In-depth reviews

Honda Civic Type R review – a true great and sure-fire future icon

The Civic Type R is one of the most alluring performance cars on sale regardless of price

Evo rating
  • Balance; powertrain; brakes; driver engagement – it does it all
  • Some will never be able to get past its looks

The Honda Civic Type R has consistently punched above its weight since the current generation arrived in 2017, outdoing its key rivals again and again. So when time came to give it a subtle update, Honda took the sensible route keeping a light touch, while introducing a few new derivatives along the way. 

Yet while it would have been nice to see more of a change aesthetically, those who are put off by the spaceship styling are missing out, because it’s quite simply the finest hot hatchback to come to market since the VW Golf GTI Clubsport S and Renault Sport Mégane R26.R.

The astonishing thing is that for the driver, and indeed passengers, it’s nearly without compromise. The Golf and Mégane were intense. No back seats, trackday-spec rubber, reduced sound deadening, caged and fitted with plastic windows in the case of the Renault, but the Civic has none of the same compromises – a big boot, spacious rear seats, and a stunning primary and secondary ride, despite the 30-section tyres that we’ll come back to later.

In short, the Civic Type R doesn’t feel like a hot hatchback, but a superbly engineered sports car that just happens to be front-wheel drive. As a leader of front-drive performance car development in the ’90s with models such as the DC2 Integra Type R and Prelude, it’s remarkably fitting that Honda fill this niche in 2019.

Don’t lament the turbocharged engine, bloated proportions or flakey interior if you’re a VTEC diehard either, just enjoy the Type R’s uncanny ability to constantly surprise, delight and amaze

Honda Civic Type R: in detail

  • Engine, gearbox and technical highlights > The 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is both incredibly linear and yet still happy to rev. Gearbox is beyond brilliant.
  • Performance and 0-62mph time > Acceleration times are about as fast as manual front-wheel drive cars get at 5.7sec, top speed a ridiculous 169mph.
  • Ride and Handling > The Civic Type R makes full use of its stiffer, lower chassis and multi-link rear suspension.
  • MPG and running costs > The new WLTP 33.2mpg combined figure is achievable in normal driving, but like any turbo car the Civic can be thirsty when pushed.
  • Interior and tech > Longer, wider and of much better quality, the new Type R benefits from the same ergonomic and technological upgrades as the standard Civic
  • Design > Unlikely to be lost in a car park, the Civic Type R is one of those mad designs that either will or won’t work for you

Prices, specs and rivals

Starting at £34,415 for the well-equipped entry-level model, all the Type R’s performance paraphernalia comes standard including 20-inch wheels, Alcantara bucket seats, LED headlights and that arresting body kit. Drop another £2000 on the GT pack and you’ll get dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, satnav and blind spot monitoring – desirable, but not essential additions in other words. 

As part of its 2020 update, the Honda introduced two further variants which sat on either side of the scale in terms of focus, with the Sport Line removing the wing, but adding more sound deadening and a smaller set of 19-inch wheels and Michelin PS4 rubber. At £35,400, it sits between the two established models, but comes with all the added kit of the GT model inside. 

At the other end was the Limited Edition, and we say ‘was’ because all 20 units destined for the UK were snapped up before it even reached the dealership. As well as the fab yellow paintwork and forged wheel design, also came less interior deadening and an even more intense and distilled Type R experience. It’s a sure-fire future classic, yet at £39,995 felt like a sure-fire bargain considering its rarity. 

As with many Japanese cars, the options list is short, with only various exterior carbonfibre components threatening to rid you of yet more hard-earned cash at the dealer. 

Yet while the price has indeed gone up, so too has its rivals with the new Hyundai i30 N Performance starting at just under £34k and Golf GTI Clubsport sitting costing from just under £38,000 basic, and rising to more like £42,000 once fitted with appropriate wheels and dampers which should really be standard.

The Renault Mégane RS is currently the most closely matched in terms of power, performance and capability, and its new two-model line up at £32,990 and £36,990 for the RS300 and Trophy sit closest to the Honda in terms of price. Its 297bhp power figure is also down on the Civic, and it lacks adaptive dampers too. The latest Volkswagen Golf R is an odd case, lacking the polish and poise of its predecessor. It does, however, maintain a potent combination of desirability and strong residuals, but where the old car was an easy car to recommend, there’s now just too many chinks in its armour to be any more than merely average. The VW group’s other offerings, in the form of the Cupra Leon and Audi S3 Sportback, could also be considered at £35,125 and £36,805 respectively.

More on Civic Type-R

Get it while (if) you can – is the Fk8 Honda Civic Type R the new 911 GT3?
Best hot hatchbacks 2021 - Civic Type R nose
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Get it while (if) you can – is the Fk8 Honda Civic Type R the new 911 GT3?

Swindon’s closure has meant the Honda Civic Type R has become hot property with pre-reg cars hitting £10k over asking
4 Aug 2021
Honda Civic Type R GT 2020 review – still king of the hot hatch crop?
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type R GT 2020 review – still king of the hot hatch crop?

Subtle tweaks have made the Type R an even more formidable hot hatch, but we’re keen to try one again soon to understand fully the changes to the susp…
22 Sep 2020
Honda Civic Type R FN2 – review, history, prices and specs
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type R FN2 – review, history, prices and specs

Earlier Type Rs are more beloved and later ones faster, but the last naturally aspirated Type R can still entertain
11 Jun 2020
165mph Honda Civic Type R pickup concept revealed
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

165mph Honda Civic Type R pickup concept revealed

No production plans, but "Project P" shows the potential of Swindon's skunkworks
24 May 2018
2017 Honda Civic Type R review - just as mad as the old model?
Honda Civic Type R - front tracking
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

2017 Honda Civic Type R review - just as mad as the old model?

The new Civic Type R is a huge step on from the previous car, mixing surprising refinement with genuine interaction and scintillating pace
11 Mar 2018
Honda Civic Type R BTCC race car revealed for 2018 season
2018 Civic Type R BTCC - nose
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type R BTCC race car revealed for 2018 season

One of the BTCC’s most successful modern racers has been reimagined for 2018
27 Feb 2018
Honda Civic Type-R buying guide EP3 and FN2
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type-R buying guide EP3 and FN2

The high-revving Type-R is one of the most reliable hot hatches money can buy. And that money could be less than £3000
23 Aug 2017
Honda Civic Type R review (2015-2017) - the hottest front wheel drive hot hatch?
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type R review (2015-2017) - the hottest front wheel drive hot hatch?

Honda's new super-hatch outguns rivals on paper, but edgy +R damping means UK drivers can't exploit its most extreme settings
7 Aug 2017
New Honda Civic Type R revealed in TCR race trim
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

New Honda Civic Type R revealed in TCR race trim

Dramatic production Civic Type R gets even more crazy in TCR touring car form
12 Jul 2017
New Honda Civic Type R – prices, specs and track drive review
Honda Civic Type R  - Geneva front
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

New Honda Civic Type R – prices, specs and track drive review

We’ve been for a short drive in the new Honda Civic Type R hot hatch. Here’s everything you need to know
8 Jun 2017
Honda Civic Type-R Black Edition - A final version of the ballistic hot hatch
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type-R Black Edition - A final version of the ballistic hot hatch

As production of one of our favourite hot hatches ends Honda releases a final edition
10 Jan 2017
Watch - Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy-R vs Honda Civic Type R | evo DEADLY RIVALS
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Watch - Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy-R vs Honda Civic Type R | evo DEADLY RIVALS

Which is the fastest of the hottest hatches?
20 Oct 2015
Road to Type-R: on the Nürburgring
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Road to Type-R: on the Nürburgring

We catch a lift with Europe's Civic Type-R owners for a very special lap of the 'ring
17 May 2015
Road to Type R – evo meets owners at Honda HQ
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Road to Type R – evo meets owners at Honda HQ

evo and Honda UK host a meeting for Type R owners - and bring every generation of Civic Type R together
7 May 2015
Road to Type R - Honda Civic Type R (FN2) driven - Honda Civic Type R (FN2) - page 2
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Road to Type R - Honda Civic Type R (FN2) driven - Honda Civic Type R (FN2) - page 2

The FN2-generation Civic R is the black sheep of the Type R family. 8 years on from its launch, is it worth a second look?
6 May 2015
Road to Type R – Honda Civic Type R (EP3) driven
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Road to Type R – Honda Civic Type R (EP3) driven

evo revisits one of Honda's all-time classics - the 197bhp Civic Type R
5 May 2015
New Honda Civic Type R to compete in 2015 BTCC
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

New Honda Civic Type R to compete in 2015 BTCC

Civic Tourer unceremoniously dumped in favour of Honda's latest hot hatchback
25 Mar 2015
Should you buy a Honda Civic Type-R (EP3)?
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Should you buy a Honda Civic Type-R (EP3)?

The first UK-sanctioned Civic Type-R is now a used bargain - but is it worth the modest outlay?
10 Mar 2015
Honda Civic Type-R: Type-R concept breaks cover
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type-R: Type-R concept breaks cover

Just like the Renaultsport Clio, Honda's hot Civic, the Type-R, sells better in Britain than anywhere else in the world. And just as Renault did in th…
1 Mar 2006
Honda Civic Type-R: Type R for 2007 - it's official
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type-R: Type R for 2007 - it's official

We weren't expecting to hear the news quite so early, but Honda has just confirmed that a Type-R version of the new Civic will be launched in the firs…
6 Jan 2006