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Putting the "R" in Racing: The Honda Civic Type R

A new Honda Civic for sale, a white 2023 Honda Civic Type R is shown.

Your search for a Honda Civic for sale is about to get even more exciting with the debut of the 2023 Civic Type R. The latest iteration in the Type R racing family promises to write a new chapter of speed and power in the automaker's history. It's also only the second generation of the Civic Type R that is available to American drivers. The excitement is palpable as Americans will soon get another taste of what was once Honda's forbidden fruit.

Offering incredible performance, the Civic Type R delivers an engaging and exhilarating experience behind the wheel. You can expect that experience to reach an entirely new level in 2023, especially with improved aerodynamics that position the redesigned car lower to the ground. The new 2023 Honda Civic Type R is everything you imagine a sports car should be.

30 Years in the Making: A Progression of Power

Honda introduced the Civic Type R in the late 1990s, turning heads when it transformed the sixth-generation Civic into a Type R for the first time in 1997. The Civic Type R has been a Honda staple ever since, at least in Japan and Europe, where drivers have enjoyed decades of speed and sporty performance with every subsequent generation. So, what's the Civic Type R's progression of power, and how does it set the stage for the 2023 Civic Type R and its promise to be better than its predecessors

182 Horses

The Civic Type R made its official debut in 1997 as a three-door hatchback available only in Japan. Its exclusivity made it even more enticing as its 1.6L engine churned out 182 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque, an incredibly high output for an engine of its size. The hatchback's helical limited-slip differential and Honda's success at reducing the model's weight optimized handling and responsiveness. Still, the Type R engineers knew the Civic Type R had more to offer. So they returned to the drawing board to find ways to increase the hatchback's speed and capability. They also set out to make the Civic Type R more than a race car with a license plate and few comforts.

A close up of the engine in a 2023 Honda Civic Type R is shown.

212 Horses

The Civic Type R returned for its second generation in 2001, making history as the first Civic Type R built in the United Kingdom rather than Japan. Still a three-door hatchback, the Civic Type R broadened its horizons as Honda made it available in Europe and Japan. However, Japanese drivers had a clear advantage, with the Japanese model boasting shorter gearing and a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that delivered 212 hp, some 15 horses more than the European alternative.

222 Horses

Speed remained a theme for the Civic Type R, especially with the debut of the third-generation model in 2007. This time, Honda offered the Civic Type R in two body styles, depending on the market. In Japan, the Civic Type R was available as a four-door sedan, but it remained a three-door hatchback in the European market. Japanese regulations also allowed the Civic Type R to have more power, pushing the powerplant to 222 hp and 159 lb-ft of torque, a stark contrast to the European model, which delivered 198 hp and 142 lb-ft of torque.

306 Horses

By its fourth generation, the Civic Type R was renowned worldwide for its speed and agility, although it remained a forbidden fruit for drivers beyond Europe and Asia. This exclusivity added to its lure, especially when Honda took the Civic Type R back to its roots in 2015 and debuted a five-door hatchback with an all-new, turbocharged powertrain. The direct-injection turbocharged 2.0L engine marked the first time a turbo made its way under the hood of a Civic Type R.

Two years later, the fifth generation Civic Type R finally brought the car to America. With the same 2.0L turbocharged powerplant providing 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, the fifth-generation Civic Type R set a new production front-wheel drive record of 7 minutes and 43.8 seconds at the Nürburgring in Germany.[a]

Looking to the Future: The 2023 Civic Type R

The Civic Type R's progression of power is remarkable because it showcases Honda's commitment to constantly improving and evolving every aspect of its lineup. We see this with the upcoming 2023 model, as Honda's engineers set out to make the newest Civic Type R more exciting, powerful, and capable than ever. While official details are scarce, the Civic Type R will undoubtedly deliver more than 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, and that alone is enough to get any driver excited.

New Transmission

The Civic Type R's proven six-speed manual transmission sees a notable update for 2023 and considers novice drivers who want to experience everything the Civic Type R offers. Manual transmissions give drivers a physical connection to the vehicle but require precision and accuracy, which inexperienced drivers often lack. To accommodate this, Honda sets the stage for smooth and fast gear changes with its automatic rev-matching system. The system automatically raises the engine revs when downshifting, eliminating the need for drivers to manually rev match and ensuring smooth operation.

New Suspension

Honda also improves the Civic Type R's suspension, utilizing a multi-link rear suspension with an L-shape front suspension to improve handling, stability, and overall comfort. While previous models were fun and responsive, the new 2023 Civic Type R takes this to the next level and is enjoyable to drive on the track and in town. To accomplish this, Honda developed a suspension to keep the tires firmly on the ground, using a dual axis strut suspension in the front but changing the lower arm to an L-shape. In addition, Honda used a multi-link suspension in the rear to improve ride comfort and overall flexibility.

The red and black interior of a 2022 Honda Civic Type R shows the dashboard.

Steering Improvements

For 2023, the Civic Type R broadens its horizons and again makes its way to America. This broader demographic of drivers inspired Honda to improve the Civic Type R's steering, dramatically enhancing the driver experience beyond the track. For example, the engineers designed the shape of the steering wheel to provide a firm grip for improved control and fine-tuned many components behind the scenes. Additionally, the engineers expanded the Civic Type R's available drive modes by adding an exclusive display for the "+R" track mode.

It's All in the Details

The Civic Type R's progression of power over the last three decades is remarkable, pushing the race car from an impressive 182 hp 1.6L engine to a turbocharged powerplant with an output north of 306 hp. This evolution showcases the Civic Type R's racing heritage, and in light of the upcoming 2023 model, it shows there's more to the Civic Type R than Honda originally envisioned.

For decades, the Civic Type R's limited availability outside the Asian and European markets made it a forbidden fruit for drivers in America. Further, its original lightweight, high-performance design left much to be desired beyond the race track. However, Honda addressed these issues, and the new 2023 Civic Type R meets the broader performance needs of drivers in America and beyond. As a result, the 2023 Civic Type R is no longer solely focused on track performance but has evolved to deliver exceptional on-road handling and everyday comfort, allowing more drivers to experience every aspect of the speed demon's remarkable legacy.


[a]2017 Honda Civic Type R set a Nürburgring lap record for a front-wheel drive production car. For more information, visit HONDANEWS.COM.