We’ve analyzed many different cars on this blog to see if they are sports cars or not.
Today, we will look at all the different versions of the Honda Civic to see if this car should be considered a sports car. While Honda Civics are known for reliability more than anything else, Honda has been putting some surprisingly sleek Civics over the last few years.
But let’s start with a quick answer as to whether or not you can consider the Civic a sports car:
The Honda Civic sedan and hatchback are not sports cars because most aren’t powerful, and their design doesn’t fit the sports car criteria. The Civic coupe can be considered a sports car if it has an engine that produces more than 200 horsepower. The Civic Type-R is always a sports car because it has a power-to-weight ratio of 0.07+, 2-doors, and an aerodynamic styling.
However, that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Below we’ll first dive into the power-to-weight ratio of the sedan, hatchback, coupe, and Type-R to see if this matches with other sports cars. Furthermore, we’ll see if the design of these cars fits the sports car category. Finally, we’ll discuss the interesting drive system of the Civic, and we’ll discuss whether or not the car is considered to be a sports car for insurance purposes. Read on!
First of all, let’s start with the Honda Civic’s engine and how much the car weighs. The reason for this is that there are a lot of different Honda Civics. There’s a sedan, hatchback, coupe, and type-R.
Just looking at the engine won’t give us enough information. This is because sports cars don’t have an official requirement when it comes to the engine. A 1.5L I4 that runs great on 87 octane, like the Honda Civic, can still be a sports car, but it totally depends on how much weight it has to carry and, therefore, how powerful it really is.
Therefore, we’ve decided to compare the Civics in terms of power-to-weight ratio. In an earlier article in which we looked at the Dodge Dart and whether or not this is a sports car or not, we found that sports cars generally have a power-to-weight ratio of 0.07 and above.
Let’s see how the Civic matches up but if you’re not entirely sure what to make of the power-to-weight ratio (and why it’s so darn important) this video does a great job explaining:
- 2000 – 2003: 1.4L I4, 1.5L I4, 1.6L I4, 1.7L I4
- 2003 – 2005: 1.3L I4, 1.5L I4, 1.7L I4
- 2006 – 2008: 1.3L I4, 1.6L I4, 1.8L I4
- 2008 – 2012: 1.3L I4, 1.8L I4
- 2012 – 2016: 1.8L I4, 2.4L I4
- 2016 – present: 1.5L I4, 2.0L I4
The Civic sedan has had multiple different engines in its lifetime. Horsepower ranges from 83 – 205, whereas most of them end up somewhere in the 140 – 160 hp range. A Honda Civic Sedan normally weighs around 2,700 lbs.
With an 83 hp engine, that’s a power-to-weight ratio of 0.03, far below the threshold of 0.07. However, with a 205 hp engine, a power-to-weight ratio of 0.076 is within the sports car range. Using this as our benchmark, we would say that a Honda Civic sedan with at least 189 hp (power-to-weight of 0.07) qualifies for the sports car category in terms of engine power.
- 2001 – 2003: 1.4L I4, 1.6L I4, 1.7L I4
- 2003 – 2005: 1.4L I4, 1.6L I4, 1.7L I4, 2.0L I4
- 2005 – 2011: 1.4L I4, 1.8L I4, 2.2L I4
- 2012 – 2015: 1.4L I4, 1.6L I4, 1.8L I4, 2.2L I4
- 2015 – 2016: 1.4L I4, 1.6L I4, 1.8L I4
- 2016 – 2019: 1.0L I4, 1.5L I4
- 2019 – 2021: 1.5L I4
- 2021 – present: 1.5L I4, 2.0L I4
The hatchback version of the Civic has also had many different engines since the 2000s. The least powerful one produces 83 horsepower, whereas the most powerful one produces 180 hp. The hatchback normally weighs somewhere around 2,550 pounds.
We can keep this quite simple: only a hatchback with a 180 hp engine delivers a power-to-weight above 0.07. All the other engines don’t qualify for the sports car criteria in terms of engine power.
- 2001 – 2005: 1.7L I4
- 2005 – 2011: 1.8L I4, 2.0L I4
- 2012 – 2016: 1.8L I4, 2.4L I4
- 2016 – present: 1.5L I4, 2.0L I4
The coupe version is probably one of those cars you would think about when you put ‘Honda Civic’ and ‘sports car’ in one sentence. The car produces anywhere between 120 – 205 hp and is slightly heavier than most Civics, with an average of around 2,850 lbs.
When we consider all of these things, only the Civic coupes with an engine that produces 200 hp or more qualify for a power-to-weight of 0.07 or above, therefore, many coupes in this category don’t really seem to make it to the sports car category in this category.
- 2001 – present: 2.0L I4
Then there’s the Type-R which undoubtedly is the car that will make it into the sports car category. The car produces anywhere between 200 – 320 hp and weighs an average of 2,850 lbs. This means that all Type-R’s have a power-to-weight ratio of 0.07 and above, which means all of them have the engine power to be considered a sports car.
There are even few Type-Rs that have been souped up to have well over 320 hp and this is one of my favorite examples:
The car’s design is most likely one of the biggest differentiators between ‘normal’ cars and sports cars. The whole goal of a sports car is to make the handling very good. This way, the car can go around a track quickly and efficiently. Therefore, the design of a sports car should be aerodynamic, relatively small, and low to the ground. Also, only 2-door coupes can be considered to be true sports cars.
From this perspective, it immediately becomes clear that both the Civic sedan and Civic 5-door hatchback don’t qualify for the sports car category. A sports car generally does only have 2 doors, and both these cars have more than that. Depending on the car’s styling, we could say that we’re talking about a sporty sedan or sporty hatchback but definitely not a sports car.
Then there’s the Civic Coupe and the 3-door hatchback, which have 2-door and also have the styling to be considered aerodynamic. However, we do still feel that you need to combine this with the right engine. Therefore, in our opinion, 2-door coupes and 3-door hatchbacks with an engine with more than 200 hp are considered sports cars. Whether or not you consider less powerful Civics to be sports cars is up to you, but this is where we believe we should draw the line.
Finally, there’s the Type-R. There’s almost no discussion here with its low center of gravity, aggressive styling, and spoiler: this car looks like a sports car and is made to go around a track. Furthermore, we already established that this car has the power-to-weight ratio to compete with other sports cars.
Finally, there’s the drive system that a car uses. Traditionally it has been true that sports cars are rear-wheel drive. The reason for this is that RWD cars are generally considered more fun, and you can drift with them around a track. This is more difficult for AWD or FWD cars.
However, this is where the Civic is a bit of a strange car. This is because all Civics make use of the front-wheel drive. This leaves us with the question of whether or not Civics can be considered sports cars if the coupes and Type-Rs all use FWD.
Officially we would have to say that FWD cars are not traditional sports cars. However, if we call a car with 2-doors, aerodynamic styling, and a power-to-weight ratio of 0.07+, not a sports car, then what should we classify it as?
For this reason, many people consider the powerful coupes, and the Type-R’s one of the few front-wheel-driven sports cars on the market. Yes, it may not totally fit the description of a traditional sports car, but the Civic does deserve its place in this category because it checks all other boxes.
Is The Honda Civic Considered A Sports Car For Insurance Purposes?
Finally, there’s the question of whether or not a Honda Civic is considered a sports car for insurance purposes. Let it first be said that insurance companies don’t just classify a car as ‘sports car’ or ‘not a sports car.’ Insurance companies take into account many, many different factors to come up with the price.
Using valuepenguin.com, we found the following:
Honda Civics costs an average of $2,370 per year to insure for a 30-year old driver and $8,401 per year for an 18-year old driver. Surprisingly enough, a Honda Civic Type-R is slightly cheaper to insure at $2,345 and $8,326 per year.
However, it must be said that the Honda Civic (not the Type-R version) is already quite expensive to insure. This may be the reason why the Type-R doesn’t actually cost more. It could also be that people that own a Type-R are actually more careful with their vehicle than normal Civic drivers, which could also explain the difference in insurance rates.
We’ve written a lot about the Honda Civic and while most of what we’ve written is a bit more technical, like taking a look at the 5-lug pattern on most Civics or reviewing the most common problems reported by hybrid owners, it can be a lot of fun to tackle more creative (but still very analytical) questions like just how sporty the Civic is.
While the sedan and hatchback models prioritize reliability and daily usability, they don’t quite enter the sports car territory.
On the other hand, the Civic coupe, with an engine exceeding 200 horsepower, has sportier ambitions.
The Civic Type-R is the clear standout, meeting all the criteria for a sports car, from its power-to-weight ratio to its aerodynamic design. However, defining a ‘sports car’ goes beyond power and aesthetics; it’s also about drive dynamics and how the market and insurers perceive it.
All in all, the Civic lineup presents a diverse palette, with certain variants clearly echoing the characteristics of a sports car even if it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!