The Civic Type R is the sharpest Civic you can buy. This sporty package combines everyday practicality with hatchback practicality and outstanding front-wheel drive performance. The previous-generation model was the first Civic Type R to hit the market in the United States, and its no-longer-forbidden-fruit status made it an instant hit. We praised the Type R for its excellent handling and bold turbocharged performance. The new 2023 Civic Type R keeps that formula, getting an all-new look, fresh interior and upgrades that should help it reclaim its title as the hot hatchback king of the hills.
The bodywork at the front shows a wider grille and more aggressive intakes than the previous car. The new Type R also features a larger radiator and a functional hood vent (no hood scoop like the last Type R). Avid Type R fans may recall reports of the previous generation car overheating during autocross events and track days. Hopefully Honda’s changes have dialed this problem out of the new car.
The Type R 2023 will be built in Japan and not in Surrey, England, where the previous two Type Rs were made. All this goodness is priced at $43,990 including destination. Its main competitors are the Volkswagen Golf R, Hyundai Elantra N and Toyota GR Corolla. With the all-new Type R joining the mix, the battle for hot hatch dominance gets even more interesting.
What’s under the hood of the Type R?
This Civic uses an upgraded version of the turbocharged 2.0-litre turbocharged engine we saw in the last Type R. It makes 315 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers represent an increase of 9 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque over the previous Type R, although recent dyno testing has shown that the FL5 may be underrated. Not a bad thing if performance is the name of your game, but the Type R is about more than raw grunt.
It sends its power to the front wheels via a standard six-speed manual transmission. This year’s transmission has a lighter flywheel and a revised gate shift pattern and shifter for cleaner, quicker shifts. It still has a standard limited-slip Helix limited-slip differential to maximize traction out of tight corners. The Rev Matching feature also makes a return, helping you feel like a blip-shifting hero. As before, there is no option for an automatic transmission.
The front suspension design is the same dual-axle front strut design as the previous Type R. For the uninitiated, Honda’s dual-axle front strut setup is essentially a clever front strut design that does its best to mimic the benefits of a double wishbone setup while pushing the tight packaging constraints of a front-wheel drive car. Adaptive suspension dampers are standard, as are Type-R-specific 19-inch lightweight wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.
How does the FL5 Civic Type R drive?
I have time on the road and at Sonoma Raceway for my first ride, mostly in wet and cold conditions. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires tried valiantly to maintain grip, but the weather was definitely working against them. Luckily, the traction and stability control systems worked quickly to get the car back on track when needed.
After the track dried I did a few more laps and tried Sport mode for quicker throttle response, heavier steering and firmer damping, and then +R mode for maximum power. The improved transmission is a delight with its short throws and smooth progression. The RPM adjustment is wonderful too, but those who want to turn it off can do so in the car’s settings. On the first drive, I didn’t experience any of the awkward transmission grinding when shifting from first to second that could happen in the old car.
The 315hp feels perfect for this type of car and I didn’t notice a huge turbo lag. There’s enough power to satisfy the inner speed demon, but it’s all fully usable. There are a few straights at Sonoma Raceway where the car can be driven flat out without fear. Well, not too much anyway.
Front brakes are 13.8-inch ventilated discs gripped by four-piston Brembo calipers. The rear features 12-inch ventilated discs that work together to ensure the car decelerates quickly and confidently. After several laps the brakes retained their firmness, although I could definitely smell them when I got to the driver change. Torque steer is absent in this front-wheel drive hatch, and limited slip up front allows drivers to resume power early for faster corner exits.
For those who want maximum grip when tossing their Civic Type R around corners, Honda offers Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires as an option. Unfortunately it was too cold to run these tires but we would like to see our lap times improve with this sticky performance rubber.
Compared to the competition, the small GR Corolla is a little cheaper and we like the all-wheel drive better. That doesn’t mean it’s better than the front-wheel drive in the Civic Type R – it’s just personal preference. The Type R is more playful than the Volkswagen Golf R, which seems to have lost some of its spirit in the latest generation.
How comfortable is the new Civic Type R?
The Type R keeps the traditional red sports seats, but now they’re lighter and more supportive. Wider shoulder pads and higher lateral thigh supports keep the rider grounded. I haven’t slipped around at all during my time on the track, the grippy pads and pads do their job perfectly. However, the seats are not so restrictive as to cause discomfort on a long drive. The only thing missing is a heating element. You won’t find hot cross buns in the Type R.
A Comfort mode softens the suspension, but don’t expect a comfortable ride. Even on this setting, the Type R still feels firmer than most cars on the market. Granted, we wouldn’t expect anything less, but if you don’t want to feel every stone on the road, the Type R isn’t for you.
Compared to the standard Civic, the Type R’s main changes focus on the seats, new red upholstery and, of course, a teardrop-shaped aluminum shifter. There’s also a new instrument cluster for the Type R, this time offering a traditional speedometer view. (The previous model only displayed a speed number.) The instrument cluster is customizable and includes information not available on other manual-shift Civics, such as: B. Your current gear choice. There’s 24.5 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which is more than the Toyota GR Corolla’s 17.8 cubic feet or the Volkswagen Golf R’s 19.9 cubic foot hatch.
The Type R gets the 9-inch touchscreen that serves as the latest Civic’s updated infotainment system. We like it overall for its intuitive on-screen menus and quick responses. It also features wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Honda is also equipping the Type R with the upgraded 12-speaker Bose sound system. For 2023 Honda’s LogR data logger has been improved. It can display a variety of performance measurements such as a g-meter and stopwatch to collect lap times.
The Civic Type R also gets a few more features in the standard Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver aids. Adaptive cruise control is also included, as is automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and active lane keeping control. The latest Type R also features rear cross traffic alert, blind spot alert and traffic sign recognition.