While other markets worldwide have been enjoying the Honda Civic Type R for more than two decades now, the introduction of the generation 10-based Civic Type R in 2017 also meant the model was finally crossing the pond and coming over to America. Though compact and subcompact SUVs are taking the market by storm, compact cars still have a place in Canadians’ hearts, especially when compact comes with the hot hatch moniker. The new Type R definitely fits the bill.
Despite “only” running on a 2.0L engine, four-cylinder engine, Honda has managed to wring out an impressive amount of power out of the R’s block thanks to the addition of a turbocharger. The Type R is good for 306 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. Yep, we’re talking about a Civic. An angry, angry Civic.
Sticking to their performance guns
This positions the Civic favourably in the segment — it offers the highest output of the segment, just above the Subaru WRX STI. Once you decide to opt for this top-shelf trim level, you have to accept that Honda doesn’t joke about performance. No fancy dual-clutch automatic to spare you the third pedal. Honda’s message is clear: You want a performance car, you get a stick and a clutch.
The Civic helps you out a little, however, and does all the rev-matching work for you. It sounds a little weird if it’s something you’re familiar with and are used to doing yourself. Hearing the system increases the engine’s revolutions on its one when you downshift is a bit bizarre but I can’t say I found it particularly intrusive.
In case the “normal” Type R on its own doesn’t quench your thirst for power, you only need to flick the Type R switch to make the Type R more Type R-y. The drive mode amps the engine up, stiffens the suspension, and adds more resistance in the steering wheel.
All the power is sent to the front wheels, unlike some of its competitors who get the all-wheel drive. Despite the front axle receiving all the pull, the car is surprisingly trigger happy. It’s incredibly twitchy and a simple turn at an intersection requires that you tug on the leash: the tail end kind of wants to do its own thing. I did not expect that from a front-wheel-drive.
Body-wise, Honda didn’t change the essence of the Civic. In fact, except for the overall length, the Type R has the same measurements as the Civic Hatchback. All that aggressiveness comes from the addition of a body kit, massive 20-inch wheels, and the hard-to-miss wing at the top of the hatch. While some makers bank on weight reduction to improve performance, Soichiro’s brand didn’t worry about adding to the car and banked on the output to compensate — the Type R weighs in at a non-neglectable 1,415 kg.
Who said performance cars can’t also be practical? Because it’s based on the Civic Hatchback, the Type R’s interior space is surprisingly roomy. The rear seats are easy to access and behold—the legroom really is quite impressive. My 5’8” stature had room to spare sitting behind the driver seat. You’re probably going to become the coolest parent on the block if your kids are seeing hopping out of the back at school. This is actually a great track-ready car that has no issues doubling as an everyday life vehicle—it comes almost fully loaded. I say “almost” because the heated seats and steering wheel are missing features, sacrificed to the Gods of Performance.
Ultimately, the Civic Type R is a glorified hatchback with a price tag that could get you into entry-level premium brands but I can guarantee you entry-level premium isn’t this fun. The Type R blurs the line between performance and versatility and does so quite efficiently.
Model: 2019 Honda Civic Type R
Engine: 2.0L, I-4, turbocharged, 306 horsepower
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
NRCan rating (L/100km city/highway): 10.6/8.3
Length: 4,557 mm
Width: 2,087 mm
Wheelbase: 2,700 mm
Weight: 1,415 kg
Price: $41,690 base, $43,476 as tested, including freight
Competition: Hyundai Veloster N, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Volkswagen Golf R
Standard equipment: 3-mode drive system, Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist, 20" aluminum-alloy wheels, Sport performance tires, Agile Handling Assist, Brembo 4-piston aluminum front brake calipers, HondaLink Assist Automatic Emergency Response System, Honda LaneWatch blind spot display, Aluminum hood with air intake, Triple centre exhaust with chrome finisher, Heated power door mirrors, Red Honda "H" badges, 7" colour TFT centre meter display with Driver Information Interface, Acoustic windshield, Dual Zone Automatic climate control with air-filtration system, Display Audio System with Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with bilingual Voice Recognition, HandsFreeLink bilingual Bluetooth wireless mobile phone interface, Multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, Proximity key entry system with pushbutton start, Steering wheel-mounted cruise control, Wireless charging, 542-watt AM/FM Premium audio system with MP3/Windows Media Audio playback capability and 12 speakers including subwoofer, Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, Bluetooth Streaming Audio, Siri Eyes Free compatibility, SMS text message / E-mail function, Speed-sensitive Volume Control, USB device connector, Wi-Fi tethering