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The Honda Civic Type R Is Just A Teenage Dirtbag, Baby

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If you want a two-liter Honda with a turbo, a six-speed manual, and a chassis that’s an absolute riot to whip around, you have two real options: The Honda Civic Type R and the Acura Integra Type S. Deciding between them can be difficult, though. With less than $10,000 separating the two — and that’s before dealer markups — why would you opt for the more barebones Civic over the stunning display of spec-sheet-destroying perfection that is the Integra?

Well, it’s simple. You buy the Integra Type S if you want a car that’s better both objectively and subjectively, with its bevy of features and genuinely amazing character. You buy the Civic Type R if you’re just a teenage dirtbag, baby.

Full Disclosure: Honda loaned me a Civic Type R for a long weekend gallivanting around New England. I returned it just as nice as I found it, because I’m considerate like that.

Photo: Amber DaSilva / Jalopnik

The Civic Type R is not, as you might imagine, a far cry from the Integra Type S. Not only do the two cars share an engine, transmission, and chassis, but the critical numbers are nearly identical between the two. The turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 makes 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque in the Civic, versus 320 hp and 310 lb-ft for the Integra. Gear ratios are the same down to the final drive, and the two only differ by a mere 31 pounds of curb weight — 3,188 for the Civic, 3,219 for the Integra.

If you were to put a robot behind the wheel of each car, it would confirm that the two drive much alike. Steering feel, throttle response, brake feedback; none of it is all that different between the Honda and Acura in objective, measurable ways. But pull a human being from the Integra’s leather-trimmed seats and put them in the Civic’s bright red temple to automotive shenanigans, and you’ll be told the Honda is the more aggressive of the two. The Integra enjoys being driven hard, but the Civic begs for it.

Image for article titled The Honda Civic Type R Is Just A Teenage Dirtbag, Baby

Photo: Amber DaSilva / Jalopnik

Put the Civic in first at a dead stop, dump the clutch, and you’ll find yourself barely moving — the front wheels simply will not hook up when asked to handle the car’s maximum torque. Second gear gets you moving, finally letting you experience the full force of turbocharged VTEC, and third quickly gets you into speeds that you should not be going on public roads. With how eager the engine is to rev, fourth and above can be considered highway fuel-sipper gears, or simply decorative.

When you need to slow down from those speeds you’ll be treated to some of the best brakes this side of a six-figure price tag. The four-piston Brembos up front echo the seatbelt-tensioning force of the Focus RS, which remains a benchmark for hot hatch braking performance. Throw the Civic into a corner, and the front is unshakeable. Ask for an angle, and you’ll get it without complaint. Throw the car in harder, and you’ll start to lose traction at the rear first — a feature of the car that still astounds me, even all this time after my first track drive. Front-wheel drive simply should not be able to feel like this, and yet it does.

Image for article titled The Honda Civic Type R Is Just A Teenage Dirtbag, Baby

Photo: Amber DaSilva / Jalopnik

The driving experience, though, is not why you buy the Civic Type R over the Integra Type S. Odd as that sounds, the Civic and the Integra don’t differ much in capability until you’re well over the legal limit — a limit that’s likely heavily enforced on any car with such a massive wing. While the Acura sits undercover in its performance, unrecognizable except to those who notice the Type S’ flared fenders, the Civic is unapologetic about what it is. It’s a tuner car, for hanging out with your tuner friends.

In a Civic Type R, Corvettes will play with you on the highway. GTI owners will stare at your car, not theirs, as they walk from the parking lot to the grocery store. You’ll make eye contact with the driver of every modified car you see on the street, because they’ll all be staring at your Civic. The Type R is known, it’s renowned, and people get it. It’s a signal.

Image for article titled The Honda Civic Type R Is Just A Teenage Dirtbag, Baby

Photo: Amber DaSilva / Jalopnik

Think back to that third verse of Teenage Dirtbag, when the narrator is finally approached by the girl of his dreams. Her first lines in the song aren’t a compliment, they aren’t flirtation, they’re an offer of tickets to Iron Maiden — the band the singer’s been mentioning the whole song. Beneath all the longing for the hot girl in the class, the desire for the prom queen, that narrator above all else wants someone like him to be with.

The Honda Civic Type R will help you find those people like you. You’ll come out to neighboring parking spaces populated with modified WRXes and Preludes, you’ll be the hit of the Thursday night Starbucks parking lot meets. The Type R is a teenage dirtbag, baby, like you — and all those new tuner friends you’re about to have.

Image for article titled The Honda Civic Type R Is Just A Teenage Dirtbag, Baby

Photo: Amber DaSilva / Jalopnik

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