2018 Honda Civic Type R
2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (306 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 295 lb-ft @ 2,500-4,500 rpm)
Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
22 city / 28 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
10.6 city, 8.3 highway, 9.6 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price: $34,700 (U.S) / $42,876 (Canada)
As Tested: $35,595 (U.S.) / $24,080 (Canada)
Prices include $895 destination charge in the United States and $1,886 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
My first press trip as the M.E. at this august website had me driving the Honda Civic Type R on a track outside Seattle. And on road, as well. I pronounced it worthy of the hype.
So naturally, I had to see how it handled the daily grind. There’d be no track driving – I asked, but Honda would’ve needed to do special prep, so that was a no-go – so treks to the grocery store and the suburbs would have to suffice.
Was it still “all that?” In a word, yes.
The Type R might be the best driver’s car on the road right now that’s available for a sticker price of under $40K. Calm down, Miata and GTI fans – I said “might be,” and I’m also aware that Type Rs usually go for way above MSRP.
That last bit is unfortunate, as it has the potential to keep some buyers away. They’ll be missing out on a car with a chassis and steering that feels almost like an extension of your body, tremendous brakes, and a shifter that’s near perfect.
Usually, cars of this type require a sacrifice in ride quality, but the Type R is tolerable on the freeway, especially with the drive mode switched to “comfort.” Tolerable is a relative term – it’s still a stiff ride – but it punishes less on the freeway than a WRX.
While tracking the car was out of the question, I did have an opportunity to push it on a winding road north of Chicago. As expected, the Type R gripped nicely on dry pavement, with sharp moves that betray no hint of drama. You’ll get some understeer, and a little bit of water in one corner forced me to slow things down, but this thing is just a grin machine.
Not only is it a blast to drive through sharp corners, it’s also relaxed. Not as high strung as a Ford Focus RS, for example. You can hustle this thing or cruise it to dinner. It helps that you can adjust the ride/response via the drive modes – comfort, sport, and +R. Again, the ride remains somewhat stiff even in comfort – longer road trips may get tiring. But it’s acceptable enough for commuting duty.
Honda has the steering perfectly dialed in, and the clutch and shifter are about as close to flawless as you’ll find on the market these days. As a bonus, there’s a rev-matching system, and the stick pairs with a limited-slip differential. The Brembo brakes are stout without being grabby.
This car isn’t just a handler – the 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque on tap from the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder are evident throughout most of the rev range, and there’s little turbo lag. Punch it in the lower gears and you’ll be a scootin’.
As great as the Type R is on the road, it’s not without flaws. We all know about the wing – there’s no getting around how ugly it is, functional though it may be. At least it doesn’t really block rearward visibility. For the most part.
The bolstered seats that hug you so well on track offer an acceptable level of comfort for shorter drives, but can be a little tiresome if you’re behind the wheel for over 90 minutes or so.
Inside, the cabin is a mess of silly graphics and odd angles on the dash, yet it still sort of works. The volume knob had not yet returned as of 2018, and the silver shift knob will likely burn or freeze driver’s hands in the summer and winter, respectively.
Features wise, there were no options, but standard features included Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, navigation, USB, Android Auto, Bluetooth, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, 20-inch wheels, summer tires, LED fog lamps, LED headlamps, and LED taillights.
Road noise can be a concern with cars of this ilk, and the Type R does suffer from exhaust drone and tire noise during freeway slogs. The three-pipe exhaust with resonator may prevent high-rpm booming noises, but it doesn’t make the background soundtrack pleasant when highway cruising.
For what it’s worth, the low tire pressure warning light popped on during my time with the car, but no tires were actually short on PSI, at least not by eyeball test (I was sans pressure gauge when the light came on). I was told the fleet had replaced tires and perhaps brake pads for one reason or another before my loan, so I chalked it up to one of three things: A bad sensor, a tech who forgot to reset the sensor, or a sudden change in temp leading to a small pressure change (the kind that wouldn’t affect ride but would cause alarm among the electronics).
Living with a track-focused sports car is often an exercise in compromise, but a relatively stiff ride and short-haul-only seats were the only real drawbacks of grocery getting in a Type R. That, and the stares. You aren’t winning any automotive beauty contests with this thing.
Rare is the track car that can be easily daily driven, and the Civic Type R fits that bill. If you can live with the boy-racer styling, you’ll live happily with this track-ready ride.
[Images: Tim Healey/TTAC]