Loving a car during a weeklong press loan is one thing, loving it once it’s in your driveway is another. I absolutely adored the new Civic Si when I first drove it last summer. However, six months later I bought one and it just didn’t align to my newly changed lifestyle, so I sold it after just three months. My biggest issue if you recall was that it just needed too much explaining. “Well, it’s the fast Civic, well not the fast Civic, that’s the Type R…”. It never quite felt special enough, but now I’ve had a go in the actual fast Civic, the latest Type R. Let’s see how it stacks up to the Si, and if it’s enough to justify the nearly $15,000 price difference.
2023 Honda Civic Type R Overview
I’ve had an odd history with the last Type R. The first time I drove it at a press rally, I wasn’t a massive fan. However, after a week with one I declared on AutoTrader dot com slash oversteer that I was wrong about the Honda Civic Type R. It’s charm out on the street started to outweigh it’s audacious looks. More on that in the next section, for now let’s focus on the new Type R. As I mentioned, it’s a cool $15,000 more than the Civic Si, and starts at just under $43,800.
If you go for anything other than black or red on the outside it’ll add $455 and naturally there is only one color choice on the inside – red. The package options are pretty straightforward and include the R Performance pack which gets you a carbon fiber spoiler (which is 1.6 lbs lighter and also available a la carte for $2,250) and some 19-inch forged alloy wheels. Then there is the Interior Driver’s package which has illuminated door sills, a leather-wrapped shifter and an Alcantara steering wheel. The rest of the options section is interior and exterior protection bits and “Accessories” is what you’d normally expect, plus a lot of roof racks.
Our tester just had the Championship White paint added so out the door it’s $45,345…not including any dealer “upgrades” or mark-ups. When the new R came out I saw $15,000 tacked on to one by my local dealer but I’m not sure what the market is doing at the moment.
2023 Honda Civic Type R Inside & Out
Before I talk about the latest car, I want to revisit the last Type R for a moment. Even to this day, every time I see an FK8 on the street, I still shudder a little. It’s not a pretty car and in my semi-pro opinion was drastically over styled. Even during that AutoTrader loan I overheard a group of cute 20-something girls at a crosswalk say “Oh wow, would you look at that” and it was clear that they weren’t looking at the Civic in a positive light. This new FL5 version is based on eleventh generation Civic and it looks pretty bloody fantastic. Gone are the ridiculous array of scoops, slats, wings, and such.
In fact, it’s a great looking thing. Up front a simple honeycomb grille that emulates the pattern on the dash is paired with functional brake ducts on either side. In fact, Honda says the wheel design plus those cooling ducts drop temps on the big Brembo brakes by 140 degrees Fahrenheit after some heavy track time which is properly nerdy stuff, I love it. Out back it’s much the same, the rear emulates the front style-wise with only a diffuser, 3-hole exhaust, and that big wing hinting at what’s underneath the skin of the Type R. And really that wing is about the most audacious thing on the new R, and it looks a bit more stylish than the old setup. There’s more that separates the R from it’s lesser Civic brethren including a vented hood, flared fenders, and a wider rear. It’s lower, longer, and wider than the outgoing car, and all that combines into a much better looking car on the outside.
On the inside you get the typical bright red seats and carpets, but it’s all packaged in a much more conservative and attractive design compared to the last iteration. The seats are amazing, and are 7% lighter than the last car’s buckets. Other iconic R features are there including the red “H” on the wheel, a stubby aluminum shift knob, and a Type R serialized VIN plate on the dash which is stupid cool.
Ergonomically, it’s a great place to spend time and like the latest Civic, it’s comfortable and well laid out. When the car is in +R mode an “F1-style illuminated rev-counter appears (above left), and Honda’s LogR Performance App can get into all sorts of track-day geekiness if you’re up for it. Otherwise it’s fairly typical Civic with the nine-inch touchscreen, standard Bose audio, and more.
Criticisms were minimal. Occasionally the touchscreen would get fuzzy and pixelated (above right), like the wireless connection wasn’t fully processing all the 1s and 0s via Apple CarPlay through my iPhone. Speaking of my phone, it is a bit surprising that the wireless charging area doesn’t hold the phone in place better considering the G-forces this car is capable of. I found that it would shift left and right and stop charging.
From a practicality standpoint, the R made for a great daily driver. Honda added 1.4 inches of legroom in the rear over the outgoing model and the 24.5 cu. ft. of space in the rear tackled hockey practice for my youngest fairly well (however, note in the above right photo that the stick had to go into the passenger compartment).
2023 Honda Civic Type R On The Road
The Civic Type R set a new front-wheel-drive record at the Suzuka Circuit, besting the 2021 Civic Type R Limited Edition with a lap time of 2 minutes and 23.120 seconds. So you’d imagine that it’s pretty quick on the street. And it is. Sort of like the GR Corolla I tested recently, you have to give it the beans to get the most out of it but it’s stupid fun. Otherwise, around town it is a peach and very easy to live with. I love how you can put it in Individual (top left), which allows it to settle into the comfortable suspension and still get all the fun noises and sporty settings. The 2.0L engine puts out 315 horsepower which is up nine ponies over the last car. When you hit your favorite back road, just press the R button and it is ready to go. It’s even got a “brake hold” button” which was great for stop and go traffic or hill starts.
On said back road it’s ridiculously fun. The Pilot Sport 4S tires are super grippy, and Honda will sell you a set of Pilot Sport Cup 2s (265/30R19) via your local dealer if you want more. The Brembo brakes are what you would expect, the sizeable 13.8-inch rotors and 4-piston calipers drop speed from the 3,188 pound Civic quite well. Honda updated the steering and suspension, but the adaptive dampers really put in the work making the Type R amazing to drive but also pretty comfortable. It sounds great too, with a trick active exhaust valve that candidly sounds much better than the Integra Type S that I just reviewed. Savvy hoons will note that they are the same car underneath, do I smell a comparison coming? Maybe.
It’s hard to find fault with the Type R out on the road. When my hands were a little oily (beard oil in this case), the metal shift knob was a little hard to hold onto. And really, that about all I could come up with, like I said it’s a peach.
So, it looks great and it drives great, is there any reason not to buy a new Honda Civic Type R? Well, not not an inexpensive proposition, at $45K out the door before markups and you start to run into some other competitors. The aforementioned GR Corolla is quite a bit cheaper, starting at $36,100 for 2024. Or, if you’re looking for something similar to the Type R the Hyundai Elantra N starts at just $32,900. Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s slightly more grown-up Golf R starts at around $45K, and if find a good deal on a new Audi S3 (which starts at $47K) you’re in the same ballpark. Even the latest Mustang GT will only run you $44K out the door for a 480 horsepower V8, but obviously you lose the practical rear space.
Although I might have the Type R over all of those. It’s more fun to drive than either of the Germans, it’s much better looking than the GR Corolla or Elantra N, and I really like having a usable back seat at this point so it’s more practical than the Mustang. So, if you want a daily driver that’s ridiculous fun and is pretty damn practical, the Type R is your car. I just hope the dealerships are kind on pricing.
Oh and quick teaser on what’s to come, super comparoooooooo!