Honda Civic Type R review

Category: Hot hatch

Awesome performance and brilliant handling. One of the world's greatest hot hatches.

Honda Civic Type R front cornering
  • Honda Civic Type R front cornering
  • Honda Civic Type R rear cornering
  • Honda Civic Type R interior dashboard
  • Honda Civic Type R interior back seats
  • Honda Civic Type R interior infotainment
  • Honda Civic Type R right tracking
  • Honda Civic Type R front cornering
  • Honda Civic Type R front left cornering
  • Honda Civic Type R rear right tracking
  • Honda Civic Type R alloy wheel
  • Honda Civic Type R headlight
  • Honda Civic Type R rear light
  • Honda Civic Type R vent detail
  • Honda Civic Type R interior front seats
  • Honda Civic Type R interior driver display
  • Honda Civic Type R interior dashboard
  • Honda Civic Type R interior dashboard detail
  • Honda Civic Type R interior gearstick
  • Honda Civic Type R boot open
  • Honda Civic Type R front cornering
  • Honda Civic Type R rear cornering
  • Honda Civic Type R interior dashboard
  • Honda Civic Type R interior back seats
  • Honda Civic Type R interior infotainment
  • Honda Civic Type R right tracking
  • Honda Civic Type R front cornering
  • Honda Civic Type R front left cornering
  • Honda Civic Type R rear right tracking
  • Honda Civic Type R alloy wheel
  • Honda Civic Type R headlight
  • Honda Civic Type R rear light
  • Honda Civic Type R vent detail
  • Honda Civic Type R interior front seats
  • Honda Civic Type R interior driver display
  • Honda Civic Type R interior dashboard
  • Honda Civic Type R interior dashboard detail
  • Honda Civic Type R interior gearstick
  • Honda Civic Type R boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The best things in life are a perfect fit. Your favourite trainers, for example, are comfy enough to wear for hours, yet reassuringly strong and grippy in challenging situations. And this latest Honda Civic Type R is very much like that go-to pair of trainers.

Indeed, you only need a short stint in the driving seat of this hot hatchback variant of the Honda Civic to discover that it feels just right, with lashings of performance and engagement to help you tackle the best roads.

The previous-generation Civic Type R was very close to achieving that too, but the standard version's cartoonish wheel-arch extensions and tea-tray spoiler will either have wowed you or made you go: "Yuck!" If it was the second reaction, you’ll be happy to see that the latest Type R looks a bit more grown-up.

Don’t go thinking this successor has lost any of its character, though – it certainly hasn't. Better still, the smooth new exterior has increased its aerodynamic performance, making it even better at going round corners. That means you can use every bit of the 324bhp coming from the revised 2.0-litre turbocharged engine.

An ethos of small engineering revisions and performance wins can be seen across the new Type R. Honda has made little changes to everything from the engine and brake cooling to the tyres and suspension setup. Given that the car they started with was already brilliant, that bodes very well.

It's going to need every one of those clever little tweaks, though. Why? Well, during its hiatus from the hot-hatch world, rivals have been hard at work too. And that means this front-wheel-drive-only model must compete with some outrageously quick four-wheel-drive rivals, such as the Mercedes-AMG A45 S.

On top of that, the Type R’s latest price tag makes the Ford Focus ST and Hyundai i30 N look even better value. Then there’s the ever-present VW Golf R – a hot hatch that’s rapid in a straight line and handy in the corners, but also a dream to use every day.

So, in terms of speed, handling and everyday usability, where exactly does the Honda Civic Type R sit in the hot-hatch pecking order? Read on over the next few pages of this review and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Whichever car you end up choosing, make sure you check out our free What Car? New Car Deals service before you buy it to find how much you could save off the brochure price. It's a good place to find many of the best new hot hatchback deals.

Honda Civic image
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

While its looks have been softened, the Honda Civic Type R’s pursuit of pace definitely hasn’t. Its performance off the line (0-62mph takes 5.4sec) isn’t a match for the Mercedes-AMG A45 S (3.9sec) but it feels nothing short of blisteringly rapid, accelerating through the gears noticeably faster than the Ford Focus ST and VW Golf R.

The Type R’s 2.0-litre 324bhp engine (up from 316bhp) loves to rev, zinging around to 7000rpm with well-oiled fluidity. Plus, there’s plenty of useful grunt available at lower revs, so it can pull handsomely from 50mph in sixth but, equally, you’ll discover real pleasure flicking from gear to gear. Its super-slick six-speed gearbox has one of the best manual shifts of any car on sale today.

When you need to shed momentum, the upgraded brakes play their part impeccably. In the previous Type R, spending time on a track would cause the brakes to fade, but the new car’s increased air flow and cooling means there’s been a noticeable improvement. The stopping power is impressive, giving you confidence to push closer and closer to the car’s limits.

The exhaust note isn’t as elaborate as some hot hatchbacks – including the Golf R – which pop and bang on each downshift. It’s an honest noise that’s largely unembellished by fake, digitally generated aural overlays. There’s less turbo whoosh when accelerating than there used to be, but what's left will leave you in no doubt about the power it’s producing.

Sounds thrilling, doesn’t it? Well, we’re only just getting started because the Type R experience hits its high when things get twisty. This is, quite simply, one of the best-balanced and grippiest hot hatches you can buy.

Despite lacking four-wheel drive, we reckon it’ll give the A45 S a run for its money when it comes to cornering speed, and demolish the lap time of front-wheel-drive rivals including the Focus ST. In fact, it has already claimed the front-wheel-drive lap record at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan.

Part of the reason behind that is the Type R’s limited-slip differential. It does a fantastic job of distributing power to whichever wheel can cope with it best, dragging you out of turns with hugely impressive speed and stability. 

To make the most of that on track, you’ll want to switch the suspension into +R mode. In that mode, the suspension and dampers are set to their stiffest, turning it into what feels like a mini British Touring Car, with absolutely no body lean and supercar levels of body control. 

Of course, the issue with all the power being fed to the front wheels is that, when it rains, it will struggle far more than the A45 S and Golf R to transfer that oomph to the road surface. Even with stickier Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber, it’ll happily spin its wheels through first, second and third gear, especially when they’re cold.

The steering is impossible to fault for accuracy. The only niggle is that it’s very heavy in +R mode. Fortunately, Honda has added an Individual mode so you can turn everything up to +R but keep the steering in Normal or Sport.

Likewise, the aggressive suspension in +R mode is way too firm for the road – it's very much designed for track use.

Sport mode gives you the optimal compromise between performance and comfort. It still controls its body impeccably well, but isn’t dragged around as much through potholes, and doesn’t thud as hard.

For the most part, you’ll probably want to keep the suspension in Comfort mode. When you do, the Type R is firm and controlled, but slightly more compliant over bumps with a touch more body lean when you take a corner at speed.

In any mode, the Type R retains its Touring Car appeal. If you want a hot hatch that’s fast but also comfortable every day, check out the Golf R.

Honda Civic Type R rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

The Type R – like the standard Honda Civic – has a low-slung driving position, but that’s accentuated further by the performance-focused seats. While we’re on the subject, the figure-hugging bucket seats are a masterpiece, and perfectly suit the ethos of the car in look and feel.

Better still, despite not having adjustable lumbar support, they’re surprisingly comfortable and have plenty of adjustment to help you find your perfect driving position. Compared with the Mercedes-AMG A45 S and VW Golf R seats, they're not particularly fancy (you can’t have electric adjustment or built-in heating), but once you’ve in them, we don’t think you’ll care.

When it comes to visibility, it's easy to see out of the front and, even with that huge spoiler strapped to the boot lid, you’ll have no issues seeing out of the rear. Meanwhile, to help you out with parking, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera all feature on the standard equipment list. At night, bright LED headlights ensure that you can see everything.

Inside, you’ll find an interior based on the standard Civic. That’s not a bad thing: it means a clean, uncluttered and user-friendly layout, which gives you physical controls for the air-con and real buttons on the suede steering wheel. We much prefer them to the touch-sensitive ones in the Golf R.

Instrumentation is displayed on a screen behind the steering wheel, with a full 10.2in panel. There’s a row of shift lights above it that light up as you head towards the rev limiter, helping you time that perfect upshift. You also get an audible beep to alert you, for when you’re too busy to keep an eye on the lights.

The full-sized panel provides sufficient clarity, but can't show you a full-width sat-nav map like the Golf R’s can.

More positively, the 9.0in touchscreen infotainment system is better than the one in the Golf R, which can be laggy. The Type R’s menus are more intuitive and easier to use than the VW system, and the one in the Ford Focus ST. There are also physical shortcut buttons that make it easy to hop between the main menus.

You get wired Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay as standard, plus Bluetooth phone connectivity, two USB ports up front and an eight-speaker sound system. 

The Type R is made to feel truly distinct from regular Civics, with racy red suede-trimmed seats, red dashboard inlays, racing car-style steering wheel and smatterings of faux carbon-fibre highlights throughout.

The underlying quality is there, too, because it feels solidly made in the main. In terms of tactility, it's not up to BMW M135i or A45 S standards of material finish, but it's at least as good inside as the Golf R.

Honda Civic Type R interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

As with the standard Honda Civic you’d have to be Hagrid to feel cramped in the front of the Type R – head and leg room are both excellent. What’s more, there’s plenty of storage space, including the usual allocation of cupholders and a good-sized glovebox for your racing mitts.

In the back you'll find much more leg room than in a lot of hot hatches – including the BMW M135i and Mercedes-AMG A45 S – but that sloping roof means head room is a little tight for six-footers. It’s not tiny and two occupants should be perfectly fine, but the Ford Focus ST is better overall.

The Type R also loses out on the standard Civic’s fold down centre armrest and map pocket mounted on the back of the front passenger seat. You do get two cup holders integrated in the middle of the seat base, which also highlights the lack of seating for a middle passenger – the Civic is strictly a four-seater.

The boot is huge by hot-hatch standards and will easily swallow pushchairs, shopping or suitcases. When extra room is needed, you can fold down the 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and they lie completely flat.

Honda Civic Type R interior back seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Price is where the Honda Civic Type R package hits a bit of a roadblock. You see, it’ll cost you more than almost every rival hot hatchback except the Mercedes-AMG A45 S. That’s if you can even get your hands on one at – the number of Type Rs coming to the UK is in the hundreds.

Thanks to those limited numbers, it's likely to hold on to its value better than rivals, helping to keep PCP finance payments competitive (again, if you can find one). Regardless, don’t expect it to be a bargain, even when you compare it to the slightly cheaper 20 Years special edition version of the VW Golf R. Find the lowest prices with our New Car Deals pages.

Don’t expect run-of-the-mill hatchback running costs, either – a 2.0-litre engine that pumps out 300bhp-plus isn’t going to just sip fuel. It’s not shockingly juicy, though, with official figures quoted at a respectable 34.4mpg (combined). That's better than the A45 S but not as frugal as the Ford Focus ST or Golf R. 

In terms of reliability, Honda claimed 12th position out of 32 manufacturers in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey. The standard Honda Civic and the Type R are too new to feature in the survey, but you get a three-year warranty.

As standard, every Type R comes with plenty of equipment, including 19in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, privacy glass, adaptive cruise control, adaptive LED headlights, wireless phone-charging and keyless entry. You also get lots of safety technology, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), traffic-sign recognition, lane-departure warning and automatic high-beam assistance.

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Honda Civic Type R interior infotainment

FAQs

  • Yes. Thanks to the 324bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that sits up front, the Type R will sprint from 0-62mph in 5.4sec. That's not as fast as the Mercedes-AMG A45 S but compared with its two-wheel-drive rivals, the way it gains pace feels rapid.

  • No, it's only available with front-wheel drive. On a dry day, the amount of grip means that's not an issue, but if you want something that’ll be rapid in all weather conditions, have a look at the Mercedes-AMG A45 S and VW Golf R.

  • As is traditional with the Type R, a slick six-speed manual gearbox is your only option. That’s not a bad thing, because it's one of the best available in any car on sale today, including some truly great sports cars.

  • You’ll struggle to find another hot hatchback that has as much body control and ability through corners as the Civic Type R. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that we reckon it will match the pace at which its four-wheel-drive rivals will attack the same corners.

  • This is a hard one. You see, because the new Type R is limited to just a few hundred UK examples, it’ll probably be very difficult – and expensive – to get your hands on one. On the upside, if you can, that exclusivity will mean very slow depreciation.

At a glance
New car deals
Target Price from £49,995
or from £622pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £28,995
RRP price range £49,995 - £49,995
Number of trims (see all)1
Number of engines (see all)1
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 34.4 - 34.4
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 90000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,738 / £3,619
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £3,477 / £7,237
Available colours