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Honda Civic Type R 2023 review

Daniel Gardner

The hot-hatch benchmark returns to reclaim its front-drive performance throne, but can it?

Good points

  • Magnificent handling
  • Gorgeous interior
  • Dynamite engine
  • FWD benchmark
  • Surprisingly good ride
  • Vastly improved looks

Needs work

  • Two-year wait
  • High price
  • Thirst and small fuel tank
  • No sunroof
  • Not as tail-happy as FK8
  • Fake engine sound

The new-generation FL5 2023 Honda Civic Type R has arrived to snatch the crown as the hot hatch king. And it has large rubber boots to fill given it hopes to assume the heroic mantle from its direct FK8 forebear.

It took only two corners aboard the old FK8-generation Honda Civic Type R to realise that it was one of the most spectacular cars I’d ever driven.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 rear 3/4 city

I’d got no further than 100 metres into the Bryant Park Hillclimb course on cold tyres and the now superseded front-driver’s tail was neatly coming around to meet the front.

But while this unplanned manoeuvre would ordinarily end in an excursion to the infield, the old hyper-Civic held a slide like a Mitsubishi Mirage with Macca’s trays under the rear wheels.

With a bit more warmth in the tyres the Pirelli rubber allowed cornering grip that was hard to compute and its unbelievably dialled in front-end stood out from the pack like almost nothing else.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 badge

The previous-generation Civic Type R didn’t really need to get any better.

But we’ve just driven its replacement, the FL5 Type R, and – oh-em-gee – it certainly has.

What are the Civic Type R’s features and options for the price?

For the newest generation Civic Type R, Honda has decided to keep things simple – really simple. The model is on offer in just one level of specification and with no available options. So what you see is what you get.

The asking price is $72,600 driveaway and that includes many of the attractive features debuted by the more affordable grade Civic variants, including a 9.0-inch central touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and cable-connected Android Auto.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 interior

Plus, the Type R fits a 10.2-inch fully digital instrument cluster with customisable display and different graphics depending on the drive mode.

Speaking of which, three driving settings are offered – Comfort, Sport and +R, which is unique to the flagship Civic version. Meanwhile, an Individual mode allows the driver to customise their own settings suite around options for variable throttle response, steering weight, engine sound, suspension stiffness and digital graphics.

As it’s the flagship Type R variant, a selection of exterior enhancements are included for the price clearly setting the high-performance version apart from its 1.5-litre and hybrid siblings.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 wheel

A new 19-inch ‘reverse rim’ alloy wheel is an inch smaller than the previous version but appears larger and more skeletal thanks to the special construction that positions the chunkiest part of the wheel at the back for a more slender and elegant look. Rolling stock is also now lighter, too.

They’re housed in fattened arches with air outlets at the front, which reduce wheel arch air pressure at speed, along with a new front bumper design that reduces drag and increases airflow.

A bonnet vent replaces the previous scoop boosting airflow through the radiators exiting through the vent.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 spoiler

At the back, a large rear spoiler offers more stability than the FK8 and has more slender cast aluminium supports as well as a design that doesn’t obscure the driver’s rearward view.

Colour choice is really your only Type R options and it comes in a choice of four colours: Championship White, Rally Red, Sonic Grey and Crystal Black.

Finally, don’t even think about haggling on the price. A two-year wait has made the Civic Type R a very sought-after car and Honda’s One Price national fixed pricing scheme means all the company’s models cost the same nationwide.

How does the Civic Type R drive?

Whether it’s the very first Type R based on the sixth-generation Civic or any of the five evolutions since, the go-fast model has always been about offering an unforgettable driving experience. And this new version absolutely continues the tradition.

While it may look wildly different from the previous generation, the new FL5 Type R shares some mechanical kit.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 engine

Under its bonnet is essentially the same VTEC Turbo 2.0-litre four cylinder engine, but a revised induction, direct fuel injection, and changes to exhaust and the engine management system has had a dramatic effect in alteration.

Torque is a noticeable 20Nm more muscular and while power has increased by a more modest seven kilowatts, the power delivery has been significantly improved.

Maximum grunt manifests earlier but despite the greater pulling power low down in the revs, the four-cylinder has never been more willing to climb to its 7000rpm redline.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 front 3/4 track driving

We particularly loved the shift light positioned above the driver’s digital instruments and it’s comprised of 12 individual LEDs, rather than being incorporated into the display, for a classic tuner look.

Honda says it addressed a common customer demand and added more exhaust note to the new Type R. And while there certainly is more report it’s not anything as antisocial as the glorious Hyundai i30 N soundtrack.

We also suspect there’s some unwelcome augmented sound being piped in through the stereo – definitely room for improvement here.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 rear country side

What’s great, though, is a much more noticeable hiss from the turbo bypass valve when snapping the throttle closed on full boost. It’s this honest and natural soundtrack we wished Honda had lent more into for the sixth generation.

Unlike some other hot hatch options with similar outputs, Honda is persevering with front-wheel drive for the Type R.

With a revised six-speed manual gearbox, special helical limited-slip differential and some lovely Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, the Honda’s recipe for getting power to the road through just a brace of wheels is mind-blowing.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 shifter

Many high-power FWD models attempt to counter wheel-slip and tram-lining over inconsistent surfaces by winding up the LSD preload but this can exacerbate the arguably more undesirable phenomenon of torque-steer. I’m looking at you Cupra Leon VZx.

However, the Civic’s revised front end is incredibly tied down and manages to find grip on tricky surfaces without firing the nose into the verges with the application of full power.

The onset of boost definitely requires both hands on the wheel, but it’s wonderfully predictable and progressive delivery of peak performance.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 front track driving hill

Mid-corner grip is astonishing and although the front-drive Honda requires late throttle application to effectively get power to the ground, the Type R carries incredible speed through the bends with minimal body roll and impressive body control.

In the wet, the Civic will wheelspin all the way into third but still manages to make good progress thanks to an excellent traction control program. The system works harder in the background than your tyre bill might suggest.

There’s also a perfect balance of steering weight and precision, and grabbing the almost vertically positioned suede-wrapped steering wheel instills a sense of going into battle every time.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 side track driving hill

A revision of the six-speed manual has preserved the mechanical feel of switching gears that the FK8 did so beautifully. The bead-blasted solid aluminium gear knob is cool and heavy in the hand and the ratios are tightly spaced, though it does have a surprisingly long first gear.

Combined with rev-matching and synchromesh on the first ratio, the Civic’s transmission feels as though it was developed to spend as much time on the track as the road. Bemoaning the absence of an auto? You shouldn’t.

There’s more good news when it comes to the third pedal, too. With the new model, a two-piece brake rotor has been introduced on the front axle, reducing unsprung weight along with the lighter wheels. The Type R’s front end has never felt more confident or as dialled in.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 wheel

It might be a matter of preference but the chassis revisions have made the tail end far more planted and that loose nature of the rear tyres when cold is now nowhere near as evident.

Some time on track would allow a complete analysis, but for now the new version seems more pinned down.

An exceptionally good driving position completes the package with excellent bucket seats in the front row. It promotes an unusually reclined posture at the helm and this is something even excellent models such as the i30 N, Ford Focus RS and Audi RS3 never really managed to master.

But the real highlight is a chassis and drivetrain combination that is viciously fast point to point, if without feeling like the limits of grip and performance lie behind a terrifyingly thin veil waiting to evaporate and throw you off a cliff.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 rear 3/4 highway

As if that wasn’t commendable enough by itself, the Honda’s ride quality feels class-leading despite the broadness of its ability when pushing on.

Flick the drive mode to comfort and, while there’s quite a lot of road noise from the low-profile tyres, the ride home is more cosseting than ever before.

What is the Civic Type R’s interior and tech like?

Headlining the Type R’s interior is a black fabric finish for a sporty and high-quality feel, but the outrageous red seats and carpet are the true headline here.

Rear passengers only get black synthetic suede and there are only two seating positions in the second row, but they do get a little more legroom. But any practical compromise is quickly forgotten once you’re sat in the front row.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 interior front 2

Honda says the new interior is ‘redder’ than the previous upholstery and its almost luminous shade is just fantastic.

Like the LX Civic variants, the Type R also benefits from significant visibility improvements including hidden wipers, a lower bonnet, a completely uncluttered windscreen, and door mirrors that are no longer attached to the A-pillar.

It is a noticeable improvement and imparts a wonderful sense of space.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 front seats

As if you needed reminding you are in a Type R, a build plate is attached to the high-quality dashboard on the attractive hexagon mesh grille. For what it’s worth, our test car is number 3704.

Previously, Honda’s LogR track day data logging application was only available via a smartphone paired to the car, but the new generation model now has the feature included permanently in the information system.

It’s an expansive technological inclusion and allows users to record vehicle and performance data in real time.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 touchscreen

A performance monitor, log mode and auto score functions allow the driver to dissect each lap of a track to either compare times, identify opportunities to improve driving technique and monitor a wide range of vehicle parameters.

A few remote-connected features are also included allowing the owner to flash the headlights, turn on the air conditioning or lock/unlock the doors via the Honda Connected application.

Practically speaking, the Type R is a more reasonable proposition than you might expect from something that has such focused athletic ability. Its boot measures 410 litres and can expand to nearly 1000L with the rear seats folded.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 back seat

There’s no space-saver spare wheel and only the horrid sealant and inflator kit but, in true track-day style, Honda has included a spot to carry a full size spare in the boot, complete with a securing point when the floor board is removed (albeit at the sacrifice of the boot space itself).

The Type R doesn’t get the volume-expanding bin under the boot floor that the rest of the range gets as the new three-pipe exhaust occupies the space under the car.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 boot

Is the Civic Type R a safe car?

Honda packages most of its cutting-edge safety features into its Honda Sensing active safety and driver assistance technology.

As one of the brand’s newest arrivals, the Civic range offers a generous selection of kit and this is shared with the Type R.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 side

Features include autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep and road departure mitigation, forward collision and lane departure warning.

The Civic introduced a number of impressive passive safety features with the new model such as an evolved airbag for the two front occupants, which offers better body and head support during deployment. There’s also an outer-lap seatbelt pretensioner for the driver, which reduces chest injuries in an impact, says Honda.

All Civics have a total of ten airbags, which is the highest for the segment.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 front end

A reverse camera is part of the deal, too, but its resolution is a little below par and not representative of the otherwise high-quality finish of the rest of the Civic package.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has not yet evaluated the Civic range, which was introduced in 2021, including the more recent Type R variant.

ANCAP’s European sister organisation, however, awarded the new generation model the full five stars in 2022.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 rear track driving hill

When the previous model was assessed by ANCAP in 2017, the Civic range was awarded the full five stars but the rating did not include the Type R.

An evaluation of the current-generation might also potentially exclude the high-performance halo this time around, too.

What are the Civic Type R’s ownership costs?

It’s easy to forgive a high-performance model such as the Civic Type R for a higher than average fuel consumption in return for impressive acceleration and all-round pace.

During our time with the FL5, it’s onboard computer reported an average of 10.1 litres per 100km, which is on the high side.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 digital dash

However, the not insignificant thirst is combined with an absolutely tiny 47-litre tank capacity, which makes visits to the servo annoyingly frequent. It also demands to be fed premium 98RON fuel, which means the Civic’s diet is an expensive one.

For the record, Honda claims the model is capable of an average of 8.9L/100km, which is still not great, but it’s very easy to forget all about fuel consumption once you hit up the best driving roads.

Like all new Honda models, the Civic Type R is offered a fixed-price servicing schedule. Unlike many other brand’s fixed price deals however, Honda charges the same flat rate for each of the first five scheduled visits.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 front track driving

This charge used to be a bargain $125 per service but as of December 2022, the charge increased to a still below-average $199 for each service.

The Type R requires planned maintenance each 10,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first, with servicing costs totalling $995 for the first five appointments.

Honda offers all new models a five-year unlimited-kilometre warranty along with roadside assistance for the same period.

The honest verdict on the Civic Type R

There is no denying that nearly $73,000 is a lot for a hatchback and pricing is easily the new Civic Type R’s most frequent criticism. But it doesn’t take long at the wheel to realise the value equation is not quite black and white.

When compared to other front-wheel-drive high-performance hatchbacks, the Civic stands out as a very expensive proposition, but the fairer comparison looks not at driven wheels but at how much fun the Civic offers for the cash.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 front 3/4 track driving 2

Its price puts it in the same budget point as the Audi S3 or BMW M135i xDrive, both of which bring all-wheel drive to the party. And while the pair of Germans might save a few tenths on the track, it’s the Honda that provokes the widest smiles.

The mark of an exceptional hot hatch is not simply point-to-point speed but a combination of potency and the ease in which it can be accessed.

In that regard, the Honda not only goes straight back to the top of the front-drive performance pile, but treads on a few AWD hatch fingers on its way up.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 rear 3/4 close

It’s not quite a clean sweep, though. With a performance proposition that is every bit as good as the Honda, the Hyundai i30 N hatch is a key fly in the Civic’s ointment.

For Hyundai’s part, though, the Korean rival is a cool $20,000 cheaper, available as an auto and with a sunroof.

Regardless, as an exercise in outright driving enjoyment and performance car purity, the new Civic Type R is an absolute triumph at any price. If Porsche made a front-wheel drive, it would probably feel a lot like this.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

1996 cc
235kW at 6500rpm
420Nm at 2600rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
47 litres
8.9L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
528km (claimed)
Front Wheel Drive
4606 mm
1890 mm
1407 mm
Unoccupied weight
1429 kg

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