Better in every way? The BEST things about the 2023 Honda Civic Type R and why the Volkswagen Golf R, Subaru WRX and Hyundai i30 N should be concerned – Car News
Type R is back baby! Well, almost – we’ve got about half a year before the new-generation Honda Civic Type R lands in Australia, but there’s plenty to look forward to as its local launch date draws nearer.
As the latest in a long line of hot hatches to sport the Type R badge, Honda’s newest hero has a lot to fulfil, but it seems like the Japanese marque has given it its all.
Should you hold off ordering a Volkswagen Golf GTI, Hyundai i30 N or Subaru WRX and save your bucks for Honda’s heroes instead? Here are the highlights from Honda’s latest hardcore hot hatch to help you decide.
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The previous generation FK8 Civic Type R gundam-inspired body kit polarized, to say the least. Its exterior was adorned with sharp angles, intricate details and boxy protrusions, and while some declared a deep love for it transformers-esque styling, others weren’t so willing to put something so extroverted in their driveway.
For the new FL5 Type R, Honda sanded down the edges and smoothed out the transitions, cleaning up the design considerably to give the new Red H hero a more universal appeal. The bonnet air intakes and ironing board rear wing are visually unassuming, while the prominent intercooler and triple exhaust are also obvious indicators of this car’s performance intent, but on the whole this is a far more mature-looking Type R than its predecessor.
Aside from sweeping changes to the design language, the new Type R’s exterior is also dramatically wider than the chef-ready Civic hatch it’s based on.
But while the old Type R achieved a similar increase in track width by gluing chunky fender flares to the rear wheel arches, Honda went a step further for its replacement by making unique sheet metal stampings for the quarter panels and rear doors that create that extra width into the body itself.
The front quarter panels are a bolt-on piece that can easily be rebuilt for a wider front suspension, but performing the same trick on the rear is a costly exercise. Honda thought it was worth the cost, and with the extra thickness around the new Type R’s hips giving it a purposeful stance – without the visual ugliness of grafted fender flares – we think it was definitely money well spent.
While it was initially speculated that the sixth-generation Civic Type R would get everything from a hybrid powertrain to all-wheel drive and a quick-shifting automatic transmission, Honda will instead stick with the proven 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with a six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive of the fifth generation car. According to the vine, this will likely be the last “pure” Civic Type R with FWD, a manual gearbox and no electrification.
However, the engineers turned up the wick on this hardware and pulled out 243 kW and 420 Nm, according to a Japanese market brochure that was allegedly accidentally sent to a customer. Compared to the previously offered 228kW and 400Nm, that’s a jump of 15kW and 20Nm – enough to give you a noticeably harder push in the back. However, one piece of information that will be crucial to the car’s performance has yet to be revealed: its weight. Will the new car beat the old car’s power-to-weight ratio of 164.1 kW per ton?
The outgoing Civic Type R rolled on 20-inch alloys, but the new one will come with 19-inchers instead. Wait, isn’t that a downgrade? Not for a performance car, it’s not.
While 20s may look cool, they come with compromises in ride quality, acceleration, braking, and handling, as lower-profile tires offer less compliance over rough terrain, and the increased rotational mass of a larger wheel/tire package requires more power to accelerate or decelerate the general rule that a smaller wheel performs better than a larger one – provided it physically fits over the brake pack.
That’s why the 2023 Civic Type R will come with 19-inch wheels. Another change is the increase in tires to 265-section rubber instead of the 245mm-wide tires fitted to the fifth-generation FK8 Civic Type R. Wider tires add a bit more rotational mass, but with more rubber in contact with the ground, more grip can be exploited – something that could see a dramatic drop in the Type R’s zero-to-100 time.
The only confirmed tire compound is the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S – a top-of-the-line sports car tire that should perform even better than the previous car’s Continental ContiSportContact 6s – although we haven’t announced what we’ll achieve in the Australian market yet.
In March this year, a camouflaged Type R prototype clinched the front-wheel drive record at Japan’s famous Suzuka Circuit – a track known for ultra-fast, sweeping corners that not only challenge regular high-performance cars, but especially front-wheel drive drivers.
The new Type R achieved a fastest lap time of 2:23.12. Considering that Japan’s own racing legend Keiichi Tsuchiya only clocked a 2:25.26 in a FERRARI F40, this should give you critical context on the new Type R’s performance potential.
Made in Japan
For some, there is no better indication of quality than the “Made in Japan” label. The new car will be manufactured in Japan, signaling a major shift in sourcing of the Civic Type R, which has been built in the United Kingdom for the past four generations (the original EK9 and third-generation Japan-only FD2 sedan are the only exceptions).