Honda Civic Type R Review – Japanese jewel gives you so much for sub-50k

Honda Civic Type R review: A brief summary

What we love

  • Engine and performance
  • Large boot and interior buttons
  • Engaging manual gearbox 

What we don’t

  • Feels too wide in town and countryside
  • Loud at motorway speeds
  • Sense that it’s too stiff for motorway roads

The Honda Civic Type R is a £50,000 hot hatchback with around 329bhp, space for four, and a big boot. It sits in a segment filled with fellow giants like Hyundai, Ford, Mercedes, BMW, and Audi. Standing out here takes more than just power, it needs something more. 

And more the Honda has because while some rivals may have more power or send their power to the rear as well as the front, the Honda’s lightweight and grip pull it into the fight. This is a car you can place wherever you like and one which can handle the variety of surfaces Britain’s roads throw at it.

What’s more, inside the cabin there are buttons as well as a touch screen so operating the car is a doddle as you set up Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and leave your phone to charge on the pad underneath the aircon controls. The only areas where the car is let down are by its width and the fact that its firmer ride may not appeal to those who regularly do long distances. 

If this car is the last song on the album for a pure hot hatch, then Honda has gone out with a belter.

The Honda Civic Type R is one of the last of a dying breed of fast, lightweight, and practical cars that are as comfortable bounding down a B-road as they are popping along to the shops. 

Armed with a six-speed manual gearbox and a revvy two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine at the front, this could be the last time we see a Type R which doesn’t have some electric assistance or is completely powered by electricity. 

As a result, this makes this Type R and its rivals including the Ford Focus ST, Hyundai i30N and Mercedes-AMG A35 particularly special and puts even more pressure on Honda to get it right. Not only is this because the level of competition is so high but because if this is the final pure Type R, it’s got to be a good one. 

What we wanted to know was whether this larger and faster Type R would live up to our expectations after seeing it sweep the board across the motoring press.  

Performance and Driving

Let’s start here, shall we? Up front, as mentioned is a two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumping out around 329bhp and sending that plus 420Nm of torque to the front wheels. 

Combined with modifications to the suspension, lightweight parts, and ultra-sticky tyres, this Type R can launch from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds. According to Honda, it is the fastest front-wheel drive car to ever lap the infamous Suzuka circuit in Japan. 

While that is impressive, in the real world what matters on British roads is low-speed grip, how the car feels at 60mph and under, and on these roads, it is flat and incisive as it grips even slightly questionable British tarmac without fuss.

The Type R is very good at talking to you, the steering wheel vibrates as the bumps in the road rise up through the seat. You are fully involved in this driving experience even at moderate speeds, but which could become slightly more waring on long motorway journeys and because of a factor completely out of the car’s control.



The trend with a lot of modern cars, sporty or not, is to festoon the centre console with a massive touch screen and operate everything through there like Tesla has done. 

However, touch screens aren’t intuitive to use unless the car is parked and using them on the move means taking your eyes away from the road in comparison to buttons where muscle memory takes over after a while. In the Honda, the designers have mixed the two and struck the right balance.

Yes, there is a touch screen, but it’s small and sits on top of a row of switches which operate the fan, aircon, and other essential controls. There’s a wireless charging pad for your mobile phone too and two large cup holders placed above the transmission tunnel. 

Behind the driver, there is space for two six-foot-tall adult passengers who can sit comfortably on supportive seats and place their drinks in two cup holders nestled between them.

Honda Civic Type R review: Boot space

The factor completely out of the car’s control: Britain’s roads

The Honda is technically brilliant and a car which I couldn’t wait to get into every single time I got out of it. Not only does it look focused, it drives incisively as well. Operating the manual gearbox and engine combination is like playing a musical instrument. 

The only problem is where the playing takes place. It’s not Britain itself, but the roads, the Honda is wide and Britain’s streets and B-roads have more holes in them than the surface of the moon. Through towns and cities, you plan ahead to navigate around the craters and brace yourself as you crash over yet another poorly laid surface. 

Put simply, it’s hard to enjoy a £50k car – ours was specced to just under this figure – when the roads are as unpredictable as ours although there are some smooth patches if you know where to look. As a result, while the car is fantastic dynamically, fundamentally it isn’t 100 percent suited to the Britain it’s landed in.


The Honda Civic Type R is a Japanese Jewel and truly deserving of every single award and word of praise that goes its way. It is an enjoyable experience whether you’re doing 17 or 70mph. What’s more, it’s practical and easy to use in a way which isn’t intimidating. 

While it lacks some of the visual flairs of its predecessor it has lost nothing in its smoothing out and remains a fantastic-looking thing. The only factors that let it down are its width, engine noise at motorway speeds and the fact the UK’s roads are a little too rough for its stiff suspension. 

It is a car any person should be proud to own and a car that has set a very high bar for the likes of Mercedes, Hyundai, Ford and co try and match. 

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