2023 Honda Civic Type R Review: Anything But Ordinary

2023 honda civic type r

Alanis King

When Formula 1 rolled into Austin’s Circuit of The Americas – a $300 million grand prix palace – last week, I was about 30 miles away on a small club track called Harris Hill Raceway, waiting for my turn to get into the new 2023 Honda. Civic Type R. A group of us stood at Harris Hill’s front end and watched rows of Type Rs race past in a hypnotic rhythm.

“It’s a bit like a chord, isn’t it?” someone nearby joked. I laughed – not because it was necessarily true, but because it underlined how understated the new Type R looks, above all. For a car that is meant to be tracked, shifted and shown off.

But when I got behind the wheel, I realized I’d been looking at it the wrong way.

2023 honda civic type r

The outgoing Civic Type R (left) and new ones (right).

Honda

The 2023 Type R is the high-performance version of the current 11th generation Civic. It’s only the second Civic Type R model to come to the United States, and it has 315 horsepower, 310 lb-ft peak torque, a six-speed manual transmission, a standard limited-slip differential, and a lighter flywheel, with oddly mature exterior styling. The soft, flowing lines of the new Type R blend into the traffic instead of screaming through it – a significant departure from the last model, which looked like a sharp, angular kid’s toy waiting to slice your hand open when you hit it. picks up.

For me, the pubescent look of the outgoing Type R made it special. It leaned against the ‘hot hatch’ identity, unafraid of what adults thought. So when the new car looked like an adult, I was afraid it would lose its magic.

2023 honda civic type r

Alanis King

I donned a white, faceless helmet and walked to my Type R for the day: a “Championship White” model that I would get to do a total of six laps around Harris Hill’s fast 2.8-mile track. My mind raced through the thought of whether I would like it, love it, or even have enough time to decide.

But when I walked in, those worries disappeared. I no longer saw the car around me, only the track in front of it. I sank into the deep red seats of the car, which Honda calls “race-inspired” because they look like race seats but aren’t. Racing seats are hard, uncomfortable and pinch my hips, while these racing-inspired seats were thick, soft and hugged me instead – the perfect combination.

2023 honda civic type r

Honda

Last week was my first time in a Type R model and it was a breeze to drive. When I turned the car on and pushed the gear stick out of neutral a bit (which I was aiming for) to search for sport mode in the options menu, I didn’t even notice the car stalling. It was undetectable – no sway, no intense feedback when I took my foot off the clutch. Just a quick, quiet, unshattering death.

I turned the Type R back on and took off, analyzing the track I’d first seen that morning. I slid through the first few corners, amazed at how instantly comfortable it was.

2023 honda civic type r

Honda

Each shift was smooth and easy, and as I accelerated, the Type R adapted. The steering was weighted but not particularly heavy and slid into all my entrances instead of vibrating with it. It wasn’t the crazy hot hatch I imagined; it was the kind of smooth ride I could get on a road trip and have no regrets.

2023 honda civic type r

Alanis King

The Type R held steady with every move—braking hard, cornering a little too hot, dropping it straight to the ground—because I was the least of his worries that day. Red Bull Formula 1 drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez had done about a dozen hot laps in the cars just minutes earlier, and even when they were on the brink of impressing passengers like me, the Type R was calm. From a front-wheel drive car on the cheaper end of the performance spectrum, the Type R’s composure was as impressive as the talent of the drivers.

When I got out of the car, I looked at it one more time – I was actually looking at it, unlike before.

It was different this time. I saw more details: the small wing tips on the outer corners of the headlights; the sharp muzzle just above the Honda logo on the front; and the body lines flow to its elegant rear wing, which takes on the same shape as its curved taillights.

2023 honda civic type r

Honda

The more subtle styling started to make sense, given both the Type R’s market placement and how it drove. While the old car debuted in 2017 at a base price of $33,900, this new one is $42,895 — a fair evolution considering inflation and rising cost of living, but still a big investment for a buyer. Car prices that start with a “4” are for adults with mature jobs, and they have to look good. Adults.

When I realized that, I no longer felt like comparing the look of this car with the outgoing one. I knew the two could co-exist: the old, more youthful version, which insisted that looks aren’t just a phase; and the new, more mature, which values ​​timeless fashion over current trends. The magic of the old car was not gone. It just grew up, as we all must eventually.

2023 honda civic type r

Alanis King

I started the day thinking the new Type R looked too ordinary, and I think the people around me did too. But the Type R reminded me that if you think something is ordinary, you’re just not looking at it hard enough — and that’s a problem only you can solve.

Alanis King Contributing Editor Alanis King is a transportation editor at Business Insider and previously worked as a staff writer and editor at Jalopnik.

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