It’s always a pretty good start for a manufacturer when it looks to facelift a car which is already the best in its class. And that’s true here with the Honda Civic Type R – a car that has proven unbeatable in the front-wheel-drive hot hatch segment.
But while this Honda may have had its own way for some time, it’s got quite fierce competition from the likes of Volkswagen with its Golf GTI and Hyundai with its excellent i30 N.
So to ensure that it remains unbeatable, Honda has given it a number of tweaks, which are predominantly mechanical. These include upgraded suspension, two-piece floating brake discs and pads, while a pair of new trim levels join the range. These include a more subtle Sport Line model, which features more subtle styling, as well as a Limited Edition version that features other mechanical tweaks and a stripped out interior shaving 47kg from the weight.
One thing that hasn’t changed on this updated Honda Civic Type R is its engine, with the same 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 316bhp and 400Nm of torque being used.
It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox delivering power to the front wheels, and it can manage the 0-60mph sprint in just 5.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 169mph.
It’s a great engine that feels quite old school in character, with its power coming later in the rev range, meaning that hard driving is joyous.
While efficiency is unlikely to be the top priority here, Honda claims it’ll return 33.2mpg, along with CO2 emissions of 193g/km.
Ride and handling
Honda manages to back up that superb engine with a truly excellent chassis, and the changes made to the suspension have only improved the driving experience even further – building on the stunning handling and fun factor that was already the Type R’s USP.
Despite a firm ride, it’s not too stiff and never feels unsettled even on a bumpier road. We also got the chance to briefly try the Civic out on track, which is where its potential is really unlocked – not least with the outstanding levels of grip through the corners that means you can really push on with confidence.
Interior and equipment
Interior quality has never been the Type R’s strong point, and it’s something that Honda has not really changed, meaning the cabin feels a bit cheap inside and the infotainment system lags behind rivals. That said, it certainly feels sporty, as it comes with red bucket seats as standard as well as a new Alcantara steering wheel and carbon-effect trim.
It also remains really quite practical, even despite its performance tweaks. There’s plenty of space in the back seats while the 420-litre boot is a good size and only beaten for size by the Skoda Octavia vRS. It certainly makes the Type R quite well-suited to daily duties.
Three grades are available on the Type R – the standard model, the Sport Line and the GT.
All versions come well-equipped with a host of safety kit, an Alcantara steering wheel, automatic lights and wipers and a seven-inch touchscreen with a reversing camera. GT models bring blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors and satellite navigation. Meanwhile the subtler Sport Line grade brings smaller 19-inch alloy wheels (20s are standard), black seats and a smaller rear spoiler.
Prices for the Type R start from £32,820, which makes it quite good value compared to the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI, though the Hyundai i30 N is a more affordable option.
GT or Sport Line versions are the most appealing, though, thanks to their far more generous equipment list, while adding just £2,000 to the price.
If you want a fun front-wheel-drive hot hatchback, there remains no better option on sale today than this Honda Civic Type R. It already was brilliant to drive, but slight mechanical tweaks have only made it even better.
While the interior might not be quite as plush or user-friendly as rivals, if you value driving pleasure above all else, the Type R is truly unbeatable.