Every enduringly good automotive has a repeatable components. If you’ve discovered it as soon as and remained true to that ethos, yow will discover it once more. At worst, you’ll give the world extra of an important factor. The 2023 Honda Civic Type R is extra of an important factor, in a wrapper many individuals will discover extra agreeable than the earlier era. Which is essential, as a result of it was exhausting to have any dialog about the outgoing Type R with out tripping right into a dialog in regards to the design. Thank goodness; we will discuss one thing else now.
Full disclosure: Honda flew me out to Napa, California, put me up in a resort the place all of the employees wore Canadian tuxedos and gave me a brand new Civic Type R to drive on the cascading, dewey hills of Sonoma Raceway, the place I discovered a number of sobering classes on wet-weather driving.
2023 Civic Type R: What Is It?
It’s the most recent iteration of Honda’s bread-and-butter efficiency compact, constructed atop the Eleventh-generation “FL” Civic five-door hatch. This marks the sixth Civic Type R, however solely the second to be formally bought in North America since 2017. It’s arriving to prospects now, and is available in only one configuration, priced at $43,990 (together with a $1,095 vacation spot cost).
Before we go any additional, I’d be remiss to not point out Steve DaSilva’s earlier story about monitoring the brand new Civic Type R over at Texas’ Harris Hill Raceway. He solely bought a number of laps, and resulting from inclement circumstances at Sonoma Raceway on the afternoon of my drive, so did I. However, I did have the chance to drive the Type R on the street as nicely, so I can converse to the automotive in a extra routine context. Spoiler: It’s nice there, too!
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But let’s flip again to the subject of styling, as a result of it’s essential to the FL Type R’s story. Remember the outgoing Tenth-generation Civic? The one which seemed prefer it was penned by the child who introduced a Rockstar Energy tallboy to ninth-grade artwork? Honda can have you recognize, when the corporate surveyed patrons of that automotive about their buying issues, design persistently positioned close to the highest of the checklist. And I fully consider that. It’s the identical purpose why BMW can defend itself behind its prospects each time it’s criticized for its personal quizzical design selections. Plenty of individuals gravitate towards aggression.
Still, one thing motivated Honda to tone down the outside of the new Type R. Count me among the many contingent that’s happy to see the Type R dialed again, to face extra in step with Civics of yore. It’s not excellent: the liftgate is so awkwardly rakish that this may by no means be a hatchback in my eyes, and the entrance finish appears to be like stubby in pictures.
But that triple exhaust is the wildest I’ve seen on a modestly priced manufacturing automotive in a while, and the GT4-esque wing strikes the right vibe. The complete package deal appears to be like even higher with the dealer-installed accent solid wheels, which remind me of the basic Type R rims on the EP and FN Civics.
2023 Honda Civic Type R: What’s New?
The adjustments run deep beneath the refined new sheet steel, and the engine’s a great place to start out. With 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque on faucet, Honda has been proud to level out that this new Type R is probably the most highly effective automotive it’s ever bought within the U.S. (In a lot of the world, that title goes to the 600-hp second-generation NSX, which wears a Honda badge outdoors the U.S.) I don’t know if that reality will impress lovers the way in which the automaker thinks it should, but it surely’s a milestone all the identical.
You can credit score optimizations to the turbo and exhaust system for the 9-hp, 15-lb-ft enhance to the K20C’s output — the identical 2.0-liter mill from the final Type R. Cooling was a bugbear within the outgoing mannequin, so the FL-generation Type R advantages from a grille that’s bigger by almost half, in addition to an even bigger radiator and fan.
The transfer to the Eleventh-gen Civic floorplan means an extended wheelbase by 1.4 inches. That alone helps stability, however after all the Type R will get particular therapy. Honda says it’s boosted rear torsional rigidity 15 % over final yr’s mannequin, and widened the observe by a full inch within the entrance and three-quarters within the rear. Engineers dialed extra preliminary detrimental camber and caster into the Type R’s famend torque-steer-neutralizing dual-axis entrance suspension within the pursuit of sharper turn-in.
Electric energy steering and adaptive dampers work in live performance to ship three decidedly distinctive driving modes: Comfort, Sport and R+. You’re additionally free to mix-and-match experience, steering, throttle and sound traits by way of a brand new, customizable Individual mode, which is the actual star of the present. Don’t depend on a sonorous exhaust be aware, although. Even with that aggressive-looking triple-tip setup and the primary active-valve muffler system ever fitted to a Type R, the turbo four-cylinder makes a subdued sound.
2023 Civic Type R: How Does it Drive?
Northern California is residence to among the nation’s most interesting driving roads — precisely the sort you need to deal with in a Type R. Ink has already been spilled on the new sizzling Civic’s observe prowess, and I’ll share my expertise there as nicely. But first, let’s discuss composure on the road.
The Type R is an easy automotive to take pleasure in, and that accessibility is greatest exemplified by the transmission. The six-speed guide on this automotive is probably the most forgiving I’ve ever pushed, and albeit, the very best within the efficiency hatchback class. Every facet of the gearbox is just about excellent: The basic Type R milled steel shift knob; the heft and consistency of each throw, easy but imbued with all of the tactile suggestions you need; the agreeability of the clutch and the responsiveness of the automated rev-matching. Heel-toe aficionados needn’t concern — that final function will be turned off. The clutch motion by no means fools you into considering you want extra throttle than is critical. You must intentionally exit of your approach to get a jerky begin within the Type R. That’s not true of Toyota’s GR Corolla, and that’s additionally not the final time the Corolla will come up on this assessment.
The steering is tight, fast and direct. Sport mode helped by firming up the steering help and the suspension dampers, however on choppier mountain asphalt, I used to be grateful for Comfort mode’s extra compliant experience. The Type R will make a wonderful every day driver, little question about it.
A observe presents completely different issues, and the Type R excels there too. But there was a wrinkle in my first go to to Sonoma Raceway: Rain was very a lot within the forecast.
Nothing — not even my years of dominance in Gran Turismo 4 again when the circuit was referred to as Infineon — might put together me for the ass-clenching problem of lapping this curler coaster of a course, within the moist, in a high-powered front-wheel-drive automotive. Our professional information for the day was Honda manufacturing unit driver Ryan Eversley, who steered an FK8 Type R to a TCR-class championship through the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge season. He beneficial we stay within the softest Comfort mode for probably the most grip within the poor climate.
You must strategy a automotive just like the Civic Type R delicately in these circumstances. The front-drive nature of the automotive accelerates that previous axiom of the efficiency driving “string theory”: Imagine a string connecting the steering wheel to the accelerator pedal. If you’re turning the wheel, you must ease off the gasoline; if you wish to speed up, you must straighten the wheel. The mixture of chilly tires and a slick floor despatched me skittering on the Type R’s inventory Pilot Sport 4 rubber as I attempted to tiptoe over Turn 2 on the sighting lap. “Oh, it’s going to be like that,” I stated to myself.
Over the subsequent few laps, I discovered the place to be particularly considered with the throttle. Turn 5 — the lengthy, high-speed right-hander earlier than the lengthy descending left-hand carousel — proved surprisingly difficult. It appears to be like like a straightforward bend, however I wanted a number of excursions by way of it to appreciate I’d been asking the tires to do an excessive amount of. Once I eased off the throttle nearly fully, it turned manageable.
As the observe dried into the afternoon, I might construct somewhat velocity. (Except in that pesky Turn 5, which is situated behind an embankment in a shadow and by no means totally dried.) The Type R ate up the back-half esses with barely any physique roll, whereas in low-speed corners the automotive displayed an entire devotion to razor-sharp turn-in, one thing Steve talked about in his observe drive. This is a playful automotive, desirous to rotate. And despite the fact that I used to be lapping predominantly in Comfort mode, the traction management didn’t actually step in till I’d made a idiot out of myself and wanted it to tug me again.
2023 Civic Type R: How’s the Interior?
There are loads of causes you’d need a new Civic Type R in your life, however it’s possible you’ll be stunned to be taught one of many largest is the inside. The cabin is so good — for the driving force and entrance passenger, anyway — it units the benchmark for each automotive on this class.
It’s a completely pleasant place to spend a number of hours, however then, so is an atypical Eleventh-gen Civic. However, that automotive wouldn’t have the Type R’s gorgeous crimson seats and carpet, or the aforementioned shifter — an object of artwork all to itself. The seats are cosy however not stifling, and way more comfy than their competition-inspired form may indicate. My solely gripe is which you can’t choice heated or power-operated entrance seats, which is fairly unforgivable for a automotive on this class. It’s exhausting to remain mad at these seats, although, wanting as phenomenal as they do.
Continuing the design plaudits, I like the honeycomb grate spanning the width of the dashboard, the enduring crimson badge on the steering wheel and the overall airiness of the cabin. The A-pillars are thinner, which actually makes it simpler to see out of the automotive, and even makes it really feel extra nimble as you purpose towards an apex. Honda’s Android-based infotainment system isn’t spectacular to have a look at, however it’s moderately laid out and strikes a great center floor between Toyota’s to-a-fault minimalism and Volkswagen’s labyrinthine, inscrutable menus. You get loads of bodily buttons and knobs, too, which is at all times a win.
The rear seat in a automotive like this tends to be a goal for cost-cutting, and we now have to acknowledge that issue within the Type R, the place the rear lodging are about as primary as they arrive. Even my Ford Fiesta ST, which value about $20,000 much less (in 2017 cash, anyway) had partial leather-based on all of the seats. The Type R provides you what is actually a discount Civic material bench, with a touch of crimson stitching and crimson seatbelts. And as a result of the cupholders dwell completely between the rear seats — relatively than in a stow-away armrest — you’ll be able to’t even stuff a fifth passenger in there. Honda might do higher.
2023 Honda Civic Type R: Competition and Final Thoughts
Although I missed my likelihood to drive the final Type R, not too long ago I’ve been lucky sufficient to pattern what I’d take into account to be Honda’s two foremost opponents right here: the Toyota GR Corolla and the Volkswagen Golf R.
In some methods, you’ll be able to view the Type R because the midpoint between each vehicles. It’s not as reasonably priced as the most affordable $36,995 GR Corolla, and even a well-optioned Core mannequin with limited-slip diffs will be had for lower than the Honda. On the opposite hand, the Type R is simply over $1,000 lower than the $45,185 Golf R. That market place is smart, with the Type R being extra comfy than the Corolla (owing to Honda’s adaptive dampers) however much less luxurious and teched-out than the Volkswagen (although that has its advantages).
And then there’s that little problem of how every automotive motivates itself. Compared with the all-wheel-drive GR Corolla and Golf R, the Type R is the lightest of the trio at 3,188 kilos. That figures to be a large benefit over the three,481-pound Volkswagen, however undercuts the Core-spec Toyota by simply 64 kilos. The Civic’s 315 hp matches the Golf and beats the 300-hp Corolla; Honda additionally claims a transparent torque benefit too, besting VW by 15 lb-ft (if we’re evaluating to the DSG-equipped Golf R) and Toyota by 37 lb-ft.
So the Civic Type R is the lightest and strongest automotive in its class. But all-wheel drive’s benefits are exhausting to disregard. And so long as we’re speaking in regards to the front-wheel-drive camp, we now have to acknowledge the gnarled mug of the Hyundai Elantra N, choosing up proper the place the previous FK8 left off. At $33,245, it’s nearly $11,000 cheaper than the Type R, however forces you to accept simply 276 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque. I’ve by no means pushed the Elantra N, and on paper it’s the much less compelling of the pair. But is it 5 figures worse? That’s a query you’ll must reply for your self.
Each of those vehicles shines in its personal proper, prioritizing completely different points of the efficiency compact expertise. That doesn’t diminish the Civic Type R’s brilliance. This is a deserving addition to an extended line of quick Honda hatches, with loads of enhancements and a refreshing new face. That’s all we ever wanted it to be: Proof that the Civic Type R components continues to work.
2023 Honda Civic Type R Touring Manual Specs
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4