Hot hatches are the fun and engaging versions of otherwise bland offerings. Think Golf GTI’s, Focus ST’s, and of course, the 2023 Honda Civic Type R. Over time, these once lightweight and frugal machines have slowly gotten larger, heavier, and more expensive.
That of course begs the question; can the 2023 Honda Civic Type R continue to produce smile inducing drives at a reasonable price, or has it become too big and expensive for its own good?
Honda have toned down the exterior design of the sixth-generation Type R, but whether you choose the Crystal Black paint like our test vehicle, the trademark Championship White, Rally Red, or Sonic Grey, the front end has serious presence on the road.
Its aggressive headlights and air ducts show it means business, even if it does look slightly Dodge/BMW-esque. The 19-inch wheels in front of four-pot Brembo callipers are further cues to the Type R’s performance focus.
The rear spoiler and tri-tipped exhaust completing the package. Inside, the bright red seats, which are a hallmark of the Type R, not only pop out at you but also do a fantastic job of wrapping you up and making you feel tight and secure in the cabin.
At arm’s reach is an Alcantara steering wheel that feels fantastic in hand. Our caveat to this is that our test car had less than 5,000km on it. How it will fare after many years, miles, and owners, is anyone’s guess.
The alloy gear shifter, and this may sound silly to say, is a joy to hold and use. That said, on a cold winter’s morning, that first shift will definitely wake you up. The rest of the interior is simple, yet well executed.
Whatever is not required is not present and what is present is well upholstered and feels great to use. A case in point is the Alcantara style arm rests on the doors and the knurled aircon controls.
The digital gauge cluster is clear and crisp, and features a plethora of customisation options depending on what driving mode you are in, or what information is important to you. Atop the gauge cluster are a set of shift lights.
These light up from the outside in as the revs increase, all the way up to the point they flash at you and give you a “beep” to indicate it is time to slot the stunning six-speed box into the next gear.
Infotainment and tech is everything you’d expect from a 2023 car. A 9.0-inch display houses wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera and Honda’s LogR mode.
At best LogR is a useful tool for those who take their Type R to the track in order to better learn their car and keep an eye on its vitals. At worst, and for immature drivers such as yours truly, it’s a fun way to try and pull as many G’s as possible through corners.
There are some downsides to the infotainment system, including lag between modes and an extremely low resolution reversing camera. Under the dual-zone climate controls is a wireless charging pad, two USB ports and a 12-volt socket.
The rear occupants are treated to nicely bolstered seats, though it should be noted that this is a four-seater only. The fifth seat is taken up by two cupholders. For those looking to justify the Type R as a daily and or a family car there are ISOFIX points present as well.
We can attest to the fact that a rearward facing baby seat fits nice and snuggly, though thanks to the sloping roof line getting an 8-month-old in and out can be an interesting occasion.
Storage is surprisingly good, with the boot providing 410-litres of space with the rear seats in place, and 1,212-litres with the seats folded down. What the numbers don’t tell you is that the boot has real depth to it.
For example, where a pram may take up the footprint of a Golf’s boot, the Type R is able to accommodate the pram and a bag or two in front of it as well.
Out on the road, the Honda Civic Type R immediately shows it has the performance ability to match the exterior aesthetics. The way in which the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged motor deploys its 235kW of power and 420Nm of torque is infectious.
Yobbish use of the accelerator will see the limited slip differential go hunting for grip as the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S rubber lights up in first gear. Once you slide the alloy shifter into second and beyond, the digital speedo’s numbers build at a very brisk rate.
While 0-100km/h is never the strong suit of a powerful front-wheel drive car, it’s the ability of the Type R to go from 40km/h to “I’m sorry sir” level km/h in the blink of an eye that leaves a lasting impression.
The six-speed box is one of the best in the business. It has a lovely weight to it and requires a firm press into each gate. The throw is short and thanks to the auto rev matching feature, can make you feel like a racing driver on your daily commute.
Honda’s suspension department deserves a tonne of praise as the Type R feels as though it is glued to the road at all times and, even on some questionable country roads, never feels uncomposed or jittery.
There is a discernible difference between R+ mode, Sport and Comfort mode. Rotating through the drive modes has an immediate effect on the damping of the Type R, with Comfort doing a commendable job of ironing out Sydney’s potted roads.
Steering is another element Honda have nailed and, as with the suspension, is a highlight of the Type R. In R+ mode it has real weight and heft, whereas in Comfort mode it lightens nicely while maintaining a sporty feel.
After a week of country drives and pottering around Sydney, we were able to meet Honda’s claimed economy of 8.9-litres/100km. An impressive number considering the performance available.
It’s hard not to feel a little sad that the naturally aspirated, 8,500rpm, V-Tec crossover character of yesteryear has long since left the Type R, but it’s also hard to deny the progress Honda have made with their engines.
Honda quotes pricing from $72,600 before options for the 2023 Civic Type R. There is no doubt that is a lot of money, however, judging by the wait times it would seem buyers believe they are getting great value for their cash.
Our 2023 Honda Civic Type R was supplied by Honda Australia. To find out more, contact your local Honda dealer.