Honda has offered the Civic Type R in other markets for decades, but it wasn’t until the last-generation Civic, that Honda finally decided to bring its iconic hot hatch to the U.S. The last-generation Civic Type R was an in your face hot hatch that combined expressive styling and impressive performance in a practical package. Now we have the redesigned 2023 Civic Type R, which builds on the successes of the last generation and also fixes some of the things that we didn’t like.
The biggest issue with the last generation Civic Type R was its “boy racer” polarizing styling that was so in your face that it was easily to be turned off by over the top it was. Honda has fixed that with the 2023 Civic Type R, which looks a lot more grown up and also more conservative than its predecessor. The look may not turn as many heads this time, but it’s a lot easier on the eyes and also looks more upscale. The new Type R also looks more planted to the road, since it’s longer, wider and lower than the last one.
Inside the Civic Type R’s cabin feels a bit more upscale than the last one with higher quality materials and a more pleasing design. The front sport seats are excellent at holding your body in place, but are also comfortable enough for everyday driving. Out only gripe is that the rear seats don’t look or feel nearly as good as the front seats. Other Type R specific goodies include a thicker steering wheel, an aluminum shifter and metal trim on the center console.
In front of the driver there’s a unique digital gauge cluster, which changes the layout of the information based on which drive mode your in. In the sportiest +R mode, there’s also an LED shift light that illuminates on the top to help you find the ideal shift points. At the center of the dashboard there’s the same 9-inch infotainment system that you get in other Civic models, but it does have a unique Performance Monitor that displays real time info, like a g-meter, lap timer and other critical info from the powertrain.
Now for the performance improvements. The 2023 Civic Type R is powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder as the last generation, but it now generates 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, which is an additional 9 hp and 15 lb-ft over the previous Type R. Also just like before, the power is set to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission with automatic rev matching, which Honda says is 10 percent quicker than before. Around town there is a tiny bit of turbo lag below 2,000 rpm, but above that the engine comes to life with a wide powerband. A common complaint about the last Type R was its soundtrack, which is still somewhat of a complaint with the new one, since it doesn’t sound as good as the Toyota GR Corolla.
Honda didn’t just stop with the powertrain improvements, the new Civic Type R also received several chassis upgrades to make it even more fun to fling around a track. The steering is more responsive with better feedback and the suspension has also been tweaked a bit. In Comfort mode the suspension isn’t too harsh for everyday driving, but when you select the sportier +R mode everything tightens up. The Type R loves being driven hard and easily begs for more as you carve up a back country road.
When it’s time to dial things down a bit, the four-piston Brembo brake calipers and 13.8-inch front rotors bring you to a stop with ease. The 19-inch wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, while Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires are available. Grip is never really an issue, which is something that we’d be concerned with that much power going to the front wheels. There’s also a lack of torque steer, which you’d normally expect with this much power on tap. The Civic Type R is easily one of the best, if not the best front wheel drive car you can buy.
The last Civic Type R didn’t have too many rivals, but that’s changed now with the addition of the Hyundai Elantra N and Toyota GR Corolla. Both of those rivals are great, but the Type R has a leg up on the Elantra N with its less versatile trunk and the GR Corolla with its more snug interior. The GR Corolla is easily the Civic Type R’s closest rival and it does offer something that you can’t get with the Honda, all-wheel drive.
Now for the pricing, the 2023 Honda Civic Type R only comes in one trim level and starts at $44,390, including destination. That’s a bit more than the starting price of the GR Corolla, which starts at $36,995. But the caveat here is that the Type R has more standard equipment than the base GR Corolla Core model. The Civic Type R’s interior also feels more upscale than the GR Corolla. The better equipped GR Corolla Circuit Edition starts at $43,995.
At the end of the day, enthusiasts would love to spend most of their time behind the wheel of a sports car, but the reality is that you need to carry more than one passenger and probably also need some cargo space. This is what makes the 2023 Honda Civic Type R so perfect, it’s a sports car at heart, but is also a practical machine with four seats and ample cargo space. If you love the joy of driving and can only have one car, the Civic Type R should be at the top of your list.
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