The Civic Type R has always followed the design trajectory of the mainstream Civic in production at the time. Now, in its fifth iteration, Honda claims that the Civic Type R is the most powerful Honda vehicle sold in Canada. It’s no surprise, then, that its launch seems as hyped as the NSX launch from its sister company a few years back. This is the Civic Type R’s first entry into the North American market. Before this, if you wanted a performance-oriented Civic, you would have to opt for the Civic Si. If you wanted something more outrageous, you’d have to tweak it yourself with a plethora of aftermarket add-ons.
But the Type R isn’t just a show car. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter direct-injected turbo i-VTEC engine that generates 306 horsepower at 6500rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque at 2500-4500rpm. The four-cylinder is coupled to a buttery-smooth six-speed manual transmission that pushes all of its power to the front wheels. While so much power going to the front wheels traditionally would have caused a lot of torque steer, Honda’s engineers have managed to control that with the help of dual-axis struts. These struts consist of additional joints that mitigate the engine’s influence on the steering. This, coupled with Honda’s Helical limited slip front differential, provides a straight-and-balanced driving experience under heavy acceleration.
At the rear, the Type R manages all of its power with a multi-link rear suspension system. This mechanism supports each rear tire with four arms so each tire maintains contact with the ground independently, providing excellent ride comfort in addition to improved control. Shifting the Civic Type R between gears is effortless, thanks to its short-throw aluminum gear shift knob, and the engine delivers instant feedback from each shift.
The most distinctive visual element of the Civic Type R is its wing. While the wing’s design might be polarizing, it certainly increases downforce by creating a pressure differential. What’s key here is that Honda has made the wing super thin to reduce drag. Vortex generators located just above the rear glass complement the wing. This series of racy-looking pieces is designed to direct air strategically at the wing for even more downforce. In terms of visibility, Honda strategically positioned the wing high enough to be completely out of sight from the rear-view mirror.
Three driving modes power the Civic Type R: Comfort, Sport, and R+. The car defaults into Sport mode. In Sport mode, the Type R delivers excellent acceleration and throttle feedback, with a solid purr from the engine to match its performance. The power output in this mode can be compared to the Civic Si. Switch it over to R+ mode and you are in for a treat. The throttle response is instantaneous and brisk, and the car invites you to take it to the limit. The new dual-pinion power steering takes steering input from the driver while a torque sensor measures the driver’s steering effort and determines how much electric motor assist to add, making maneuvering a breeze. In comfort mode, the car mitigates the exhaust notes and tames the throttle response so one can enjoy daily drives and achieve decent fuel economy – if the excitement ever starts to wear out.
Surprisingly, despite its performance, the Civic Type R achieves excellent fuel economy. Driving about suburban city streets at speeds around 60km/h and moderate traffic, we achieved 9.5 liters per 100km. On the highway at speeds under 120km/h, we were able to bring the fuel economy down to 6.1L/100km. This brought our average fuel economy across both driving environments to a respectable 8.4L/100km. This matches midsize sedans, such as the Honda Accord.
Priced more than twice as much as a base Civic, the Type R is the most expensive of the hot hatches in North America. The Type R starts at $41,690 Canadian, while a Golf GTI or Veloster N would set you back $30,845 and $34,999 respectively. But if a hot hatch is what you want, that hefty price tag might just be worth it. As it’s based on the Civic Hatch, you get a very usable car. The Type R’s swooping rear roofline provides an elongated and raised trunk space that offers more cargo space than the Civic sedan. Overall, the Civic Type R is an excellent performance car from a dependable brand, offering the thrill of a compact hot hatch with the spacious dimensions and fuel economy of a sedan.