Honda Civic Type R (2015-2017) Review

Written by Andrew Brady

8/10
heycar ratingFast, extreme and very exciting
  • 2015
  • Hot hatch
  • Petrol

Quick overview

Pros

  • Rabid performance
  • Pin sharp handling
  • Roomy cabin and boot

Cons

  • Wearing to drive over long distances
  • Aggressive looks
  • Uncompromising ride

Overall verdict on the Honda Civic Type R

"In this Honda Civic Type R review we are looking at one of the most outrageous hot hatches of its day. It might have only been on sale for a couple of years, but it sent shockwaves through the segment on account of its powerful engine, outlandish looks and focussed driving experience. If anything it was a bit too focussed: pin-sharp handling came at the expense of a comfortable ride, but the Honda Civic Type R is every inch a genuine hot hatch."

Honda Civic Type R (2015-2017) Review: exterior front three quarter photo of the Honda Civic Type R

This is one of the most engaging, enjoyable and exciting cars ever to enter the hot hatch arena. It does come with a caveat though because it's far from cheap to run and possibly a little too hardcore for some and it lacks the adjustable character of the car that replaced it.


Unlike earlier versions of the Honda Civic Type R, this model gained a turbocharger, though Honda still saw fit to install its VTEC variable valve timing system, albeit this time to aid fuel economy. The result is, frankly, a bit mad. The 0-62mph sprint figure of 5.7 seconds doesn’t really do the Honda Civic Type R’s performance justice. On the road, it picks up speed like a high-end sports car, rather than a beefed-up family hatch.


It’s seriously exciting to drive. The steering is precise, sharp and well-weighted, the gear change is satisfyingly slick and there is a huge amount of front end grip. That is thanks, in part, to a mechanical limited-slip differential that does its very best to help the car grip as you power out of corners.


The suspension is very firm, though. In fact, the whole driving experience feels extreme, which is down to the Honda Civic Type R being tough and uncompromising. The seats have hard bolsters that are great for holding you in place, but aren’t ideal for three hours on the motorway, while the clutch is heavy in traffic and the engine is loud on the motorway.


The bodywork is hardly subtle either, which will be very appealing or massively off-putting depending on your tastes – you look like a boy racer and, for better or worse, that's how people will treat you. Still, under all those muscular plastic addenda there is a Civic, so it has a big, usefully shaped boot and two wide-opening rear doors. The back seats are good for adults and it’s easy to fold them down to free up a bit more load space. Which proves that even the most hardcore hot hatch can still work as a practical car.


Officially, the 2.0-litre petrol engine in the Honda Civic Type R is capable of a claimed 38.7mpg, with emissions of 170g/km. For most, those figures probably don’t matter compared to excitement and performance. A Volkswagen Golf R is similarly priced and easier to live with, plus there's the Ford Focus RS that is a quicker cross-country machine in UK weather. Remember, both of these rivals come with four-wheel drive whereas the Honda is front-wheel drive in true hot hatch tradition. 


Some may want the ultimate traction of its rivals, but for those who want a genuinely thrilling, exciting hot hatch, the Honda Civic Type R hits the spot.


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. If you're looking for the newer version, you need our Honda Civic Type R review.

The Honda Civic Type R has always had a reputation as a bit of an extreme choice. This has come down to its engines, which in the past have relied on giddy rev limits to deliver plenty of power and frenetic performance. With this generation of Honda Civic Type R launched in 2015, Honda added a turbocharger to the mix, upping power to 310PS and dropping the 0-62mph time to just 5.7 seconds.


At a stroke, the Civic became the fastest and most extreme hot hatch of the moment thanks to an amazing 167mph top speed. Not too long before it was launched, that was the preserve of Porsche 911s and the like.


Honda didn’t go halves on the styling either as the Honda Civic Type R is festooned with spoilers, lips, skirts and diffusers to help it cut through the air and suck itself to the ground. For some, this is all a bit too 'boy racer', but for others it speaks more of genuine touring car racers.


Step into the Honda Civic Type R and you find a practical, cabin, albeit one with figure-hugging front seats that are more suited to short blasts than long jaunts.

There is only one engine and transmission choice with this fourth generation of Honda Civic Type R. So, you get a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine attached to a slick six-speed manual gearbox.


The bigger decision when choosing which Honda Civic Type R is the one for you is between the standard version and the more generously equipped GT model. All come with 19-inch alloy wheels, suede-effect upholstery, adaptive dampers, climate and cruise controls, 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, automatic emergency brakes, and a reversing camera to overcome that high boot line.


With the GT, you also get added safety kit with forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot warning, auto-dipping headlights, and lane-departure warning. Other upgrades include dual-zone climate control, all-round parking sensors, sat-nav, auto wipers, and electrically folding door mirrors. For us, this extra kit is worth having and seeking out a GT model to get it.

At the extreme end of the hot hatch gene pool, the big fish to rival the Honda Civic Type R are the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R. Both have power outputs of at least 300PS and four-wheel drive, so they can get their power down with less fuss than the Honda, though some will prefer the drama of the Civic and it'll have no problem keeping up with either of them on a country road.


Others to look at include the Renault Megane RS and SEAT Leon Cupra. The Leon is an easier car to live with on longer drives, while the Renault is every bit as hardcore and satisfying on a back road as the Honda and offers the sharpest responses of all the cars here.


Comfort and design: Honda Civic Type R interior

"In the cabin, the most obvious differences between the regular Civic and the Honda Civic Type R are the various red bits. The steering wheel, dashboard and seats are all embellished with red details, plus there is red stitching in the artificial suede upholstery. There is also a set of aluminium pedals and an aluminium gear knob, the latter of which gets alarmingly hot in bright sunshine and freezing cold in winter."

Honda Civic Type R (2015-2017) Review: interior close up photo of the Honda Civic Type R dashboard

The layout is unusual, with a split-level instrument binnacle. The bottom part features the rev counter and the top part has a digital speedometer, which takes a little time to get used to. But material quality is very good, with sturdy plastics used throughout. Overall though it doesn’t feel as plush as German rivals like the Volkswagen Golf R.


The Honda Civic Type R gets some excellent bucket seats as standard. They’re very supportive and surprisingly comfortable, but they have very hard side supports that can prove tricky when getting in and out, especially for those with stiff, aching backs.


Another flaw with the driver’s seat is it doesn’t adjust low enough, so you can feel sat on the car rather than in it, like you should in something this sporty. Further adding to this woe is a steering wheel that, while it adjusts for reach and angle, doesn’t move far enough inwards for some drivers to get fully settled. As for rear vision, the bisected back window makes life more difficult than it should be, though there are rear parking sensors with the GT version to overcome this. 

The Civic Type R is a Honda, so it’s always going to enjoy a very solid quality of construction. That means all of the gaps between panels are even and tight, and there should be no rattles or squeaks to interrupt your time at the wheel.


However, there are a couple of areas where the Honda’s plastics feel more functional than fancy for a car of this price. Also, the big bolsters on the front seats make it tricky to lever yourself in and out and, as a result, they can wear quite quickly on some cars depending on how they have been used.


We’d also make sure to test the car’s gearbox over a variety of roads and conditions as it has been known to suffer from the occasional crunching change from first to second gear, especially before it’s warmed up after a few miles of driving.


There have also been some issues with fuel pumps on this Honda Civic Type R, so feel for any hesitation from the engine under hard acceleration or noises coming from the boot area that suggest the pump is giving up.


Like so many Japanese cars of this era, the Honda Civic Type R’s 7-inch infotainment screen looks like something of an afterthought. There’s little effort made to integrate it into the car’s dash in the way a Volkswagen Golf R does, but at least the screen is easy to read and its icons provide big targets for you to prod with a finger while driving.


It’s also simple to pair your smartphone with the Honda’s infotainment set-up thanks to standard Bluetooth. There are steering wheel controls to manage phone calls without taking your hands off the wheel, while DAB digital radio is included with both the standard and GT models.


Above the Honda Connect infotainment system is the intelligent Multi Information Display. It can show specific Honda Civic Type R data such as acceleration time, turbo boost pressure, lap times, and even G-meter readings to tell how hard the car is driving round a corner. While some might consider this a bit of a gimmick, it does have a useful function to tell the driver oil pressure and temperature details.

If the front of the Honda Civic Type R is dedicated to making you feel like you're driving something sporty, the rear is a lot more like the normal Civic hatch we know and admire. Even with the high-backed sports front seats, there’s still good kneeroom for those who sit in the hind quarters and the Honda Civic Type R is easily one of the most generous in its class for this measurement. There’s also good headroom and decent space for shoulders for a pair of adults to lounge back here.


The middle seat has a large raised cushion that would make it very uncomfortable for anyone to travel on even if there was a three-point seat belt, which there isn't. So, as a result, the Honda Civic Type R is strictly a four-seater, though it does come with ISOFIX child seat mounts on the two rear seats you can use.


Another difference between the Honda Civic Type R and other Civic models aside from the lack of a third rear belt is the shape of the front seats means the R does without the handy Magic Seats. In other Civics, it lets you lift up the seat base to create a large load space separate from the boot, but Honda Civic Type R owners have to forego this function.


Still, they can console themselves with a boot that offers a very generous 477-litres with the rear seats in place. Tip the 60-40 split and fold back bench and you can free up to a maximum of 1210-litres, making the Honda Civic Type R one of most able in its class to carry loads to the refuse dump or carry more stuff back from the DIY store.


The load sill is quite high on the Honda Civic Type R, in common with all Civics of this generation, and there’s fair drop to the load floor. However, the opening itself is broad, square and unhindered, while the floor is a good, regular shape that swallows luggage with a keen appetite for more. Under the boot floor lies a puncture repair sealant kit in place of a space-saver or full-size spare wheel.


The Honda Civic Type R dimensions are 4390mm long, 2065mm wide and 1466mm tall.

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

"The Honda Civic Type R has a +R button that makes the instruments glow red, sharpens the throttle response and stiffens the suspension. Unless you tend to drive on marble-smooth roads, this is better left switched off since the suspension is already firm enough in normal mode, transmitting road imperfections into the cabin with a noticeable thud."

Honda Civic Type R (2015-2017) Review: exterior front three quarter photo of the Honda Civic Type R on the road

Thankfully there is just enough compliance in the suspension to keep comfort levels acceptable for most roads. Even so, the Civic is one of the hardest-riding cars in its sector and makes a Volkswagen Golf R feel positively limousine-like. Be in no doubt, Honda had track day fans in mind when it set up the Honda Civic Type R’s suspension.


Through corners the Honda Civic Type R feels composed and capable even at very high speeds, thanks in part to a limited-slip differential that keeps wheelspin in check and a system that maximises the amount of traction through tight turns. It doesn't intrude on the driving experience though, so the car feels very intuitive to drive hard and fast.


The steering is precise and immediate, providing enough feedback and accuracy to inspire real confidence. Factor in the huge torque output, tremendous brakes and responsive throttle and the Honda Civic Type R feels like a serious, focussed machine. The downside to its uncompromised nature is that it could prove hard to live with every day.


That shows up in town where the ride is prone to picking up on every imperfection and ripple in a way even the Volkswagen Golf R doesn’t. It becomes very wearing after a while, which means the Honda Civic Type R is not a hot hatch to spend prolonged periods in unless you really are a very dedicated owner.

The Civic uses a 2.0-litre VTEC engine, but – in a first for a Honda Civic Type R – it had a turbocharger attached for good measure. As a result, it has a slightly lower redline than the previous generation of Honda Civic Type R. This one hits the limiter at 7000rpm instead of just past a dizzy 8000rpm, but the advantage of the turbo is a wide spread of torque, with 400Nm available from as low as 2500rpm. That makes for on-road pace that puts some sports cars to shame and the Honda Civic Type R is a seriously quick machine.


The power delivery is intoxicating, with a surge of acceleration accompanied by a chirping turbo and a purposeful exhaust note. Gear changes are slick and satisfying in the six-speed manual transmission that is your only option here, plus there is an added element of theatre when pushing hard thanks to F1-style LED rev counter lights on the instrument binnacle.


The +R button sharpens up the reactions of the accelerator pedal, so the Honda Civic Type R feels even more urgent and determined in this mode. The downside is it also firms up the suspension to make the Civic feel too brittle on most roads.


Around town the clutch is heavy, so traffic jams are hard work, while on the motorway the loud engine note just becomes a droning, wearisome irritation.

With firm suspension and big 19-inch alloy wheels shod in slimline low-profile tyres, the Honda Civic Type R is not the most hushed or refined car, even by the standards found at the more extreme end of the hot hatch scale. So, you will have to accept a lot of rumble and roar from the tyres at higher speeds on anything bar a perfectly polished road surface.


You’ll also hear quite a bit of rustle and bustle from the wind as the car picks up speed and all of those wings and spoilers do their stuff. Still, it’s no worse than a Ford Focus RS or Renault Megane RS, which are both also hardcore hot hatches.


The noises from the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine are entirely what you want from a fast-paced machine like the Honda Civic Type R. There are whooshes and chirps from the engine as you accelerate and come off the throttle, and the engine makes a pleasingly hard-edged howl when pressed hard. At a cruise, it’s decently quiet, but then who buys a car like this to potter along in peace and harmony?

The 2015 Honda Civic Type R shares the same solid five-star rating from Euro NCAP for crash worthiness as the rest of the contemporary Civic range. It also comes with twin front, side and curtain airbags, and seat belts for all four occupants but not a fifth belt for a centre rear passenger. There are ISOFIX child seat mounts in the two outer rear seats.


Every Honda Civic Type R comes with automatic emergency brakes to avoid or lessen the effect of a collision at up to 19mph. A reversing camera with display in the dash helps overcome the difficult to see through rear screen. There’s also ESP traction and stability control, but to gain more safety equipment you need to move up to the GT model.


The GT adds all-round parking sensors, as well as automatically dimming headlights and rain-sensing wipers. You also enjoy Adaptive Cruise Control to maintain a set distance from the vehicle in front. Also with the GT model comes Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Information assistance, Cross Traffic Monitor that lets you know of approaching vehicles from the side as you reverse, and Traffic Sign Recognition.


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

"The official claimed combined economy for this Honda Civic Type R was 38.7mpg, which was recorded before the latest WLTP tests. If we look at Real MPG figures, this shows the Honda Civic Type R driver is more likely to expect combined consumption of 35.2mpg, which is very good for a car of this power and pace."

Honda Civic Type R (2015-2017) Review: exterior close up photo of the Honda Civic Type R exhausts

With a 50-litre fuel tank, the Honda Civic Type R has a potential range of more than 350 miles.


The Honda Civic Type R scored a perfect 10 out of 10 for reliability in the HonestJohn.co.uk Satisfaction Survey, although it's worth bearing in mind that because of the sample size not every car is going to be 100% perfect. The Honda Civic Type R is a bit more complex than your average Civic, but as long as it's been cared for you should expect few problems.


As a brand Honda finished a respectable 14th out of 30 manufacturers in the same survey.

Both the Honda Civic Type R and the better equipped GT model sit in the same Group 33 insurance. That’s one group lower than a Volkswagen Golf R and several groups below a Ford Focus RS, so its premiums should be that bit more affordable.


If you find the Honda Civic Type R Black Edition, it sneaks up into group 34 for its insurance ranking.


Most Honda Civic Type Rs of this generation will have been registered before 31 March 2017. That means their 170g/km carbon dioxide emissions attracts an annual Vehicle Excise Duty payment of £265.


If you have an example registered from 1 April 2017, such as the late Black Edition versions, then you will pay 12 months’ road tax at the lower rate of £165.


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

"As the fourth generation of Honda Civic Type R was only made for a very short two-year period, prices between the oldest and newest do not vary wildly. Seek out an early version and £17,000 is the going rate, though mileages will vary between reasonable and excessive for the oldest cars."

Honda Civic Type R (2015-2017) Review: exterior rear three quarter photo of the Honda Civic Type R on the road

If you’d rather have as recent an example as possible, reckon on paying as much as £24,000 for a Honda Civic Type R with less than 20,000 miles on the clock from a franchised Honda dealer.


Regardless of age, almost all used Honda Civic Type Rs from this generation are GT models as most new buyers wanted its higher equipment levels.


The standard version of the fourth generation Honda Civic Type R comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights. You also get sports front seats with artificial suede fabric, alloy pedals and gear knob, shift indicator light, and adaptive dampers linked to +R mode button.


Comfort is taken care of by climate control, cruise control, electric windows, the 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, USB input, Bluetooth, DAB radio, and a reversing camera.


Move up to the Honda Civic Type R GT version and you get a host of extra safety kit that includes forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, and blind spot warning. On top of that, you also get auto-dipping headlights, auto lights, auto wipers, front and rear parking sensors, and electrically folding door mirrors. For a touch of luxury, the GT has satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, and an upgraded audio system.


There was a choice of five paint colours, as well options such as the Red Exterior Pack with red highlights for the door mirror caps, rear diffuser, front grille and roof spoiler. There was a Carbon Exterior Pack that did the same with real carbon fibre detailing.


A Red Interior Pack blinged up the air vents and door sills, while the Carbon option swapped this for carbon fibre effect finishes.


Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Yes, yes they are. 167mph is fast by any measure, never mind for a hot hatchback.
To get a Honda Civic Type R of this generation you'll need to find at least £17,000. The previous generation is available from around £5,000.
It is, but a more important question to ask is 'are you up to owning one?', because this is one of the most extreme hot hatches in the sector. A Volkswagen Golf R is easier to live with on a daily basis, but arguably it can't deliver the same high level thrills as the Honda.

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