The New Honda Civic Type R Is Two Steps Back, Three Steps Forward

Returning to what the Type R badge used to mean.

Automotive
8,685 Hypes 6 Comments

The Type R badge has always been the hot ticket item from Honda, ever since its introduction in 1992 with the flagship Honda NSX. The US didn’t see its first Type R model until 1998, bestowed upon the Integra coupe under the luxury subsidiary, Acura. It wasn’t until almost 20 years later did the US finally receive the Type R badge on the compact Civic in 2017, which by then was the “CTR” moniker’s fifth iteration and a whopping 10th generation for the base car itself. Needless to say, US fans were hungry by the time the first official Civic Type R arrived.

Now, we Americans are graced with our second generation of Honda Civic Type R, known within the car circles by its internal ‘FL5’ chassis code. In comparison with the first FK8, the FL5 can be summarized as “two steps back, three steps forward”, largely based on its looks. Power and performance still speaks to the core Type R fans and most won’t be disappointed, but price – especially in this economic climate – is definitely a point of discussion.

As such, we had our week with the brand new 2023 Honda Civic Type R in classic Championship White and have a few things to say about it.

Exterior

We’ll start with the elephant in the room – the exterior design. Ever since its introduction in 2017, the FK8 Honda Civic Type R received highly divisive reviews mainly on its appearance. “Wildly over styled,” “boy racer,” “Sonic the Hedgehog” and other adjectives were often heard about the car’s over-the-top aesthetics. The FK8 adopted fins, wings, cuts, angles, fake vents, bulges and triangles galore that overall made it an eye sore. Sure, the elements may have made the car aerodynamic in functionality, but the consensus was that with everything combined on top of the conservative Civic, it was just too much.

So Honda addressed the feedback and came up with the FL5 Civic Type R. The result is, … subtler. At first glance you’d easily mistake it for a modified base Civic – an often popular choice for the budding car enthusiast. As you walk closer the dead giveaways that you’re looking at a Type R are the wider front and rear fenders and the blacked-out rear wing. The fenders are drop dead gorgeous, with just enough sleekness and curvature that really give the car a much-needed aggressive stance, especially if you’re able to view the car from above. The rear wing however is a bit less impressive, looking more like an aftermarket afterthought than something that was styled from factory to match. Honda does offer a carbon fiber wing option for a little over $5,000 USD, but choosing it would only drive the point home even more that it feels out of place. Nevertheless, while more mature consumers may love the subtle route, fanboys and statement-seeking enthusiasts won’t bat an eyelid.

The subtle design now brings the car back in line with the original Civic Type R’s design ethos… and for most that’s probably the right move.

We were also a bit unimpressed with the wheels, with Honda opting to go with 19” rims – the previous gen came with 20”s. The wheel design is fine, but its diminished size wrapped with skinny-albeit-awesome Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 265/30 tires lack the right proportions. We would’ve loved to see the rim not only larger and wider but with beefier 35 profile tires to fill the fenders a bit more. A slightly lower stance would’ve also been appreciated.

Overall however we understand the subtle design now brings the car back in line with the original Civic Type R’s design ethos – “if you know, you know” – and for most that’s probably the right move, but we just think it feels conservative and incomplete.

Interior

Honda decided to spice things up on the inside, and the first thing you’ll notice is the all-red carpet and floor mats. Not burgundy or maroon – all of it is bright red. If that wasn’t enough, drive the Type R at night and you’ll see the dash and doors have ambient red LED stripes, not to mention red footwell lights too. If Honda wanted to cement the idea that “R” stands for red; mission accomplished.

Functionality is key, as there’s a lot to appreciate inside the FL5. The center cup holders are positioned very well, deep within the console to avoid spillage or your elbow bumping into them. Everything is incredibly easy to access and requires no training to understand – brownie points for physical volume and temperature knobs, not to mention climate controls not buried inside a touchscreen. The (smooth) leather steering wheel and Alcantara touch points are really comfortable, and the Type R-exclusive semi-buckets remain one of our favorite seats of any sporty compact car, hands down. All of this is secondary to the fantastic manual shifter and aluminum shift knob, which is molded so perfectly it feels almost liquid in your hand.

Beyond the sporty credentials however, the interior is pretty sparse. There’s a lot of things that forcibly remind you you’re in an econobox. The “L R” side mirror switch is the flimsiest inch of plastic we’ve ever felt. The lights inside the vanity mirrors look as if they belong on a plastic toy; they’re so dim and weak. The side door cup holders are made of plastic and have ridges on the inner edges, making them feel unfinished. The hazard button is rectangular, (un)fitted within a square cutout in the dash – why not recess the button, or at least match the shapes? It’s these things that remind you the car you bought, at the end of the day, is a Civic…

2023 Honda Civic Type R FL5 Review Exterior Interior Performance Price FK8

Tyler Clemmensen/Hypebeast

Performance

… until you mash your foot down, reminding you that it’s a Type R. Thankfully the CTR is a powerhouse, and a boatload of fun to drive. Two-liter turbocharged engines are a dime a dozen now, but Honda has had decades of experience making fun, small displacement engines that either rev to high hell or provide an amazing balance of power with drivability. The latter is the case for the FL5 – with 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, the car feels lively and responsive with little turbo lag. You never hesitate to rev all the way up to 7,000 RPM, especially with the spectrum of LED shift lights nestled inside the gauge cluster telling you when to change gear.

Speaking of the gauge cluster, the design is customizable and depends on your drive mode – Comfort, Sport, or “+R.” The lattermost features an awesome digital, horizontal rev counter ala the S2000. While we found Comfort and Sport fine for the highway and local roads respectively, +R was way too hardcore for daily driving. The steering was overly heavy and the dampening was too harsh as we navigated intersection gutters and parking lot entrances. Thankfully there’s a customizable “Individual” mode that allows for choosing each element from these different modes into one. We mix and matched Sport and Comfort for handling characteristics, but set the engine to +R – the result was the best of everything.

The Civic Type R therefore arrives to owners with an incredibly well-rounded vehicle – one you can easily take to grab groceries or meet up with friends, or drive 100 miles south from the suburbs to San Diego and arrive in one piece. Feeling lively? Take it to the track, set everything to firm, blast around Buttonwillow and drive home like you never left. It’s the enthusiast car for everyone, and you get to bring three friends with you.

2023 Honda Civic Type R FL5 Review Exterior Interior Performance Price FK8

Tyler Clemmensen/Hypebeast

“Diehards won’t think twice about putting the money down, because they know what the Type R badge means.”

Price

And while it may be for everyone, not everyone will be able to afford it. Base MSRP stands at $43,295 USD, but consider yourself lucky if you ever see one for even close to that, thanks to private party flippers and ADM (Additional Dealer Markup). Even at $43k USD, the Civic Type R is a hard pill to swallow, but with the potential to reach $50k USD, it’s a choking hazard. Fifty grand could score you much more in terms of luxury and performance – the BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe, for example, starts at $47k USD and does 0-60 in 4.6 seconds, half a second faster than the Type R.

But this is a clear case of hype driving the market, as the Civic Type R – and its competitors in the Toyota GR family – are the hottest things on the street right now thanks to scarcity and pedigree. While subtle, we were able to grab the attention of some fans on the road, with a few people who even approached to confirm “is that the new one??” For these examples alone, diehards won’t think twice about putting the money down, because they know what the Type R badge means.

And with the FL5 “course-correcting” itself back into the “iykyk” lane of generations prior to the FK8, we can honestly say the current Civic iteration is what Type R is all about – fast, functional, fairly under the radar and, most importantly, fun. We’re happy to see the Civic Type R is back and better than ever before.

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

Watch How the 2023 Honda Civic Type R Is Made
Automotive

Watch How the 2023 Honda Civic Type R Is Made

From robot assembly to the final checks at its Yorii facility in Japan.

Honda Japan Suspends All New Orders for the  Civic Type R
Automotive

Honda Japan Suspends All New Orders for the Civic Type R

Due to supply chain shortages and high demand.

Honda Reveals 315 Horsepower For the 2023 Civic Type R
Automotive

Honda Reveals 315 Horsepower For the 2023 Civic Type R

Making it the most powerful version ever released.


Summer Is Not Over Says Saint Laurent Rive Droite’s Sunkissed Capsule
Fashion

Summer Is Not Over Says Saint Laurent Rive Droite’s Sunkissed Capsule

Including everything from swim shorts to a surfboard.

Pharrell's Humanrace and adidas Originals Debut the NMD S1 MAHBS
Footwear

Pharrell's Humanrace and adidas Originals Debut the NMD S1 MAHBS

Its canvas upper build comes emblazoned with bold and oversized Humanrace branding.

A Closer Look at Mercedes-Maybach’s Showstopping Haute Voiture Design
Automotive 

A Closer Look at Mercedes-Maybach’s Showstopping Haute Voiture Design

Presented by Mercedes
Imitating high-fashion stylings in the new S 680 edition.

System Studios' FW23 “Returning Legacy” Collection Looks Back at Its 32-Year History
Fashion

System Studios' FW23 “Returning Legacy” Collection Looks Back at Its 32-Year History

The brand presents oversized garments frozen in time that channel its lengthy heritage in diverse ways.

Nina Lee Has Mastered Artist Publicity
Music 

Nina Lee Has Mastered Artist Publicity

From writing to planning schedules and executing GRAMMY campaigns, the Senior Director of Communications at The Oriel Company has dozens of job descriptions — all of which are fulfilling.

Dubai Hosted a Three-Day Event to Reveal Atlantis The Royal
Entertainment

Dubai Hosted a Three-Day Event to Reveal Atlantis The Royal

A round-up of the weekend with appearances from Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Nobu Matsuhisa, Kendall Jenner and more.


Burberry’s "B:Mine" Campaign Celebrates Valentines Day’s Moments of Embrace
Fashion 

Burberry’s "B:Mine" Campaign Celebrates Valentines Day’s Moments of Embrace

Featuring a revitalized version of the Classic sneaker.

This Timber Building in London Paves the way for a "Sustainable-Architecture Revolution"
Design

This Timber Building in London Paves the way for a "Sustainable-Architecture Revolution"

Designed by Waugh Thistleton Architects for workspace group TOG.

AIREI FW23 Marked the Brand's Heroic Paris Fashion Week Debut
Fashion

AIREI FW23 Marked the Brand's Heroic Paris Fashion Week Debut

Featuring numerous sustainably-focused collaborations alongside ASICS, Matter of Trust, Dunlop, and CHURCHILL.

Nike Adds the Air Max 90 to the "Moving Company" Family
Footwear

Nike Adds the Air Max 90 to the "Moving Company" Family

Following the first Air Force 1 and Air Max 97 installments.

John Galliano's Maison Margiela Explores Punk Romance in Co-Ed 2023 Show
Fashion

John Galliano's Maison Margiela Explores Punk Romance in Co-Ed 2023 Show

Bridging ready-to-wear with Haute Couture for a spectacle of design mastery.

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Looks like you’re using an ad-blocker

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. Support us by whitelisting our site.

Whitelist Us

How to Whitelist Us

screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Under “Pause on this site” click “Always”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock Plus icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Block ads on – This website” switch off the toggle to turn it from blue to gray.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlocker Ultimate icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Switch off the toggle to turn it from “Enabled on this site” to “Disabled on this site”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the Ghostery icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the “Ad-Blocking” button at the bottom. It will turn gray and the text above will go from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the UBlock Origin icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the large blue power icon at the top.
  3. When it turns gray, click the refresh icon that has appeared next to it or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the icon of the ad-blocker extension installed on your browser.You’ll usually find this icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You may have more than one ad-blocker installed.
  2. Follow the instructions for disabling the ad blocker on the site you’re viewing.You may have to select a menu option or click a button.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.