Honda Civic Type R Review

The Honda Civic Type R looks and goes like a race car, but is also practical and comfortable enough to use as family transport – not everyone will like those outrageous looks, though

 

9/10
Wowscore

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Very quick
  • Corners like a race car
  • Still a practical family car

What's not so good

  • Shouty looks won’t appeal to everyone
  • Unintuitive infotainment system
  • Struggles to accelerate in the wet

What do you want to read about Honda Civic Type R?

Overall verdict

The Honda Civic Type R looks and goes like a race car, but is also practical and comfortable enough to use as family transport – not everyone will like those outrageous looks, though

 

The Honda Civic is built for people who want their family car to accelerate like the starship Enterprise and look like it has been beamed down from another planet.

It’s not for shy and retiring types – to buy the Type R you’ll have to be confident enough in your own skin to not mind being branded a boy racer. It has an armoury of wings and ducts that make the mad Focus RS look like a choirboy.

But it’s not all show. The Civic’s 320hp, 2.0-litre engine can launch it from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and keep going until it hits a top speed of 169mph. Other models are faster – an automatic Volkswagen Golf R fires from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds – but most will be easy pickings for the Honda on a track.

That’s because the Honda weighs less than the VW and the Ford, and because it generates downforce – yep, those spoilers actually do something – that pushes the car into the ground at speed allowing for phenomenal grip around corners. Add brakes that stand up to relentless punishment and suspension that refuses to let the car lean and it’s clear why circuits feel like the Honda’s natural habitat.

The Honda Civic Type R looks like a spaceship and is capable of warp-drive performance

Mat Watson
carwow expert

That said, it can also handle mundane tasks. The adjustable suspension allows it to ride comfortably in town and you don’t get deafened at motorway speeds.

The low driving position always feels racy, though, and you get body-hugging sports seats that clamp your body like your least favourite aunt at Christmas. Red highlights and carbon-fibre-look trim pieces, a sporty steering wheel and a solid metal gearknob mean the Honda screams ‘race’ everywhere you look.

Peel away all the sporty decor, though, and you’re left with the bare bones of a practical family car with a big boot and lots of rear legroom. The only disappointment is the shortage of headroom in the back caused by the sporty sloping roof and an infotainment system that’s needlessly tricky to operate.

Safety is good, although the Honda only got four stars from Euro NCAP in 2017 compared to the five stars the Hyundai i30 got in the same year. That said, the Honda features a suite of up-to-date safety features such as active cruise control, automatic emergency braking and traffic-sign recognition.

So the Honda is safe, but really you’ll buy the Type R because it’s loud and proud, super quick, yet still practical enough to ferry the family about in.

For more in-depth information about the Civic Type R, read the interior, and specifications sections of our test over the following pages. Or, to see what kind of savings you can expect on the Civic Type R, click through to our deals page.

What's it like inside?

The Civic's an engaging drive, but won't keep up with four-wheel drive alternatives in the wet

The Honda Civic Type R’s low-set driving position feels sporty, but the infotainment system isn’t easy to use

The Honda’s low-set driver’s seat makes the Focus RS feel like you’re driving a Transit van

Mat Watson
carwow expert

How practical is it?

Headroom in the back is a bit tight, but otherwise the Type R is quite practical

The driving position is fantastic and the sports seats really comfortable, but things aren’t quite so good in the rear seats or the boot

It's perhaps a little hard to believe, but under all those spoilers and that sporty body kit is a reasonably practical family car

Mat Watson
carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
420 litres
Boot (seats down)
786 litres

The Civic Type R’s front seats are even more comfortable than the ones in the normal Civic. They clamp your body in place during hard cornering and sit low in the cabin for a hunkered down, sporty feel. The downside is that if you’re big-boned, you may feel they hug you a little too firmly to be comfortable on a longer journey.

It’s easy to get a comfortable driving position, thanks to a steering wheel that adjusts up and down as well as in and out, plus a height-adjustable driver’s seat.

It won’t be as simple to get comfortable in the back if you’re tall because the sloping roofline means anyone over six foot’s head will brush off the roof and the relatively small windows make you feel hemmed in. It’s frustrating because there’s loads of knee room.

It’s not a brilliant car when you have three in the back either. The Honda’s thin body leaves a third person feeling wedged in and they’ll have to share the two other passengers’ footwells because of the big hump in the middle of the floor.

All four door pockets can carry a litre bottle of water and the glovebox is well sized too. The centre console has cupholders and a larger cubby behind the gearstick that’s perfect for your phone, with ties that stop cables from getting tangled around the gearstick. Under the front centre armrest you’ll find another cubby. However, the cinema-style rear seats fitted to the old car – that flipped up to carry tall items like a child’s bike – have been done away with.

The Civic Type R’s 420-litre boot is bigger than you’ll get in the Volkswagen Golf R (343 litres) and the Ford Focus RS (260 litres), although a Skoda Octavia vRS tops them all with a whopping 590-litre capacity. That said, the Honda can deal with tasks like carrying a baby’s buggy or a set of golf clubs just fine, and it has enough space to carry a few suitcases.

Features are a bit thin on the ground, but you do get a 12V power socket and a roll-out parcel shelf that winds up like a tape measure when you remove it. Honda hasn’t released a rear-seats-down capacity, but with them dropped, the floor is completely flat to ease loading and the seats split 60:40 so you can push longer items through into the rear passenger compartment and still have space for a couple of people on the back seat.

Read full interior review

What's it like to drive?

Fast, but very easy to live with on a day-to-day basis

Indecently fast for a family car

The Civic Type R is phenomenally fast for a small family car, but it’s also easy to live with everyday. However, four-wheel drive alternatives are less demanding to drive quickly

The Civic Type R is phenomenally fast for a small family car, but it’s also easy to live with everyday

Mat Watson
carwow expert

The Honda Civic Type R has a 320hp, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that can rocket it from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 169mph. A Volkswagen Golf R is quicker on paper – it’ll do 0-62mph in 4.6 thanks to its four-wheel drive, launch control and quick-shifting automatic gearbox – but in the real world, the Honda feels every bit as fast.

That said, you’ll wish the Honda sounded a little more musical. Its exhausts make a business-like drone, but you don’t get the characterful crack and pops that a Focus RS emits.

Fuel economy of 36.7mpg isn’t brilliant but you can’t really expect the Type R to be with this performance. That said, a Volkswagen Golf R should be a little more frugal.

The Civic Type R looks like a race car and it drives like one too. The heavy steering makes it feel unshakable in corners and it’s quick – you can dart into bends spurred on by the fact that there’s very little lean when the suspension’s in its firmest +R setting.

There’s plenty of grip, too, although, unlike the Focus RS and Golf R, the Honda’s not four-wheel drive. Instead it relies on a limited-slip differential – a clever device that gives you more grip as you accelerate out of corners. You can feel it working as the car claws itself round corners at a speed that’s hard to believe.

It’s every bit as engaging to drive as its four-wheel drive alternatives, but on a wet road you’ll struggle to keep up with the Golf R or Focus RS because the Civic easily spins its front wheels when the road get slippery.

The Civic is only available with a manual gearbox – so it can’t compete with super-quick shifts of an automatic Golf R – but the Honda’s gear shift feel tight and short, and just adds to the race-car feel.

The good news is that the Civic feels super sporty while still being a perfectly usable everyday proposition. On top of +R you get Sport and Comfort drive select modes. Sport is firm enough for fast road driving without jarring you and your passengers over bumps. In town, though, you’ll want to choose Comfort which makes the Honda surprisingly comfortable, even on cobbled streets.

It’s even relatively quiet on the motorway, although the Type R’s huge 20-inch tyres produce more road noise than you get in a humble entry-level Civic. Adaptive cruise control – which can match the speed of the car in front before returning to a preselected cruising speed when the way is clear – comes fitted as standard, plus you get lane assist that can gently guide the car in lane and automatic emergency braking. GT models add a blind spot warning system that alerts you to approaching cars that aren’t in view and a cross traffic monitor that’ll do the same when you’re reversing out of bay parking spaces. Despite all this, the Honda only scored four stars when it was crash tested by safety body Euro NCAP.

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