Honda Performance All-Stars: 14 of Honda’s Hottest Cars
Honda is synonymous with safe, dependable, economical, fuel-efficient automobiles. For those in the know, this Japanese auto company also has produced plenty of cars that are a riot to drive. From the NSX supercar to the cult-status appeal of the S2000 roadster and Civic Type-R, and even the subtly seductive Accord family sedan, there is no shortage of hot Hondas to choose.
For some, it’s the classic models, such as the sharp-handling CRX and sleek Prelude coupe, that remain the best of the bunch. These two can deceive you into thinking they’re simple economy cars or another mildly sporty coupe. But get either one on a twisty road or racetrack, and you’ll know why the company has such passionate clientele.
Now, we’ve cheated a little bit by adding the NSX and Integra Type R into this list. That’s because both have been commonly branded as Hondas in markets outside the U.S. So for that reason, we opted to add them here — and because they’re simply awesome to drive.
Read on to see the 14 fastest Honda cars.
14. 1988-1991 Honda CRX Si
At a glance, you might think this stubby economy car doesn’t belong here. Ask any Honda fan about the driving appeal of the CRX Si, however, and be prepared to get seriously schooled. In the 1980s, there were few cars that packed the performance punch of this little Honda hatchback. The secret was incredible handling which, even today, makes a CRX Si a veritable giant-killer in autocross events.
Available with a five-speed manual and powered by a high-revving 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with VTEC, the CRX proved big things did indeed come in small packages. Another key factor in the CRX’s performance arsenal was it was so lightweight. Tipping the scales at about 2,000 pounds, the CRX was as lithe as Mazda’s first-gen Miata roadster.
13. 1996-2001 Prelude Type SH
Punch the gas in the Prelude type SH, and you’d sprint from zero to 60 miles per hour in only 6.7 seconds. Sporting a 16-valve DOHC VTEC engine that serves up 190 horsepower, this Prelude variant could reach a top speed of 140 miles per hour, according to Motor Trend.
The Prelude Type SH was basically an augmented version of the Prelude Type S, with additional features, including an overhauled suspension for better movement down the road. The Prelude almost didn’t get any better than this. Then again, Prelude purists might argue the previous model was far more edgy in its exterior and cabin design.
12. 2006-2011 Civic Type-R
Sometimes you have to break out your passport to drive the coolest Honda cars. Although it was never sold in the U.S., the last-generation Civic Type-R could rip off a zero to 60 time in 6.6 seconds and top out at 146 miles per hour, per Car Magazine’s testing data.
Sporting a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, this variation of the Civic pushed out 198 horsepower and 143 pound-feet of torque when coupled with a six-speed manual transmission. Although we missed the party with this model, we’re thrilled Honda has decided to bring the next Civic Type-R stateside.
11. 1991-1995 Prelude Si VTEC
A time machine from the 1990s, for many Honda fans the Si VTEC was the apex of the Prelude line. Reports pegged the car’s zero to 60 time at 6.6 seconds, along with a top overall speed of 148 miles per hour.
As far as power goes, this Prelude variant produced 197 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, produced by a 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine with VTEC. It also had one of the coolest wrap-around dash displays of its era. The electro-luminescent dials gave the Prelude cabin a Star Trek Enterprise feel to it.
10. 1995-2001 Integra Type-R
Now we’re talking. The Acura/Honda Type-R is a cult classic for Honda fans. The Type-R could make the sprint from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds and reach a top overall speed of 148 miles per hour. It was very comparable to the Civic Type-R in terms of both performance and aesthetics. The basic Integra Type-R came outfitted with a 1.8-liter DOHC VTEC four-cylinder, though there were differences depending on which country the car was sold in.
9. 2017 Civic Si
The 2017 Civic Si promises to be one of the most exciting Honda cars in years — that is, until the insane Type-R variant arrives. Powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s coupled to a slick six-speed manual gearbox, this front-wheel-drive hot hatch is an absolute hoot.
Because it’s available as a coupe or sedan, there is even an element of practicality to it. A larger rear spoiler, bigger front air intakes (some are fake, but they still look pretty awesome), and cross-drilled brakes peeking out from thin-spoke alloys all conspire to make the Si stand out from the Civic range.
8. 2017 Accord EX-L V-6
The Touring model is top dog in the Accord lineup, but that’s mainly due to having every available option thrown at it. If you want performance and wish to choose yours extras — or skip them and save several grand — the Accord EX-L has the same V-6 power and starts at about $31,000.
Edmunds puts the V6 EX-L’s zero to 60 time at 6.1 seconds, which is darn peppy for a family sedan. This Accord generates 278 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, courtesy of the 3.5-liter V-6 engine. It looks like a commuter car, but this Accord sure has moves.
7. 2017 Accord EX-L Coupe
Like its sedan counterpart, the Accord Coupe in EX-L trim has the same powertrain as the range-topping Touring model. Under the hood, that iVTEC 3.5-liter V-6 absolutely purrs along, delivering its 278 horsepower to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic or, believe it or not, an available six-speed manual transmission. That’s right, you can still score a manual with the Accord Coupe’s biggest engine — a combination not available in the Accord sedan.
6. 1999 -2009 S2000
If you’ve never driven one, you might not know what all the fuss is about. The Honda S2000 looks like a funky little roadster, a hotter Honda version of the beloved Mazda Miata. It’s that — and so much more.
The early models revved like they were gunning for pole at Monaco. A red line of more than 9,000 RPM made the S2000 a scream machine, though Honda eventually lowered the revs to help boost available torque.
No matter, any S2000 is a blast, especially when the road gets curvy to can enjoy its pin-point accurate steering and rigid chassis. Its performance holds up to this day. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder propels Honda’s hot two-seater from zero to 60 in roughly 5.8 seconds.
5. 2008-2009 S2000 CR
Honda also built a performance variant of the S2000, dubbed the CR for “Club Racer.” The CR is sleeker, sexier, lighter in overall weight, and also just a tad bit faster. By Car and Driver’s testing data, the CR beat out its base model sibling just barely in the zero to 60 time, coming in at 5.7 seconds. A planned run of 1,400 of these cars were built, and the asking price was a substantial $37,000 per copy.
4. Honda Civic Type-R
The wait is almost over; the new Civic Type-R is nearly here. After years of promises (not to mention countless concept models), Honda’s pocket-rocket is officially due to arrive in the U.S. later in 2017. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, ultimate output is expected to exceed 300 horsepower.
You can bet a six-speed manual will be the transmission of choice for diehard Type-R fans, though it’s possible a rapid-fire automatic fitted with paddle shifters could end up on the options sheet at some point. One thing it won’t have is all-wheel drive. Honda is staying true to its front-wheel drive roots with the new Type-R
3. 1990- 2005 NSX
None other than Formula One legend Ayrton Senna helped tune and develop the original NSX. Need we say anything more? When the NSX hit the scene in 1990, it easily became the company’s fastest vehicle.
The NSX could rocket from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 5.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 168 miles per hour. This was despite that the NSX was powered by a 3.0-liter V-6, with a reported output of only 270 horsepower. That seems low, but the NSX was so perfectly crafted it didn’t need a monster motor to give it scintillating dynamics.
It also was reliable. The NSX, whether it was badged a Honda or as an Acura in the U.S., absolutely revolutionized the supercar world with its blend of supercar style, performance, and rock-solid dependability.
2. 2002 NSX Type-R
Take an NSX, and add a lot less to it. That’s the basic recipe behind the outrageous NSX Type-R. The Type-R could best the original NSX in the zero to 60 run by a full second. In fact, the NSX Type-R could make the haul in 4.4 seconds. To achieve weight savings of more than 200 pounds, Honda deleted sound deadening, a radio, and even air conditioning in this hardcore supercar.
For the second generation variant (pictured above), power steering also got the heave-ho to help the 3.2-liter engine make the best use of its (totally underrated) official output of 290 horsepower. For Honda lovers, this car is NSX nirvana.
1. 2017 NSX
Honda has returned to the business of building ultra-quick, enviable sports cars. The new NSX is a technical marvel, thanks to its hybrid powertrain that combines a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6, twin electric motors at the front, single electric motor at the rear, and a nine-speed semi-automatic transmission.
All together, NSX Version 2.0 puts out 573 horsepower and can hit a top speed of 191 miles per hour. It’s not nearly as simple of a design as the original NSX, but this latest variant is brutally effective and viciously quick.