Sweet & Spicy: The 2023 Honda Civic Type R Arrives as Most Powerful Type R Yet

We were giddy when Honda unveiled the all-new Civic Si based on the eleventh-gen Civic hatchback. Moreover, we were mildly concerned about its 1.5-liter turbocharged four-banger having five less horsepower than the previous Civic Si. But with the much-awaited arrival of the 2023 Honda Civic Type R, the automaker laid to rest our anxieties of a severely watered-down and subdued version of a track-ready compact vehicle.

It starts with more power under the hood – enough to become the most potent Honda production vehicle sold in the United States – and a collection of specifically-engineered parts to make it go faster, corner harder, and brake stronger than any Type R before it.

“Type R is very important for Honda as the pinnacle of our factory performance and an irreplaceable brand that enables enthusiasts to experience Honda’s racing spirit and seek the ultimate in speed and driving pleasure,” said Hideki Kakinuma, Global Civic Type R Development Leader.

2023 Honda Civic Type R: Brief History

The 2023 Civic Type R is only the second Type R to enter the U.S. market officially. Honda christened the Type R name to the first-gen NSX supercar in 1992. The Integra Type R followed in 1995 before the first Civic Type R came into existence in 1997 with the sixth-gen JDM Civic SiR. Diehard fans may recall the NSX R GT. Only five were built in 2005, and each one was painted Championship White.

The 2023 Type R is the sixth-gen variant of Honda’s iconic sport compact, and it proved its wares at the Suzuka Circuit before its official reveal, setting a new lap record for a front-wheel drive car. It did it in two minutes 23.120 seconds, cementing its legacy as the speediest and most capable Type R yet.

2023 Honda Civic Type R
2023 Honda Civic Type R. Photo: Honda North America.

More Power + Manual Stick = Sheepish Grin

Under the new Type R’s aluminum vented hood is a highly-tuned version of Honda’s 2.0-liter K20C1 four-cylinder gas engine. It has an updated turbocharger, a new straight-through exhaust system with an active exhaust valve, and an increased air intake flow rate to churn out 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque, the latter arriving from 2,600 to 4,000 rpm. The new Civic Type R has nine more horses and 15 more lb-ft. of torque while pumping out 157.8 horsepower per liter – the highest specific output of any Civic Type R.

The engine sends power to the front wheels using a six-speed manual gearbox. Honda makes one of the best manual sticks in the business, and we do not doubt that its lighter flywheel, helical-type limited-slip differential, and improved rev-matching feature make it more rewarding when crashing through the gears. Sweetening the pot is a high-rigidity shift lever and an optimized shift gate pattern for hyper-precise gear changes that’ll make you feel like a racing deity on the road.

Stronger Legs

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R has a 1.4-inch longer wheelbase than the Civic Hatchback. Moreover, it has a wider track (front and rear) and a more rigid architecture. It’s also 0.8-inches longer and half an inch lower to the ground than the plebian Civic Hatchback. Suspending the powertrain, driveline, and chassis is a reconfigured dual-axis strut front and multilink rear suspension that Honda promises will offer better steering and straight-line stability. Meanwhile, the anchors are two-piece front rotors and a retuned brake booster to provide better braking stamina when the going gets hot.

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R has four pre-set driving modes: Comfort, Sport, R+, and Individual. The latter will enable you to tune the engine response, suspension, steering, and exhaust sound.

2023 Honda Civic Type R
Photo: Honda North America.

Restrained Styling

When mentioning the Civic Type R, the first thing that enters our minds are spoilers, scoops, fins, and ungainly aero bits – not anymore. The new Type R is a champion of restraint in its appearance except for its extreme-looking rear wing. Honda said the 2023 Type R has new body panels from the A-pillar forward, including a bespoke front bumper design and a custom rear bumper. In addition, it has wider rear doors that are exclusive to the 2023 Civic Type R.

Rounding up its “gentleman racer” vibe (a significant upgrade from the outgoing Type R’s boy racer charm) are three round exhaust tips and a new rear diffuser to improve downforce while reducing drag. Also standard are 19-inch matte black wheels wrapped in sticky and broader Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. Honda said the alloys have a “reverse rim” design that improves the tire contact patch.

Honda will sell the Civic Type R in five custom body colors, including Rallye Red, Crystal Black Pearl, Sonic Grey Pearl, and the iconic Championship White revered by Honda fans.

Performance-Focused Cabin

Inside the 2023 Honda Civic Type R are new body-stabilizing, heavily-bolstered front sport seats wrapped in a suede-like upholstery to keep your love handles stable when attacking corners. The driver can access a revised digital instrument cluster with multiple display options. Of course, the instrument panel features a large tachometer, a gear-position display, and a second meter for the R+ driving mode.

A new and exclusive feature in the Civic Type R is an optimized version of the Honda LogR Performance Datalogger. The system analyzes sensor readings and the vehicle’s onboard computer to bring neat track-ready features like a stopwatch to record your lap times, a scoring function, and a tire friction circle rendered in 3D to display the maximum tire force. Honda LogR does not require a smartphone app to operate, but you can connect it to your iOS or Android device to share your lap times with friends and other Type R owners.

Other standard features include a nine-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging, and a Bose premium audio system.

2023 Honda Civic TypeR 27
2023 Honda Civic Type R interior layout. Photo: Honda North America.

2023 Honda Civic Type R: Pricing & Availability

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R will start arriving at U.S. dealerships in the fall of 2022. Pricing remains forthcoming, but we reckon Honda needs to target a sub-$40,000 base price to retain the Civic Type R’s bang-for-the-buck persona. All Civic Type Rs are built at Honda’s Yori Plant in Japan, while production for its K20C1 engine is at the automaker’s Anna Engine Plant in Sidney, Ohio, using global and domestically sourced parts.

Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.

Photos & Source: Honda North America.