Honda is a household brand that currently boasts the largest internal combustion engine and motorcycle production of any manufacturer globally. Surprisingly, despite these impressive stats, Honda is rarely one of the first names in mind during sports car discussions. The leadership’s focus on safety, efficiency, and reliability has seen Honda offer a relatively thinned-out sports car lineup over the years compared to other heavy hitters.
Updated March 2023: From the S500 and S600, which are largely considered as Honda’s first sports cars, to the incredibly amazing NSX that has remained in production even until recent times, this list has some of the most enthralling Honda sports cars ever, and we’ve even updated it with more amazing models.
However, the lack of dominant numbers in the sports car segment is by no means an indication that Honda lacks cool sports cars. On the contrary, Honda has produced game-changing sports cars that gained legendary status among enthusiasts. Read on to discover the coolest Honda sports cars ever made.
11 Honda 1300
Although Honda’s automobile business struggled in the 1970s, the iconic 1300 is a forgotten sports car that caused waves for its outstanding engineering. The 1300 sedan variant introduced the air-cooled engine concept in mass-production Hondas, while the coupe popularized the revolutionary Mohican structure currently employed by many automobiles.
Honda engineers made the 116 hp 1.3-liter inline-four engine a marvel that outperformed cars like the Toyota Corona, which featured larger displacement power plants. The continuous design changes and reverse operation in auto production tech in developing the Honda 1300 Coupe 9 set the standards for the legendary Civic.
10 Honda S500
Interestingly, the S500 was Honda’s first passenger automobile and the root of its sports car heritage as we know it today. The S500 was arguably the first Japanese sports car to receive admiration from the Western market, boasting impressive driving finesse, a revolutionary suspension setup, and an insanely lightweight form factor comparable to the mighty Lotus Elan.
Equipped with a 531cc DOHC inline-four derived from 15 years of motorcycle excellence, the S500 series offered the most technologically advanced engine of the time. The shift to aluminum, roller-bearing crankshafts, and hemispherical combustion chambers allowed the S500 to achieve an insane 9,500 rpm redline, with 8,000 rpm producing 44 hp and a respectable 80 mph top speed.
9 Honda S660
The S660 is the spiritual successor of the Beat, carrying Honda’s trademark Kei car formula of two seats, mid-engine, and rear-wheel drive convertibles into the 21st century. Developed to offer a heart-throbbing experience and excitement, the S660 boasts a low center of gravity and an optimal 45:55 front/rear balance for excellent cornering performance.
The S660 comes with a 64 hp 660cc DOHC inline-three-cylinder engine, an exclusively designed turbocharger, and the first six-speed manual transmission fitted in a mini-vehicle. Despite the apparent lack of power, the S660 is a cool driver’s sports car that excels in the fun of driving, making turns, and maneuvering for everyday use.
8 Honda CRX Si
The standard CRX was an instant global success for its remarkable blend of practicality and engineering prowess, but the CRX Si upped the ante with higher performance upgrades. Honda spiced up the Si variant with fully independent double-wishbone suspension, rear anti-roll bars, wider tires, stiffer shocks, and four-wheel disc brakes.
At the heart of the front-wheel drive, CRX Si is a 1.6-liter inline-four-cylinder mated to a five-speed manual gearbox to deliver 105 hp and 98lb-ft of torque. The lighter curb weight and simplicity made the CRX Si a potent rival to affordable performance vehicles like the beloved Volkswagen GTI.
7 Honda S800C
What started as Honda’s attempt at a small 360cc car with the S360 prototype exploded into the iconic S sports car series, culminating with the outrageous S800. The S800 fastback coupe was the last evolution of the early S series, a model that broke away from its predecessors with features like a live rear axle, front disc brakes, and several safety features, including side marker lights, hazard warning lights, recessed door handles, and dual circuit brakes.
Further upgrades encompassed a higher engine displacement for the inline-four to 791cc and a four-speed manual transmission, boosting power output to 70 hp and 48lb-ft of torque. Besides becoming the first Honda to crack 100 mph, the S800 embodied the think-different engineering that endeared Honda sports cars to enthusiasts.
6 Honda Prelude VTEC
The Prelude initially faced perennial competitors like the Toyota Celica, Mitsubishi FTO, and Nissan Silvia, but the fourth-generation overhaul brought it closer to heavyweights like the trendier Toyota MR2. Honda discontinued the pop-up headlights and introduced an electronic four-wheel steering system, 58:42 front/rear weight distribution, wider front fascia, steel sliding roof, and a roof spoiler.
The VTEC variant was the most potent compared to the base S and Si models, boasting a 2.2-liter DOHC VTEC H22A1 engine capable of 190 hp and 158 lb-ft of torque. Due to its competitiveness in speed, style, and build quality, the Prelude VTEC achieved cult status, with demand for sportier, manual transmission versions still high to date.
5 Honda Integra Type R
The high-performance Integra Type R is a ’90s JDM icon that the majority considered the greatest front-wheel drive sports car during its production period. Built on the solid base of the DC2 Integra, Honda engineers applied the racing experience from previous projects to make the hand-crafted Integra Type R the closest thing to a road-legal race car.
One of the most significant hallmarks of the Integra Type R is the sweet-sounding 1.8-liter DOHC VTEC B18C unit under the hood, rated at 195 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the agile performance capabilities, forgiving ride quality, super-sharp handling, lack of torque steer, and strong grip of the Integra Type R, growing collector interest has seen prices skyrocket in recent years.
4 Honda S2000 CR
The S2000 reintroduced the quintessential classic roadster spirit of the first Honda S Series sports cars of the 1960s, blending the concept with impressive 21st-century technology. The higher-spec S2000 Club Racer further elevated the sports car formula with track-oriented suspension settings, higher rigidity, aerodynamic-enhanced bodywork, specially tuned front/rear spoilers, a removable hardtop, and a 51 lbs weight reduction.
The front-engine, rear-wheel-drive S2000 CR features a potent 2.2-liter DOHC VTEC four-cylinder engine mated to a short throw six-speed manual to deliver 237 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. The S2000 CR’s ability to combine racetrack-inspired performance and handling with everyday practicality made it a performance icon and arguably one of the coolest roadsters ever featured in the Honda lineup.
3 Honda Civic Type R
The Type R designation has a long and proud history in Honda’s lineup, and no model has worn it better over the years than the Civic model. The Civic Type R’s legendary history dates to the sixth-generation model, dubbed the EK9. This formidable three-door hatchback dominated racetracks and set the performance and track-oriented aerodynamic benchmarks for future models.
Despite undergoing numerous cosmetic and body style changes across all five versions, the Civic Type R maintained the ultimate expression of an exciting, front-wheel drive, high-performance Honda. The Civic Type R’s legacy includes smashing and setting new Nürburgring FWD lap records in 2015 and 2017.
2 Honda CR-X Del Sol
Succeeding the CR-X, the CR-X del Sol is one of those Honda models that are quite easy to love just by looking at it. But, there’s more to it than just the aesthetic, and we’ll get to that soon. A two-seater targa top sports car, the del Sol has a detachable aluminum roof that inspired its name, as well as an automatic drop-down rear window.
Honda enthusiasts in America found this model particularly exciting, being the first open-air Honda sold in the country. During its reign in the States, the model featured several mills that included the 1.6-liter 16-valve DOHC VTEC four-cylinder engine, good for an output of 160 hp. While in production, the car was also available in several exciting colors like Milano Red, Vogue Silver Metallic, and Frost White.
1 Honda NSX
Honda’s attempt at building Japan’s first supercar was an overwhelming success, considering the first-generation NSX model obliterated its European competition and introduced revolutionary technology. Notably, Honda engineers improved on the original NSX, spawning higher-spec variants like the NSX-R, NSX-T, NSX-S, and NSX-S Zero, not to mention the Le Mans and Super GT race cars.
Currently, the second-generation NSX Type S embodies the pinnacle of dynamic driving, continuing to honor Honda’s impeccable supercar lineage with a striking design and meticulous engineering. The NSX Type S pushes the boundaries of possibility, not just as the coolest model in the lineup, but as the fastest adrenaline-fueled Honda sports car of all time.