Honda Civic Type R Review 2023

Lawrence Allan

Written by Lawrence Allan

heycar ratingRare and expensive... but brilliant
  • 2023
  • Hot Hatch
  • Petrol

Quick overview


  • Probably the most thrilling hot hatch on sale
  • Epic performance but easy to live with
  • Less divisive design and nicer cabin than old car


  • A four-wheel drive rival is much more capable in bad weather
  • It's pretty long and wide for a hot hatch
  • Expensive, and limited availability

Overall verdict on the Honda Civic Type R

"The Honda Civic Type R is a hot hatch legend that's back for what could be its last battle with the affordable performance car elite. Fast, properly exciting and more usable than you might think, it's also no longer an acquired taste to look at and nicer to sit in. But there's now some big obstacles to buying one, which we'll explore in this 2023 Honda Civic Type R review."

Honda Civic Type R Review 2023 front driving

'Subtle', 'under-the-radar', 'discreet'. These are words and phrases that absolutely nobody used when describing the last two or three generations of Honda Civic Type R. 

These previous Type Rs were hot hatchbacks that weren't afraid to shout about it. And while that grew a dedicated fanbase, many people were put off by the 'in-your-face' design and associate image that goes with shouty, aggressive-looking cars. It reminded us of cars like the old Subaru Impreza WRX and Mitsubishi Evos - loved and hated in near-equal measure. 

Honda obviously thought it was time the silliness was dialled down a bit for a more mature, universally appealing look, like the standard (and rather excellent) new Civic on which it's based. This new 'FL5' generation is still recognisably a Type R, but with a softer and more rounded design that should draw in a wider audience. Shouldn't it? 

Well, no it won't. Partly because it now starts at an eyebrow-raising £47,000, but mainly because production numbers have been severely restricted. You can blame emissions rules and supply issues for this, with Honda admitting individual European markets will only see a few hundred examples at best. The same problem applies to the fantastic, but doomed to be rare, Toyota GR86 sports car

But hey, at least there actually is a new Honda Civic Type R. The brand could've easily just killed it to focus its resources on electric cars and hybrids, and probably will do after this one. Meanwhile, the recipe under the skin hasn't changed that much either.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that powers the hot Civic is familiar, but there's been loads of little mechanical tweaks to improve power, efficiency and response. Now putting out 329PS, it's the most powerful front-wheel drive production car on sale. Mated to one of the sweetest manual gearboxes around (with tweaks to make it even better), it rips through gears and delivers plenty of potency across the rev range.

But there's more to the new Civic Type R than just the engine. The old car was already a sublime handling car, but Honda has improved it in lots of areas. We could bore you to death with the detail but highlights include a more rigid body, sharper and more direct steering, suspension fettling to make it more stable at high speeds, new ducts to keep the brakes cool on track and improved aerodynamics. Oh, and you get more configurable drive modes, too.

All of this results in something that feels like a mini touring car, particularly on track. We got several laps of a high-speed circuit and despite treacherous conditions, the way you can build cornering speed and confidence in the car is uncanny. And while it's less playful and grown-up than something like a Ford Fiesta ST, these initial impressions show immense capability and engagement. However, with no all-wheel drive it still really struggles to put its power down in the wet, so if you want crushing all-weather pace a Volkswagen Golf R is far superior. 

Happily, the new Honda Civic Type R is still pretty easy to live with, with adaptive dampers taking the edge off the ride around town, decent (if not class-leading) refinement and a spacious, high-quality cabin. Just like the regular Civic it's well-made and logically laid out, while the new infotainment system is much better than the old car. You even get a massive boot. 

Is this the hot hatch of the moment? Or are its talents outshone by the price and the difficulty buying one? Read on to find out. 

Looking for a used car for sale? We've got 100s of Honda Approved Used Cars for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of Honda Civic Type R cars for sale. Looking for the older model? You'll want our Honda Civic Type R (2017-2021) Review.

The new Honda Civic Type R is likely to be right for more people than the old one, simply because it looks less like the driver spends Saturday night revving it in a McDonald's car park. If you'll forgive the stereotype. 

The more mature looks don't mean a duller driving experience, as it's still a riot. Plus, it could genuinely be used as your only family car with a spacious cabin and big boot. However, if you spend a lot of time in wet and icy conditions a VW Golf R or Audi S3 is much more surefooted. 

There's only one version of the new Civic Type R as things stand, and given the limited production run we're unlikely to see a more subtle 'Sport Line' version this time. We may well see a lighter, pricier Limited Edition model return in due course.

Right now you only have a choice of colours and option packs. The most significant one is the Carbon Pack which (you guessed it) gives you a carbonfibre rear wing and cabin trim bits. At £3265 on top of an already pricey car we'd say it's not worth it, though. 

Honda reckons the new Civic Type R competes with 'premium' hot hatchbacks like the Audi S3, Mercedes-AMG A35 and BMW M135i. It's certainly fast enough to do so, but the lack of four-wheel drive makes it less of an all-rounder and the badge won't appeal to as many image conscious buyers. 

It's closer in spirit to cheaper (but slower) models such as the VW Golf GTI Clubsport, Ford Focus ST and Hyundai i30N, however. All of these are fun front-wheel drive models and a fair bit more affordable, but they aren't as impressive to drive. Perhaps closest in terms of the driving experience is the Renault Megane R.S, which is certainly fun but is compromised in ride comfort and cabin quality. 

Comfort and design: Honda Type R interior

"The last Honda Civic Type R had a decent cabin but woeful infotainment. This new one has an even better cabin and much more user-friendly infotainment. It also remains one of the most spacious hot hatchbacks money can buy."

Honda Civic Type R Review 2023 cabin

The standard Honda Civic already has a pretty low-slung driving position, but that's enhanced even further in the Type R thanks to a pair of brilliant sports seats up front. Nicely trimmed in red Alcantara, they look great, are really supportive and - although we've not done a long trip in it yet - should be comfortable for big motorway journeys. 

The wider driving position is near-perfect, too. While there's no electric adjustment or heating (a pity) the manual adjustment in the seats and wheel is plentiful, and the pedals are perfectly place. Special mention to the steering wheel, which can also be trimmed in Alcantara and has a lovely thin rim that's great to hold. 

You'll also find new details that you don't get in the regular Civic, such as an aluminium gearknob and pedals. Of course there is no manual in the standard hybrid-only Civic, but we'd question why anyone would want an automatic Type R because the gearshift is just about as slick as it gets at any price point. 

Elsewhere it's familiar Civic fare, bar a few new digital dial and touchscreen graphics, plus a drive mode selector on the centre console. Oh, and you also have a numbered plaque with the car's build number on it, just like the old model. Sharing much with the standard Civic means a logical (if unexciting) dash layout with the right mix of physical buttons and tech, as well as a solid feel to everything you touch. 

Forward visibility is pretty good, and thanks to Honda doing away with the fussy two-part rear wing of the old car you get a noticeably better view out the back. It's still not as easy to park as a Golf R with its flat rear-end and much smaller dimensions, but at least rear parking sensors and a reversing camera are standard kit. 

The last Type R was hardly flimsy inside, but the new model pushes fit and finish to new levels. It seems like Honda spent as much time and money making sure the Civic felt premium inside as it did on making it drive well. 

That means you get plenty of soft-touch finishes where you want them to be, impressive panel fit and a solidity to everything you poke and prod. Even switchgear like the climate control knobs that click beautifully as you turn them, and the air vent control stalks that feel substantial, show the attention-to-detail put in.

The optional carbon trim is pretty nice, too, but we're not sure it's worth the extra cash. And although the red front seats and rather bold bright red carpets look distinctive they'll likely show up dirt a lot more quickly than black ones. At least Honda has trimmed the back seats in black fabric so your kids can't mess them up in minutes.

The last Honda Civic Type R's biggest weak point was the infotainment system, which was dated and user-unfriendly when it launched and is well off-the-pace now. Happily things have improved a great deal. 

While not as slick-looking as BMW's system, the new nine-inch touchscreen is intuitive to. use and quick to respond. It's definitely better than you'll find in a hot VW Golf, while physical shortcut buttons make it a doddle to switch between menus. You also get wireless Apple CarPlay, though disappointingly only wired Android Auto for now, alongside USB ports and a wireless phone charging pad.

Having a physical, separate climate control stack is also a nice touch in the days where many brands cram it all into the screen. It's so easy to adjust the temperature or fan position that you barely need to look away from the road. 

Every Type R gets a 10.2-inch digital dial display that's pretty clear and configurable, if not to the same degree as Audi's system and lacking the same sat-nav map detail. We love the shift lights that come on as you near the rev limiter, however. 

We've not had much chance to sample the eight-speaker sound system, but it does a good enough job in the regular Civic. 

There's no beating around the bush: the Honda Civic Type R is rather large for a hot hatchback. Its dimensions are 4594mm in length, 1890mm in width and 1401mm in height, which makes it over 30cm longer and 10cm wider than a VW Golf R, although it is a fair bit lower.

While that doesn't help when parking or placing it on a narrow road, it certainly pays dividends when it comes to cabin space. Six footers will have no trouble at all up front, and even this 6ft 3in tester with a bulky helmet on for track work found no issues at all. 

Similarly the rear is pretty cavernous. You'll have legroom to spare even with tall folk, and no other hot hatch manages to be this commodious, even if there is a little sacrifice in headroom to make for that sloping, almost coupe-like roof. There is one big negative, though - you lose the centre seat on the bench. We're not sure why because it's plenty wide enough, but Honda doesn't give you a centre seatbelt and there's cupholders indented into the seat. 

Still, the boot is big by hot hatch standards. Honda quotes a 410-litre boot capacity, but you'd swear it was more than that by looking at it, while the handy pull-out parcel shelf remains from the regular Civic. The seats fold in a 60/40 split to unlock a 1212-litre space. 

Handling and ride quality: What is the Honda Civic Type R like to drive?

"Nowhere more than on the road does the Honda Civic Type R's depth of engineering shine. Razor-sharp, engaging handling combines with a firm but controlled ride and a simply stonking engine and gearbox combo. You get what you pay for... "

Honda Civic Type R Review 2023 rear driving

Is the new Honda Civic Type R in a completely different league to the old car when it comes to ride and handling? No, not really, but all the little changes add up to a seriously capable car on these initial impressions. 

We say initial impressions, because while we got plenty of track time to explore the limits of the car's grip, power and balance, our drive on the road was marred by torrential rain, standing water and floods. We'll endeavour to try one in the dry to give a more thorough road verdict.

What we can tell you so far is that the new model doesn't feel like a transformation over the old one. Is that a negative? Maybe, if you were hoping for a great advance to justify the price. But it's clear that lots of under-the-skin work has gone in to make everything a little bit better, and it's noticeable. 

On track, driven back-to-back with the old car, two things are apparent: firstly, that the old car is still so good Honda could've just updated the styling and still lead the class. And secondly: the new car is even more enjoyable to drive. 

With a stiffer body along with a wider track and lower centre of gravity the 2023 Civic Type R sets new standards for body control. Put simply: there's barely any roll or dive under braking, and it feels so locked in to the line you choose and stable at high speed that you'd swear it had been set up purely for track driving. The steering is a joy, too; super precise, direct and full of feel. 

Front-end grip has increased, too - certainly in the wet at least - meaning when you want it to carve a faster and faster line through the bend it will. Yet if you want the back-end to swing round and tighten your line (or just make you feel like an oversteer hero) it will readily oblige. In short: baulk at the price all you want, there are performance cars costing twice as much that are nowhere near as fun to drive. 

Perhaps the biggest advance over the old car is the (finally) configurable drive modes. This means that, alongside the already defined 'Comfort', 'Sport' and '+R' modes for the engine, steering, suspension and engine sound you can individually tweak each category to have, say, the comfiest ride and raciest engine mode for example. It was a bugbear in the old car that's now fixed. 

So is it too compromised for the road? Nope - if anything it's actually more grown-up than before. Sure, stick everything into +R and it's way too stiff for a busy, bumpy country lane, but with the suspension in Comfort or Sport there's a decent level of compliance that means you notice the bumps but don't wince at them. 

Sadly out biggest hindrance to enjoyment on the road was the wet conditions. The Civic Type R might be more engaging and less one-dimensional than four-wheel drive alternatives but it's definitely more challenging, too. It's pointless flooring it in first and second when it's really wet because it'll just spin most of that power away, and stamping on the throttle on the exit of the bend just causes you to wash wide. Our suspicions are that in the dry this thing is an absolute missile, but we can't say for sure yet.

The latest Honda Civic Type R doesn't reinvent the wheel when it comes to the engine. But then it didn't need to, because the old car already had one of the most exciting hot hatch engines around. 

So that familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged VTEC engine remains, with some fettling to make it both more efficient and more powerful than before. Power is up to 329ps (from the old car's 320) and torque moves up another 20Nm to 420Nm. 

The result is a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds - deeply impressive for a front-wheel drive car - and an entirely believable top speed of 171mph. The top speed figure tells you more than the acceleration figure, though, because while four-wheel drive rivals beat the latter they can't match the former. 

The Civic Type R feels immensely quick, then, no matter whether you're pushing it to the limit on track or brushing the throttle on the road. A few dual-clutch automatic rivals are probably quicker point-to-point but don't feel it because the power delivery is so linear and the 'box slurs shifts so undramatically. The Civic, however, starts off with a bit of low-rev lag but builds power strongly to a crescendo, egging you on to rev it as far as it'll go. Across the board it responds more keenly than before.

It even sounds pretty good, too. Alright, it's not a patch on the manic scream of the old, non-turbo Type Rs, but some engine sound generation through the speakers helps add some theatre and varies depending on drive mode. If you don't like that, you can turn it off because the drive modes now offer near-endless customisation. There's three settings for the sound and three for the throttle response, and you can mix and match as you please. 

Helping add to the engagement is that fantastic manual gearbox. Honda has made it even more slick than the previous models, and it's just lovely to use, with a short throw and pleasing action. Rev matching tech means it'll blip the throttle when you downshift, which is satisfying too. Bar one or two exceptions we don't think there's a much better manual gearbox out there. 

There's a little sacrifice to make in refinement over the regular Honda Civic for the Type R, but it's not suddenly ear-splittingly noisy. Sure, the engine note is ever-present, but it's muted enough at a cruise, although the short gearing means sixth gear is pulling higher revs than top gear in many rivals. 

Wind noise is fine, but road noise is fairly noticeable thanks to the wide wheels and tyres. Again, it's not massively intrusive, though. 

You get the same roster of safety kit in the Honda Civic Type R as the standard Civic. That means automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection (including a heated camera to make it work in winter), road departure mitigation, lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition and intelligent speed assist, which will read speed limit signs and bring your cruise control speed down to match.

Adaptive cruise control is standard, too, as is Traffic Jam assist (low-speed auto cruise), blind spot monitoring and auto high beam. 

With a full suite of airbags and that stiffer structure, the latest Honda Civic achieved the maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating.

MPG and fuel costs: What does the Honda Civic Type R cost to run?

"A hot hatch with a highly-tuned engine is never going to be super frugal, but the Honda Civic Type R's efficiency is decent on paper."

Honda Civic Type R Review 2023 seats

It's improved a little over the old model, managing 34.4mpg on the official WLTP combined cycle. That's not quite as impressive as a VW Golf R, but we reckon it's a small price to pay for a more characterful and exciting engine. 

Real MPG economy numbers show the previous Honda Civic Type R actually beat its average figure at 37.2mpg. It also means you should see around 370 miles from a full tank without the risk of running dry.

If reputations are anything to go buy then we'd expect the Honda Civic Type R to be reliable, providing the maintenance schedule for that highly-strung engine and gearbox is stuck to rigidly. We've not heard of any major issues with the previous model, which shares similar basic mechanicals, and that basic engine has been around for years. 

Honda just finished outside the top 10 in the latest Satisfaction Index with a score of 89.7, which beats almost all premium brand rivals. 

The new Honda Civic Type R jumps up three insurance groups from the previous model, sitting at group 43. That'll be due to the higher price and slightly higher performance. It's noticeably higher than an Audi S3, which sits in group 31 in its base form.

The Honda Civic Type R is slightly less emitting than the old model, meaning it sits in a lower road tax (VED) bracket and saves about £500 for the first owner in the first year rate. Granted it's still £945 in that first year, but that's in line with rivals. 

The main issue is that the list price is over £40,000, meaning another £355 a year charge is added on top of the standard rate for five years until it goes down to the £165-a-year flat rate.

How much should you be paying for a used Honda Civic Type R?

"Brilliant though the new car is, it's difficult to recommend on value terms given the nearly-as-great old car starts from £25,000 used."

Honda Civic Type R Review 2023 side driving

That £25k starting price for a used Honda Civic Type R gets you a 2017 model with 42,000 miles on the clock. A 2021 car with about 6000 miles is £35k.

We're stalling a bit until we remind you just how much the new car costs: its starting price is £46,995, which is a big jump over that old model regardless of how you spin it. With a few options that's a £50k-plus Honda Civic. Yikes. Regardless, if you haven't registered your interest yet you'll find it very hard to get a build slot for one anyway. 

The upside? That limited production run means excellent predicted residual values. That translates to a competitive representative PCP figure of £499 a month, albeit with a hefty £11,000 deposit and 8.9% APR. In short, a Hyundai i30N might not be as complete, but it's much better value. 

Even worse news for used buyers is that, because only a few hundred will come to the UK, demand will far outstrip supply and you'll likely pay even more than list to get a year-old example in time. 

As things stand there is only one version of the Honda Civic Type R available to buy, but it comes comprehensively equipped. 

You get matt black 19-inch alloys, LED headlights with auto high-beam, the full infotainment suite, dual-zone climate control , keyless entry, wireless hone charging front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, sports seats, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and the Honda Sensing package.

This brings a roster of safety kit including collision avoidance and autonomous braking, lane keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition and blind spot monitoring. 

The only options are a range of paint colours (£650), the £3265 Carbon Pack and the Illumination Pack, which for £1,110 brings footwell lighting, backlit door lining, illuminated cupholders and a special Type R exterior projector light.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Brace yourselves: the new Honda Civic Type R starts at £46,995. That's an awful lot of money for a Civic, even one as good as this. With fast Mercedes-AMG, BMW M and Audi S models well within reach it's a hard sell for 'normal' people, but enthusiasts will love this car's engineering, superb drive and rarity.
We would say yes, absolutely. The regular Civic is a sensible, practical and reliable car, and although the Honda Civic Type R turns the performance, handling and visual aggression up to 11, you still get the same amount of usability. It manages to be amazing fun to drive but surprisingly easy to live with.
Unless your day job involves piloting a Eurofighter at Mach 1.5, you'll find the Honda Civic Type R is a very fast car. 171mph in a hot hatchback is no mean feat, and while four-wheel drive rivals get off-the-line quicker it'll still do 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds.

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