Honda has been teasing the newest Civic Type R for some time now, however, the time has come where you can actually buy one. So how does the first ever turbocharged Civic Type R in the States fair? We are here to find out.
The Type R has always been some sort of an enigma. At its core, the Civic is a family friendly car that was meant to be reliable, safe and comfortable. And it does that admirably, without providing any joy of driving whatsoever. Essentially the white bread of the car world, the Honda Civic is just kind of there. This makes for an excellent scoot around town car because you will never be worried about it, but it most certainly isn’t a enthusiasts machine. And that right there is where Honda wanted to make things complicated. Back in 1997 Honda decided to throw some upgraded parts and a Type R badge at the Civic and hailed it as a performance vehicle. The result was one that split automotive enthusiasts like Moses parted the Red Sea(allegedly). Some loved it, some detested everything that it stood for.
That was 4 generations ago, making the 2018 FK8 chassis the 5th consecutive ‘Type R’ model. While it still shares that silly Type R badge, it is drastically different than that of the original ‘R’. The first major difference is its grotesquely large size, 3,117 pounds. That is how much the new 4 door Type R weighs, a massive amount considering where they started. The next biggest change comes in the form of engine choices. No, that doesn’t mean a V-8 you maniac. It does however, mean the inclusion of a turbocharger, something that the American market has been desperately craving for years.
Now that the 2-liter turbo engine is a reality the Type R is packing some serious punch under the hood. Running at a ferocious 23.2PSI of boost the all new K20C1 is able to make a substantial 306 horsepower and a surprising 295ft-lbs of torque. All while still managing the i-VTEC moniker. Honda has officially produced a Civic that has torque. We are officially in the future ladies and gentlemen. As usual, the engine is mounted to a 6-speed Honda transmission that shifts so smooth and so precise that every time you row through the gears your eyes will well up with joy.
Another aspect of that silky smooth 6-speed is the addition of electronics. This high-tech Honda is packing a wealth of driving aids but the biggest by far is the auto-blip downshifting. No longer do you have to heal-toe your way to the perfect shift, Instead you can elect to have the R’s computer do it for you. I might be old fashioned, but I say do it yourself or don’t do it at all. Luckily the feature can be turned on or off so you can tailor it to how “racey” you are feeling. Continuing with drivers aids, the Type R comes stocked with three different modes, Comfort, Sport, and +R. Each driving mode changes the dynamics of the hot rod Civic drastically, taking the Type R from a kitten to a cheetah with the press of a single button.
If you are buying the Type R though, there is really only one mode you are going to need, and that is obviously +R. Honestly, I’m not even sure why they offer the other two. Isn’t that exactly what the base Civic and SI models are for? Anyway, +R. This takes and firms up both the suspension and electronic steering while also making the traction control and throttle response more aggressive. Essentially the entire point of the Type R badge in the first place.
Holy mother of all things moto, the 2017 Civic Type R is FUGLY! Phew, couldn’t hold that in any longer. I’m sorry if you don’t agree… Wait, no I’m not. If you Don’t agree that this is one of the ugliest cars Honda has ever produced then you either have the judgment of a 15-year-old Dom Torreto or the eyes of a 98-year-old cataracts patient. Either way you have some serious problems to consider before buying your next car. Now that we have addressed Honda’s ridiculous boy racer bodywork we can get on to the real up shots, how it drives.
The Type R is a front wheel drive car competing in a class full of all-wheel drive. While it ends up being the lightest of the bunch with similar power, it does find itself being frowned upon by the AWD aficionados of the world. They will almost always start with some quip about ‘torque steer’ before diving into the ironic territory of understeer. But the nice thing about the Type R is that it is mainly lacking both. Sure, push it hard enough and the front tires will light up like a ‘Dead concert, but for the most part with proper driver inputs the chassis handles the power inputs without much agitation. Honda accomplished this by mechanically separating the steering system from that of the suspension functions. In turn they reduced the spindle length and scrub radius which drastically affects how much torque steer you get. Well played Honda.
The engine is a gem. It propels the bloated econo car with haste, giving the Type R the sporty feel you will likely be looking for in a car of this caliber. Of all the complaints against the Honda the one that shocked me the most was people saying it wasn’t ‘loud enough.’ Obviously, they can’t be talking about the ridiculous bodywork. Instead, they meant just that, they can’t hear the engine while it’s winding out, even with the triple pipes. Turns out that silly third pipe is there to act as a baffle, adding some ‘growl’ at low RPM’s while allowing for a drone free note when the inline 4 is singing at redline. We’ll it sounds good in theory, but in reality the system suffers from stage fright and never really performs. Lucky for you, this gives you a reason to swap the stock exhaust and get rid of that seriously hideous third pipe.
While it may do so silently the Type R can get up and move when it wants to, aiding in that Nurburgring record we all keep hearing about. To help accomplish its record and to also keep you from ending your day wrapped around a tree, the Type R comes equipped with some serious rubber. 20×8.5 wheels wrapped in 245 summer tires give some serious traction while Brembo 4-pots over 13.8-inch rotors up front help drag the Type R to a stop. The brakes have been reported with great feel and impressive longevity, staving off brake fade even on the track.
Lastly, we have to touch on the interior. Honda’s teenage styling department was at it again, Luckily they toned it down on the inside. Red bucket seats come standard, a tribute to Type R’s of the past. Red pinstriping is also featured throughout the cabin keeping things uniform. That is until you reach the rear seat. The rear seat that is evidently straight out of the base model Civic. Not only that but it doesn’t match the heavily bolstered red racing seats that reside just in front, instead it barely matches the interior at all. Obviously an oversight by Honda, but a costly one when you are only selling 4 door variants. Luckily the quality dash and center console are able to revitalize the interior, bringing it back to a respectable image. In typical Type R fashion, the shift knob and boot are the holy grail of interior trim pieces, easily becoming your favorite accessory.
The 5th gen Type R is the epitome of controversial. First and foremost it is very quick, making for a hard car to pass on when looking for a daily that checks off the ‘fun’ box. Yet it is still only front wheel drive, which caps its fun factor to a certain extent. Once you factor in that this Type R cost a substantial chunk at $35,000 it becomes less clear who this car will appeal too. It’s much too obnoxious looking for anyone that can truly afford such a high price tag, yet it’s about $33,000 too expensive for the 4 teenagers that happen to like the way it’s styled. Now a car that could have been a real force is stuck in no man’s land all because of an insatiable need to make it ‘edgy.’
The Type R has always been an enigma, and it is looking to remain that way. This time it’s just an enigma that has gotten a little faster