The radical Civic Type R is a polarizing hi-po hatchback. Haters think it’s too hideous to own, and backers believe it’s too fantastic to miss. We know it’s the latter, seeing as we named it a 10Best Cars winner along with the impressive Civic Sport hatchback and the Civic Si: What’s more, the Type R beat the Ford Focus RS in a head-to-head comparison. To all who disagree, we say don’t knock it until you try it. Honda has seemingly perfected front-wheel-drive performance on the Type R by all but eliminating unpleasant torque steer and prioritizing balance through celestial chassis tuning. The sole powertrain is a sweet six-speed manual gearbox paired with a 306-hp turbocharged four-cylinder. Its in-your-face styling may be too much to stomach, but its funky looks are forgotten after your belly fills with butterflies from its bonkers engine and gigantic grip. While words can’t fully describe what the Type R is like to drive, we strongly suggest you don’t judge this crazy sonuvahatch by its cover.
What’s New for 2019?
While we’ve heaped praise on the Type R, and deservedly so, we’ve also bemoaned its frustrating touchscreen-based infotainment interface—until now. Honda has graciously added a volume knob and physical buttons for 2019 that instantly make the system more user-friendly. The climate controls also now have a hard button that adjusts the fan speed. Along with those updates, the Type R receives larger cupholders, a revised switch for the electronic-parking brake, and more streamlined steering-wheel controls. The super Civic’s color palette is also expanded to include Sonic Gray Pearl.
Honda Civic Type R Pricing and Which One to Buy
While the Civic Type R started at $36,595 when 2019 models first went on sale, Honda has since increased the price by $635. Still, buyers who can live with its outrageous styling will be rewarded with a phenomenal driver’s car. The Honda is more refined than rivals such as the Ford Focus RS and the Subaru WRX STI. While the Volkswagen Golf R is also easy to drive daily and is much better to look at, it’s not as ethereal on the track and has a base price above $40,000. Speccing out the Civic Type R is simple, since desirable features are standard, including navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, passive entry and push-button start, adaptive dampers, and front sport seats. Apart from a handful of optional accessories, the only buying decision is to pick a paint color that calls the most—or least—attention to this rolling caricature. Hint: Rallye Red is eyebrow-raising and outrageous.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Civic Type R looks like something the devil himself spat on the asphalt, and it goes like a bat out of hell, too. Its exclusive turbocharged four-cylinder makes 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The eager engine always feels alive with a responsive throttle and imperceptible turbo lag. In our testing, it spurred the hatchback to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. A short-throw six-speed manual is also on hand and the only transmission choice. The Honda’s easy clutch action and precise shifter are as perfectly synchronized as a pair of figure skaters. Too bad the triple-pipe, center-exit exhaust isn’t as loud as the exterior styling. Sure, its innocuous note is appreciated on long trips, but we want more roar in a car that looks and drives like this one. The Type R is that rare type of car with terrific track ability and amicable road manners. It sticks to the road like bionic Velcro, with steering telepathy that would embarrass Miss Cleo and a chassis seemingly tuned by a Formula 1 engineer. Although its suspension is stiffer than the sporty Civic Si’s, the R-rated version is still surprisingly comfortable—especially compared with the hard-riding Focus RS. It’s only slightly impolite on rough roads or over harsh bumps, where the 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires yield loud impacts. The Honda’s immense grip was exhibited on our skidpad, where it pulled 1.02 g’s—an impressive feat for any car, let alone one with front-wheel drive. The Type R set the bar even higher with its astonishing emergency-braking distance (70 mph to zero) of 142 feet, which equals that of the $200,000 Acura NSX supercar we tested.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Civic Type R boasts above-average EPA fuel-economy ratings and does equally well in the real world. The Type R and its competitors all matched or exceeded their EPA highway estimates on our fuel-economy loop. Honda’s hot hatchback rang in at 29 mpg, beating its rating by 1 mpg—though still trailing the Golf R’s 31 mpg.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
The Type R’s interior is rated R for scenes involving gratuitous red accents and obscenely comfy racing seats. Although the styling isn’t subtle, the interior relies on Type R trademarks and racy materials to highlight its sufficient passenger space. The 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster has a red theme—obviously—and a distinct appearance for each drive mode. The Civic Type R may be equal parts track star and daily driver, but it’s also a very practical travel companion. In our testing, it accommodated significantly more ping-pong balls than its rivals and tied the WRX STI for the greatest carry-on-luggage capacity.
Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and Driver
Infotainment and Connectivity
The addition of a volume knob and physical buttons has alleviated some of our frustrations with the infotainment system’s touchscreen interface. Otherwise, the infotainment system has standard features such as integrated navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a rockin’ stereo.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Safety is a primary concern at the racetrack, but driver assists such as adaptive cruise control and automated emergency braking are useless there and add weight: at the track, lighter means faster. As such, the Type R skips driver-assistance features in favor of ultimate performance.
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Honda covers the Civic Type R with a competitive limited and powertrain warranty. However, it lacks complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance