2020 CTR never overheated in MT’s testing, though ironically, the first Toyota tested did. And while the Supra 2.0’s brakes performed better than expected, they fade more under continual use.
For how thin its sidewalls are, you’d think the Civic Type R doesn’t ride well—but it does. And it both corners and rides better than the Toyota Supra 2.0. Its rear suspension bounces heavily over imperfect road surfaces. It still grips well, but the Honda’s suspension is “fundamentally better.”
Plus, while the Toyota’s automatic transmission is quick, the CTR’s manual is sheer mechanical joy to shift. According to MT, “[o]nly Porsche makes a manual gearbox as good.” That’s also how MT’s editor Christian Seabaugh describes the CTR: “If Porsche made front-drive cars, this is what they’d drive like.”
Which of these Japanese performance cars should you buy?
Typically, comparison tests like this end in nuanced discussions. One car may do one thing better, but the other car does something else better. However, in this case, MT is quite decisive.
True, the 2021 Toyota Supra 2.0 delivers RWD fun. But the 2020 Honda Civic Type R is simply the better all-around performance car. It’s also about $6000 cheaper, seats 2 more people, and has more features. In the case of turbocharged four-cylinder Japanese performance cars, it’s FWD FTW.
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