This might be the final Type R to feature a powertrain entirely free of electrification. Honda could easily have made the current car a hybrid or even a mild hybrid, instead rejecting that idea. Why? Buyers in the largest market likely would not be too keen on either of those ideas. Americans are though finally embracing gasoline-electric systems. Just not so much the people who buy the fastest, most dramatic looking Civic.

Why no Type R sedan?

Once, this C segment/Compact model was really a small car for the US market which happened to also be available in other places. That all changed with the previous generation as sales took off in China. Customers there love the four-door Civic, just as they do in North America, but the Type R has always been a hatchback. Why Honda doesn’t do a sedan is something of a mystery too; after all, the same-sized albeit far more expensive Audi RS 3 comes in both such body styles.

The XL-sized black wing on the tailgate of this car marks it out at once as the fastest Civic, blistered wheel arches stating the same thing. The tyres are ultra-wide for a Golf-sized hatchback and their profile is similarly low. Which only makes what is relatively compliant suspension hewn from metal even more impressive.

Fifty thousand pounds, or more

Many other fast cars – mainly EVs – have a pneumatic set-up but a more traditional approach of conventional springs and shocks also makes the Type R easier for modifiers. And there are many of those when it comes to every generation of this model series. With the basic vehicle costing fifty thousand pounds, the typical buyer likely will not worry too much about the prices of aftermarket mods either. You can also easily spend a lot more on official options and accessories.

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Will that steep pricing make the car a rare sight in the UK? Yes, and no. Mindful not to be penalised for selling too many examples in Britain and greater Europe, Honda restricts exports of the hottest Civic. In this country, that means annual sales volume in the hundreds. Which also explains why driving one tends to cause excitement from many – yes, almost always young and male – admirers.

Excitement guaranteed, whatever the weather

The car lent to me for a week was bright red, or at least it was on the day of delivery. The black wheels and Ferrari F1 car-like colour soon became somewhat less pristine as the rain got heavier day by day and muddy puddles formed on what seemed to be every road on which I drove.

Even in wet weather, the Type R is one of the most exciting vehicles on sale in 2024. Does it need four-wheel drive? No it does not. The clever differential all but prevents understeer and the front tyres are incredibly hard to unstick, at least on dry roads.

Rain and standing water do their best to make you back off – and you should, for the sake of safety – yet the steering is so brilliantly communicative and at the same time free of kick-back, that the Civic remains rapid and secure, damp be damned.

Are there any faults?

Some might wonder why in winter such an expensive car lacks heating for the steering wheel and front seats, especially when cheaper Honda models have both. I have more or less zero bad things to say about the Type R as its Alcantara-wrapped and covered interior surfaces don’t even seem to get cold. The aluminium ball atop the gear lever does though – very cold in fact. So that can be my one criticism of the car. It looks so good I would not change it, mind.

Another great thing about the interior is all the red trim bits, and that includes the low-level lighting plus carpeting, mats and trim stitching. Even the gear-change pattern atop the sphere is that colour, while the start-stop button glows vermilion.

Rev-matching with throttle-blipping

One press and the K20C1 engine fires to a fast idle, this turbocharged 1,996 cc four-cylinder unit producing 242 kW (329 PS) and 420 Nm. The gear lever snicks into every ratio with utmost precision and there is rev-matching with throttle-blipping. Seven thousand revolutions per minute is the maximum and this engine will get there easily. It also sounds fantastic, even if some of the delicious noise is artificially generated. At least all three tailpipes (a middle one is larger than the pair which flank it) are real.

Outside, Honda has even given the Type R its own front end with the fog lights of the e:HEV (hybrid) replaced by vertical air intakes for what are special Brembo brakes. The bonnet vent is functional and the rear diffuser too (this is a 171 mph car after all), while that engine hood is aluminium and the tailgate resin. These help with the kerb weight, which is 1,429 kilos. Zero to sixty two mph takes 5.4 seconds, incidentally. Incredibly, fuel economy is even very good, my 32 mpg average being easily bettered if an owner spent most of them time at a steady 50 mph on A roads or 30 on B roads. Which I did not.

The people who buy a Type R will not care that there are just four seats – Honda puts two cup holders where a middle occupant would otherwise sit – but the 410/1,212-litre boot capacity (VDA) is excellent. Really, this is an astonishingly practical car as not even the front air dam is especially low and visibility is terrific.


Can a case for this as an almost sensible family car be made? It most certainly can, and even the pricing is acceptable – so many EVs cost far more and are way more challenging to live with. I know what I would rather be doing a long trip in this Easter weekend with the inevitable queues at motorway chargers. So until the electric era eventually becomes a mainstream thing, a business case for this sensational Honda can definitely be made as an almost pragmatic choice.

The Honda Civic Type R costs from GBP49,995. The C02 average is 186 g/km.