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2018 Honda Civic Type R vs 1989 BMW E34 M5: new vs used

By Scott Newman, 11 Feb 2018 Features

2018 Honda Civic Type R vs 1989 BMW E34 M5 new vs used feature

When you have the budget for a PCOTY winner, but classics are life

As you’ll have hopefully discovered by the time you read this, you don’t need a king’s ransom to drive home in the 2018 Performance Car of the Year.

But if you find the Civic Type R’s looks a little too ‘backwards cap brigade’ (and we wouldn’t blame you) you might be wondering what that budget will get you on the second-hand market.

The BMW E34 M5 predates PCOTY, but it undoubtedly would’ve given the award a real shake, as both E36 and E46 M3s lifted the trophy in years to come. Nowadays, neat examples of BMW’s super sedan not only occupy a similar price point to the Civic Type R in the market, but are also remarkably similar in size and performance.

The E34 M5 is greater in length (+163mm) and wheelbase (+91mm) than the Civic, but narrower (-127mm) and lower (-42mm) with a much smaller footprint on the road.

Under the bonnet its 3.6-litre inline-6cyl produces 232kW/360Nm, later rising to 250kW/400Nm with the introduction of the larger 3.8-litre engine in 1991, numbers in the same ballpark as the Civic’s 228kW/400Nm, though its 2.0-litre turbo four has a much greater spread of torque.

Combine this artificial aspiration with a 350kg weight advantage and it’s the hot hatch that will be the faster car in a straight line.

Don't forget the classics with New vs Used

However, the later, more powerful updated E34 M5 would run it close off the line, its 5.9sec 0-100km/h claim trailing the Honda by just 0.2sec.

In the corners the M5 wouldn’t see which way the Civic went, but the old-timer has a few tricks of its own, including one of the greatest six-cylinder engines and a rear-drive chassis balance that led many to believe it remains the purest M5 built to this day. So pure, in fact, that we plan on getting behind the wheel of one very soon.

  2018 Honda Civic Type R 1989 BMW E34 M5
ENGINE 1998cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo 3535cc inline-6, DOHC, 24v
POWER 228kW @ 6500rpm 232kW @ 6900rpm
TORQUE 400Nm @ 2500-4500rpm 360Nm @ 4750rpm
WEIGHT 1382kg 1733kg
0-100KM/H 5.7sec (claimed) 6.2sec (est)
PRICE $50,990 $168,900 (new)

Here's one we found on Trade Unique Cars

1991 BMW E34 M5 - $45,000, Oz-delivered, 190,000km

Delivered new to Sydney in 1991, this E34 is one of 90 that officially made their way to Aussie shores, of which just 14 were Alpine White. It’s currently located in Western Australia and looks to be in particularly good condition.