The last Honda Civic Type R won countless hearts as one of the most capable hot hatches around. Can this new generation shape up to the lauded reputation?
- Incredibly focused driving experience
- Interior feels special
- Useable every day
- Lack of a real spare tyre
- Aural character could be enhanced
- Big price jump from predecessor
To the Honda fans reading this review, I don’t have to explain how important it is that a new Honda Civic Type R is upon us. You and I both know that a Type R is one of the fastest hot hatches around, and this sixth generation promises more in just about all areas.
To the uninitiated, the previous-generation Honda Civic Type R of four years ago was widely regarded as one of the best front-wheel-drive hot hatches and won multiple awards as a result. We love it here at Drive, and have been waiting with bated breath for its successor to arrive on our shores.
Drawing on a 26-year heritage of quick Civics before it and 31 years of Type R overall, the 2023 Honda Civic Type R has a lot to live up to.
How much does the Honda Civic Type R cost in Australia?
The eleventh-generation Honda Civic made its Aussie debut last year, but this is the sixth-generation Type R version. As you can see, compared to its predecessor the new Type R is far less outlandish in terms of design. It’s wider, longer, and the wing at the back isn’t nearly as full-on. Though it still does stand out a fair bit.
Unfortunately for Honda enthusiasts, it’s more expensive – to the tune of around $12,000. There are four colours to choose from overall, which all cost the same amount of money, and this Rally Red example costs $72,600 drive-away. This is the price every single buyer will pay nationwide, with Honda’s controversial agency-style no-negotiation sales model, which results in each buyer paying the exact same price country-wide.
Though it’s far more expensive than the old one, Honda isn’t the only one to raise prices of its performance car. Rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf R are now over $70,000 on the road, while Toyota’s new GR Corolla costs $62,300 plus on-road costs, or closer to $68,000 drive-away (depending on where you live).
But, Honda doesn’t leave you high and dry. There are a smattering of highlights inside and out, starting with a mechanical limited-slip differential, adaptive dampers, 265mm-wide Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres, an active exhaust outlet, and rev-matching.
There are requisite red badges to signify a Type R, while the outside also gets 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, functional aerodynamics through the front grille, and a triple exhaust set-up integrated within a large rear diffuser.
The entire package is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that sends 235kW and 420Nm through the front wheels. The only transmission available is a six-speed manual. But more on that later.
How much space does the Honda Civic Type R have inside?
There is no missing the gargantuan red bucket seats situated in the front row. They’re heavily bolstered and covered in a grippy suede-like material that makes certain your bum won’t slide about through successive high g-force corners. I’m quite tall at around 194cm but the form-fitting seats held me in place well. Though, I would prefer if the seat were slightly lower and the steering wheel slightly higher.
The red theme extends right down to the carpeting, which is also bright red. I think it’ll be a love-it-or-hate-it affair, but I personally think it makes the car feel special and adds to the occasion every time you jump in for a drive. It’s this attention to detail that is persistent throughout the cabin – the touchpoints you actually use have been considered and wrapped with nice-feeling materials.
For example, the cold, hard metallic gearshifter feels fantastic in hand, while the suede-effect steering wheel is lovely to handle. Even small details such as the metal door handles or the metallic dual-zone climate controls feel good to use, while the door cards feature the same suede-esque fabric.
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Integrated within the dash is a mesh inlay that looks cool, especially with the Type R build plate on the left-hand side. In terms of storage there’s a pair of cupholders in the centre console, a centre console bin, a tray beneath the dash with a wireless phone charger, and wide door bins in each door. There are also two USB-C ports and a 12-volt outlet for powering devices.
It’s an intimate space and you’re situated fairly close to the car’s interface, but that’s what I tend to look for in a serious performance car like the Type R. The infotainment display is at hand, the digital instrument cluster is right in front of your face, and there’s even a set of shift lights atop the cluster that you can’t miss.
There is little in the way of amenities in the second row, just a pair of cupholders where the fifth seat would be. The Type R is limited to four people. No air vents are in the back, no map pockets, and the upholstery is black instead of the bright red. There is good knee room behind the front seats, though the heads of taller passengers will be constrained by the roof line. While you miss out on a fifth passenger, there is at least good room side-to-side as a result.
Use the convenient handle (wing) to open up the rear hatch and find a 410L load capacity. It can expand to 1212L with the 60/40-fold rear seats down. Also, there’s a slide-across cargo blind to keep your valuables hidden from prying eyes. However, there is no spare tyre – just a tyre repair kit.
|2023 Honda Civic Type R|
|Boot volume||410L seats up
1212L seats folded
Does the Honda Civic Type R have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?
The 9.0-inch infotainment screen atop the dash is easy to use thanks to prominent shortcuts both on the screen and beside it. Wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto are present, or you can make do with the system’s own functionality with things like digital radio and native satellite navigation.
Honda’s graphics and displays show in an appealing fashion, while navigation throughout the various menu systems is responsive and intuitive thanks to an easy tile format.
The digital cluster in front of the driver is configurable in myriad ways to show information such as a g-meter, boost pressure, temperatures, song information, and trip data. The screen can display either dials or bars for things like rev-counting or a speedometer. Put the car in full R+ mode and the display changes again for an all-enveloping performance screen best suited to a single-focused track experience.
Embedded within the system is Honda’s cool LogR track data recorder function that can convey information like cornering g-forces, oil pressure and temperature, vehicle location, and driver performance on a closed road. It’ll connect to a phone app so that drivers can monitor their own performance after the fact, which is a cool add-on for such a focused performance car.
The Type R also features Honda Connect, taking the smartphone connectivity beyond the track with functions like, vehicle location, recent trip history, remote air-conditioning, lights and door lock controls, and more. Access to Honda Connect is complimentary for five years.
Is the Honda Civic Type R a safe car?
The 2023 Honda Civic Type R isn’t currently rated by ANCAP, neither is the non-Type R Civic it’s based on. Some manufacturers of lower-volume performance cars opt against ANCAP testing, often due to cost.
It features front-, side- and full-length curtain side-impact airbags. It also gets new driver and passenger knee airbags.
|2023 Honda Civic Type R|
What safety technology does the Honda Civic Type R have?
Despite lacking an official ANCAP safety rating, the Civic Type R scores an array of Honda Sensing active safety measures in addition to the passive inclusions such as airbags. As standard, the Type R receives autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition, a reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The lane-keep assist tech can combine with the adaptive cruise control to take over the bulk of freeway driving and keep you within the lane markings, so long as you’ve got your hands on the steering wheel.
Adaptive cruise control is well judged by the car, which keeps a sizeable distance to the vehicle in front and holds you within a lane just fine. The car will speed up and slow down relative to the vehicle ahead.
Unfortunately, the camera quality for the reversing camera system is low quality, though it’s better than having nothing at all.
How much does the Honda Civic Type R cost to maintain?
Honda provides five years of warranty for the Civic Type R with an unlimited-kilometre stipulation. However, this isn’t the case for Type Rs used in a commercial setting (taxi, ride share, delivery, courier, etc), which is only warranted to five years/140,000km. That said, we can’t imagine too many Type Rs being used under those circumstances.
There’s also five years of premium roadside assistance included as standard.
Included with the car is a five-year subscription to Honda Connect, which enables you to connect with your car through a phone-based application. Free map updates for five years are also included.
The car should be serviced every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever is first. It’ll also tell you when the car requires new oil with a small light within the instrument cluster.
Servicing will cost $199 at each of the first five visits. This means three years costs $597 and five years costs $995. That’s way more affordable than the Hyundai i30 N (which costs $1675 over five services) or the Volkswagen Golf R (which costs $4056 over five services).
The Honda Civic Type R costs $2040 per year to insure based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. This is more expensive to insure than we’ve found for the VW Golf R in the past ($1508) and the Hyundai i30 N ($1334). Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.
|At a glance||2023 Honda Civic Type R|
|Warranty||Five years, unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$597 (3 years)
$995 (5 years)
Is the Honda Civic Type R fuel-efficient?
Honda suggests the new Civic Type R consumes fuel at an 8.9L/100km rate on a combined cycle. Our testing found it didn’t hit that figure exactly, instead returning a 10.0L/100km rating across a course of freeway and dynamic road testing.
It’s rated to accept 95-octane fuel and features a 47L fuel tank.
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||8.9L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||10.0L/100km|
|Fuel type||95-octane premium unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||47L|
What is the Honda Civic Type R like to drive?
Even from the beginning, with mundane efforts like getting inside the cabin and slowly setting off with mild inputs, it’s clear the Civic Type R means business. The steering feels weighty and meaningful, the throw of the gearshift is precise and intentional, and the throttle inputs result in a defined engine rev.
Accelerate up to speed and there’s a gritty feeling as you hear the mechanics underneath whirr and clunk to work together and put power down to the road. It’s not quite the same raw and unrefined quality you’d find in something like a Porsche 911 GT3, but it’s on the same plane. This car is designed to go fast, everything else is considered afterwards.
While the powertrain has been largely pinched from its predecessor, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo unit in the new Civic Type R does employ subtle tweaks such as a more compact turbocharger to improve overall efficiency and reduce lag, and features enhanced cooling techniques.
There’s a wider front air inlet with a larger radiator to improve cooling, and a new lighter flywheel too. The driver can choose between Eco, Comfort, Sport and +R driving modes, while there’s also provision to create your own Individual driving mode too.
Pin the throttle in any one of the modes and the subsequent power delivery is immense, but you’ll have to dial it all the way up to +R mode for full aural entertainment. The switchable exhaust does lack the outright character you’d like to see in such a hard-edged setting, but the car does exude grin-inducing turbo whooshes that filter through to the cabin.
In any case, performance from the engine is seriously impressive. The 265mm-wide tyres are deftly capable of deploying all 235kW/420Nm down to the ground, only coming slightly unstuck by torque steer in the worst conditions.
An engaging six-speed manual gearbox is the only way to pedal this hi-po hot hatch and it feels brilliant to use. It’s precise and snicks into gear with ease, while even the pedals are well placed for executing heel-toe downshifts. While the car does its own rev-matching if you want it to, the engine’s alarmingly quick response to a throttle prod makes it easy to do yourself. The clutch is high-biting, which makes it painless to drive in traffic and the drivetrain is generally unfussed by quick gear changes whether you’re driving mundanely or at a clip.
Steering is wholly direct and feelsome, the front tyres doing well to not only put power down to the ground, but also translate what’s going on underneath. Wrangle the steering into a bend and the Civic follows keenly. It’s unfazed by mid-corner bumps that could upset the balance of others and tracks through cleanly without noticeable body roll.
The way it changes direction is beautiful, but there’s limited playfulness to the chassis, the Civic instead focuses on carrying speed through round corners without flair or drama.
Braking performance is unrelenting no matter how many times you lean on the four-piston Brembo callipers. There’s an initial grab that inspires confidence in their ability to wash off speed, but the stopping power doesn’t lose effect until you come to a halt.
The adaptive dampers firm up progressively in Sport and +R modes. Sport is the happy medium and firm enough for sports driving, but the suspension becomes uncomfortably firm in the all-out +R setting. In Comfort, the suspension is relatively relaxed and can absorb major bumps without upsetting cabin ambience.
|Key details||2023 Honda Civic Type R|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol|
|Power||235kW @ 6500rpm|
|Torque||420Nm @ 2600–4000rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Spare tyre type||Tyre repair kit|
Should I buy a Honda Civic Type R?
I’m not going to beat around the bush. Much like its predecessor, this new Civic Type R is one of the best performance cars on sale. Period.
It is so insanely purposeful and tactile in just about every respect. The steering is direct, the levels of grip make it unshakeable on a back road, it pulls like an absolute freight train, and the handling qualities are some of the best this side of $100,000. Honda has made but the subtlest of improvements all round to make an incrementally better hot hatch.
All this performance isn’t at the expense of everyday drivability either, which makes this a compelling package. It shouldn’t be relegated to the garage until the weekend, as it’s easy enough to live with day to day.
It is pricey, but with a wait list that already stretches two years, it’s well worth waiting for. We’ve only just given it back to Honda, but I’m already counting down the days until we can have another go.