Honda Civic Type R review

The new Civic Type R may be among the last of a dying breed, but it’s desperate to leave its mark.

Pros: impressive performance and handling, improved cabin, eye-catching looks

Cons: seats are too hard, high expected price tag, noisy cabin

The Civic Type R is a legend among car enthusiasts, but supply shortages and emissions laws have slowed sales of high-performance hatchbacks to a crawl. Which makes it somewhat surprising that the new Type R, complete with its pointedly hybrid-free powertrain, exists at all. But Honda seems to think it has unfinished business in this market, and the new model is here to refine the already brilliant product.

Honda Civic Type R Design

The new Civic Type R had an instant leg up compared with its predecessor, simply by being based on the new Civic. Modern and stylish, the latest-generation hatchback is a much better looking beast than its forebear. Yet true to the traditions of the Type R, Honda has fettled the shape to make the performance model stand out.

New skirts, bumpers and undertrays have been fitted, along with 19-inch alloys, a triple-outlet exhaust and a massive rear wing, not to mention a new bonnet with a slot in the leading edge. It’s hardly subtle, and Honda says it all serves to improve the car’s aerodynamic properties, but it’s difficult to believe Honda didn’t have one eye on styling with all these features.

The new Type R certainly stands out alongside other hot hatchbacks, and particularly when compared with the more subtle Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R.

Honda Civic Type R Interior

The new Civic Type R also benefits from the cabin it inherited from the latest-generation Civic. Compared with previous models’, it feels vastly more premium thanks to a cleaner and fresher design, as well as improved material quality. And, of course, it’s built with the fastidiousness that’s common to most Honda products.

But like the exterior, Honda has added some trademark dashes of panache to set the new Type R’s cabin apart from the rest. The sporty bucket seats are trimmed in red suede, the gear knob is made from brushed metal and the carpets match the red on the upholstery. Add in a serial plaque on the dash and you’ve got something that feels considerably more special than the standard car, but no less upmarket.

By the same token, the Type R has inherited the Civic’s technology, and while that too is an improvement on what went before, it’s far from perfect. The touchscreen has lots of useful features, but it doesn’t feel especially modern, and the same goes for the digital instrument display that’s fitted as standard.

Practicality is a mixed bag, too, because the new Civic is marginally less spacious than its predecessor in terms of luggage space. Nevertheless, 410 litres of boot space is more than you get in a Golf or a Focus, and it’s only a little less than you got from the old Type R, so the difference is pretty negligible.

Honda Civic Type R Performance & Drive

As before, the Civic Type R is still powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but Honda has tweaked it to produce more power. That means you get 329hp heading to the front wheels via the six-speed manual gearbox, and 0-100km/h takes just 5.4 seconds. Compared with some hot hatchbacks – primarily those with four-wheel drive and automatic gearboxes – that isn’t especially rapid, but it’s still faster than a Golf GTI or a Ford Focus ST. And anyway, performance isn’t all about straight-line speed.

With tweaked suspension, upgraded steering and super-sticky Michelin tyres, the Type R is a joy to drive. It’s cut from much the same cloth as the old Type R, but it offers a little more agility and grip, which makes it feel faster around a race track.

But where the Type R really impresses is with its range of capability. Not only is it brilliant on a track or a back road, but it’s also useful every day. That’s partly down to the drive modes, which include a Comfort setting that’s softer and more supple than the quite hardcore Sport and +R modes. But whatever the reasons, it puts the Type R ahead of its predecessors and some other key rivals.

Of course, the Type R isn’t without its foibles. It isn’t especially quiet – plenty of road noise makes its way into the cabin, possibly because of those massive tyres – the fuel economy isn’t brilliant and the seats are too hard, but the engine is silky smooth and the gearbox is a delight.

Honda Civic Type R Pricing

Honda is yet to confirm prices for the Irish market, but we expect it to be significantly more expensive than the standard Civic e:HEV, which comes in at around €34,000.

Carzone Verdict: 4/5

The Civic Type R won’t be to everyone’s taste, but those who loved the old car will go mad for the new model. It isn’t a massive improvement in terms of handling, but better interior quality and technology will stand it in good stead with customers.

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