Ford Mustang Mach 1 vs. Honda Civic Type R LE: Is RWD Faster Than FWD?

The 2022 Type R is on the horizon, but the current-gen Honda hot hatch still has plenty of performance to offer. Especially in the form of the track-focused Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition. However, for some, RWD, not FWD, is the way to go. And there’s now a new Mustang trim for track enthusiasts: the Ford Mustang Mach 1. So, which is faster? YouTube team Throttle House took both to the racetrack to figure that out.

It’s not quite a Shelby GT350, but the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is a true track-ready muscle car

A blue 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 parked by a racetrack garage
2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 | Ford

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 takes the spot previously occupied by the Bullitt and Shelby GT350 models. Or rather, mid-way between them. And it does so by combining parts from both, plus a few GT Performance Pack 2 and Shelby GT500 features.

For example, the Ford Mustang Mach 1 has the same version of the 5.0-liter V8 as the Bullitt. That means 480 hp and 420 lb-ft sent to the rear wheels via a standard six-speed manual. However, instead of the Bullit’s manual, the Mach 1 has the GT350’s transmission. But if you don’t want the stick, unlike the Bullitt, the Mustang Mach 1 offers an optional 10-speed automatic.

The performance features, though, don’t stop at the engine. Because the Ford Mustang Mach 1 is based on a GT with the Performance Pack 1, it has the same features, MotorTrend explains. That means Brembo front brakes, stiffer suspension and sway bars, extra chassis bracing, a larger radiator, and a limited-slip differential. Not to mention model-specific tuning for the steering and the traction and stability control.

Adaptive magnetorheological dampers are standard on the Mach 1, while Recaro seats are optional. And from the PP2, the Mach 1 gets Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires and an upgraded brake booster, Roadshow reports.

The side 3/4 view of a gray-black-and-orange 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 with the Handling Package by a racetrack garage
2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 with Handling Package side 3/4 | Ford

Besides a shifter, the Mach 1 gets an engine oil cooler, transmission cooler, throttle body, and intake manifold from the GT350, Car and Driver reports. The Mach 1 also shares several rear suspension components with the GT350 and GT500 as well as a differential cooler.

And if that’s still not enough, the Mach 1 has an optional Handling Package. This swaps out the standard wheels for lighter cast-aluminum ones with grippier Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. The package also adds a front splitter, adjustable top strut mounts, recalibrated dampers, and the Gurney-flap-equipped rear spoiler from the GT500, Car and Driver reports.

The 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition makes “the best front-driving car on the market…even better,” MotorTrend says

A yellow 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition
2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition | Honda

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Lighter-than-stock wheels are a feature the Mach 1 and the 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition share. And just like the Handling Package-equipped Mustang, the Type R LE rides on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s. But there’s more to the Civic Type R Limited Edition than just that.

Or, rather, there’s less; less weight, that is. In addition to the lighter wheels and tires, the Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition lacks rear heater ducts, a rear wiper, and a rear cargo cover. And it has less sound insulation than the standard car. As a result, the Type R LE is 50 pounds lighter than the ‘base’ Type R, MT reports. And to take advantage of the lower unsprung weight, Honda retuned the hot hatch’s steering and adaptive dampers, Car and Driver notes.

Besides the weight-stripping measures and damper upgrades, the 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition packs the standard CTR features. That means Brembo brakes, an LSD, that rear spoiler, vortex generators, and a six-speed manual. And it has the same 306-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Which is faster?

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On paper, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is faster in a straight line than the Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition. Despite the weight reduction, the Type R LE is slower to 60 mph than the standard car. In MT’s hands, the former did it in 5.3 seconds, 0.3 seconds slower than the latter. Meanwhile, Car and Driver recorded a 4.8-second 0-60 mph time with a manual Mach 1.

The Mustang Mach 1 maintains its speed advantage in the ¼-mile. The Civic Type R Limited Edition needs 13.7 seconds to run it, MT reports, the same as the standard car. Though admittedly, its 107.8-mph trap speed is 1.9 mph faster than the base Type R’s speed. However, Car and Driver recorded a 12.6-second ¼-mile run with the Mach 1 and a 115-mph trap speed.

Still, straight-line performance is only one aspect of racetrack capability. So, how did the hot hatch and the muscle car do on the Throttle House track?

Which is faster on the Throttle House track: the Ford Mustang Mach 1 or the Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition?

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Unfortunately, Throttle House wasn’t allowed to take the Ford Mustang Mach 1 on the track. Or do any kind of “performance driving whatsoever,” co-host Thomas said. As a result, the Mach 1 couldn’t set a lap time.

The Civic Type R Limited Edition, though, did. And while it was faster than the standard car, the difference was only 0.13 seconds. That’s a noticeably different result than MT saw at the Streets of Willow Springs, where the LE was almost a second faster. But MT did note the Type R LE understeered more than the standard car, something Throttle House also noticed. That might be due to the grippier tires and stiffer suspension disturbing the balance the standard car has.

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So, which one is faster? Officially, it’s still unclear. However, it’s worth noting that Throttle House’s lap time with a Mustang GT PP1 was only 0.5 seconds behind the Type R LE. Considering the Mach 1 is sharper and more powerful, theoretically, it could be just as fast or faster than the Type R LE.

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