Honda has been presenting the Civic Type R in other markets for generations, but it was not until the previous generation Civic, that Honda ultimately resolved to bring its legendary hot hatch to the U.S. The last-gen Civic Type R was a bold and attractive hot hatch that merged expressive styling and remarkable performance in a pragmatic package. Now we are introduced to the revamped 2023 Civic Type R, which enhances the successes of the prior generation while addressing some of the issues we didn’t favor.
The primary problem with the prior generation Civic Type R was its polarizing “boy racer” styling that was so bold, it was easy to be put off by its exaggerated appearance. Honda has corrected this with the 2023 Civic Type R, which embodies a considerably more mature and also modest look than its forerunner. The new Type R also has a more grounded appearance on the road, given its increased length, width, and lower stature compared to the previous model.
Within the Civic Type R’s cabin, there is a heightened sense of luxury compared to the previous iteration, owing to higher quality materials and a more enticing design. The front sport seats serve to securely hold your body in position, while also being comfortable enough for daily driving. Our only criticism is that the rear seats do not exhibit the same quality and appeal as the front seats. Additional Type R exclusive features encompass a more substantial steering wheel, an aluminum shifter, and metallic detailing on the center console.
In front of the driver, there is a distinct digital gauge cluster, which alters the display of information based on the selected drive mode. In the most sporty +R mode, there is also an LED shift light that activates at the top to assist in locating the optimum shift points. At the heart of the dashboard, you will find the same 9-inch infotainment system seen in other Civic models, but it includes a unique Performance Monitor that showcases real-time information, such as a g-meter, lap timer, and other vital details from the powertrain.
Moving on to the performance enhancements, the 2023 Civic Type R is powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as the previous generation, but now it delivers 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, representing a boost of 9 hp and 15 lb-ft over the former Type R. Similarly to before, the power is directed to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission with automatic rev matching, which Honda claims is 10 percent speedier than before. Around town, there is a slight delay in the turbo below 2,000 rpm, but beyond that, the engine springs to life with an extensive power band. A familiar criticism of the previous Type R was its sound, which remains somewhat of an issue with the new model, as it doesn’t produce a sound as alluring as the Toyota GR Corolla.
Honda did not just limit the enhancements to the powertrain, as the new Civic Type R also received several chassis improvements to enhance its agility around the track. The steering is more responsive with improved feedback, and the suspension has also been slightly adjusted. In Comfort mode, the suspension is not overly firm for everyday driving, but when the sportier +R mode is selected, everything tightens up. The Type R thrives when being driven assertively and effortlessly encourages more spirited driving as you navigate through back roads.
When it’s time to temper the enthusiasm, the four-piston Brembo brake calipers and 13.8-inch front rotors comfortably bring the car to a halt. The 19-inch wheels are equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, while Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires are also available. Grip is scarcely a concern, even with the significant power directed to the front wheels. Additionally, there is minimal torque steer, a situation that would typically be expected with such power at the front. The Civic Type R is unequivocally one of the finest, if not the finest, front-wheel-drive cars on the market.
The previous Civic Type R did not have many competitors, but this has changed with the arrival of the Hyundai Elantra N and Toyota GR Corolla. Both competitors are impressive, but the Type R enjoys an advantage over the Elantra N due to its less versatile trunk, and over the GR Corolla due to its snugger interior. The GR Corolla is undeniably the closest rival to the Civic Type R and offers a feature that the Honda does not, all-wheel drive.
Now for the pricing, the 2023 Honda Civic Type R is solely available in one trim level and starts at $44,390, including destination charges. This surpasses the starting price of the GR Corolla, which commences at $36,995. However, it is important to note that the Type R boasts more standard equipment than the base GR Corolla Core model. Additionally, the Civic Type R’s interior exudes a more luxurious ambiance than the GR Corolla. The better equipped GR Corolla Circuit Edition starts at $43,995.
At the end of the day, enthusiasts may yearn to spend the majority of their time behind the wheel of a sports car, but the truth is that practicality also plays a role, necessitating the ability to carry more than one passenger and provide cargo space. This is what renders the 2023 Honda Civic Type R perfect; it embodies the essence of a sports car, yet functions as a practical vehicle with four seats and ample cargo space. For those who cherish the pleasures of driving and can only opt for one vehicle, the Civic Type R should undeniably be at the pinnacle of their considerations.
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