2024 Honda Civic Type R review: Track test

10 minutes, 55 seconds Read

We already know the Honda Civic Type R is an accomplished, a great even, hot hatch. But how does that translate to the racetrack? Rob Margeit finds out.

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What we love
  • Excels as a track-day weapon
  • Manual gearbox is a delight
  • Beautifully poised and balanced chassis
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What we don’t
  • Price tag sits at the upper end of the hot hatch segment…
  • … and it’s way more expensive than the previous Type R
  • Could be a touch more raucous

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2024 Honda Civic Type R

Seven minutes, 44.881 seconds.

That’s how long it took for this current-generation Honda Civic Type R to etch its name into the halls of hot hatch greatness. Not that the Type R didn’t already enjoy a place on the podium.

But its 7min 44.881sec lap of the feared and famed Nürburgring Nordschleife in 2023, the fastest ever by a front-wheel-drive car, elevated, and then cemented its place in the pantheon of Hot Hatch Greatness.

Of course, we already know the Civic Type R is one of the greats, has been since the very first one launched way back in 1997. Six (or seven if you count 2007’s Japanese-market only FD2 sedan model) generations later, and it is not only as good as it has ever been, but greater still.

It’s the embodiment of Honda’s philosophy of improvement where each successive model must be better than the one preceding it.

We’ve spent plenty of time behind the wheel of this latest generation (model code FL5) Civic Type R since it launched in Australia earlier this year. But the one thing we haven’t done is allowed Honda’s latest hot hatch to showcase its abilities in its natural habitat.

The 3.41km West Circuit at the Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia isn’t quite the 20.8 kilometres of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, though it trumps the 1.4km Haunted Hills circuit where we first took the Civic Type R to battle the Toyota GR Corolla. But its 12 corners provided the perfect canvas to showcase the Type R’s abilities at racetrack speeds.

How much does the Honda Civic Type R cost in Australia?

With a nationwide drive-away price of $72,600, the 2024 Honda Civic Type R scales the upper reaches of the hot hatch segment. That represents a $17,600 performance premium over the next-nearest Civic in the range, the hybrid e:HEV LX that wants for $55,000. It’s also around $12,000 more than the older-model Civic Type R, a not-insignificant price bump.

Powering the Civic Type R is an uprated version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine (internal code K20C1) as found in the previous-generation Type R. But it’s been given an engineering makeover and now makes 235kW and 420Nm, increases of 8kW and 20Nm respectively over the older model.

Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission with a mechanical limited-slip differential. There is no automatic transmission, dual-clutch or otherwise, available on the Type R. Old school. Perfect.

Exterior enhancements distinguishing the Type R from lesser Civics include a new front bumper and splitter designed to reduce side wake, while aero garnishes on the front fenders help to minimise air pressure build-up inside the wheel wells.

Out back, a new rear bumper and diffuser house the Type R’s triple exhaust tips that not only look racy, but in full song howl with a throaty and menacing snarl that makes the skin tingle. Perched nearly on top of the tailgate, a new rear wing keeps the Civic Type R’s rear-end firmly planted.

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Black 19-inch alloys shod in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S rubber are unique to the Type R, as are the almost-DayGlo red Brembo brake calipers housed inside them.

Just four colours make up the Civic Type R palette – Rally Red, Championship White, Sonic Grey and Crystal Black. All are available as a no-cost option. My pick of the bunch is white, which works so beautifully with the Type R’s subtle but distinctive black and red exterior enhancements.

Inside, there’s no hiding from the Type R’s signature red. It’s everywhere – from the seats to the seatbelts, carpets and endless lines of contrast stitching.

It’s a special cabin, the Type R’s, at once purposeful but with enough special touches – such as the mesh inlay running the length of the dash and the cool-to-the-touch gear knob – that rise to the occasion. Slide inside and you’ll feel like your $72,600 has been well spent.

The seats themselves, supremely bolstered sports buckets up front, are covered in a grippy suede-effect material to stop you sliding around under load. Similarly, the steering wheel features Alcantara suede-effect material, albeit finished in black.

Rivals to the Civic Type R are increasingly thin on the ground, and thinning more as manufacturers make the gradual transition to battery-electric hot hatches.

Alternatives include the Hyundai i30 N hatchback (from $46,200 plus on-road costs) or the Volkswagen Golf GTI (from $56,090). Both are more affordable than the Honda and both are front-wheel drive, like the Type R, but only the Hyundai can be had with a manual gearbox, the Golf GTI now exclusively fitted with a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Closer to the Honda in terms of pricing are the Volkswagen Golf R (from $70,590) and Toyota GR Corolla GTS (from $64,190). But that pair sits on all-wheel-drive platforms and both are quicker to the benchmark 0–100km/h sprint.

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How fast is the Honda Civic Type R?

The 2024 Honda Civic Type R can, according to its maker, complete the sprint from 0–100km/h in 5.4 seconds. Top speed is a claimed 275km/h.

That makes it quicker, certainly in terms of acceleration, than its front-wheel-drive rivals like the Volkswagen Golf GTI (6.4 seconds) and Hyundai i30 N hatchback (5.9sec manual, and 5.4sec dual-clutch).

To find faster accelerating hot hatches, you need all-wheel-drive underpinnings. The Volkswagen Golf R completes the benchmark sprint in 4.6sec, while the Toyota GR Corolla (5.3sec) shades the Civic by the smallest of margins, just 0.1sec quicker from standstill to 100km/h.

But the measure of the Civic Type R, or any performance car, isn’t just about straight-line acceleration. To be considered a true great, speed needs to blend with dynamism to create a car that can be driven with purpose and confidence. It needs to excite and inspire, to corner with surety and to stop predictably. And when it’s finished pounding the track, it needs to double up as a comfortable daily driver, equally at home on our suburban roads as it is on our racetracks.

So how did the Civic Type R comport itself on the track? Let’s find out.

2024 Honda Civic Type R
Seats Four
Boot volume 410L
Length 4606mm
Width 1890mm
Height 1407mm
Wheelbase 2735mm

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Is the Honda Civic Type R fuel-efficient?

Honda claims the Civic Type R will use 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle. Our track test precluded us from gaining a reliable consumption reading. Previous road tests, encompassing urban, freeway and a smattering of track driving, have returned an indicated 11.0L/100km.

The Type R’s 47-litre fuel tank requires 95-octane unleaded at a minimum.

Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 8.9L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) Not recorded
Fuel type 95-octane premium unleaded
Fuel tank size 47L

What is the Honda Civic Type R like to drive?

We’ve spent plenty of time behind the wheel of the Civic Type R on Australia’s roads and have come away, despite the limiting canvas of speed limits and social constraints, impressed with just how good Honda’s performance hatchback is as a daily driver. As a refresher, you can read our reviews here.

Today, though, is about exploring its potential on the racetrack where the Civic Type R should feel right at home.

The Bend Motorsport Park’s 3.41km-long West Circuit offers the perfect canvas. Its blend of tight turns, constant-radius corners, sweeping bends and a 1km-long straight should showcase the Civic Type R’s dynamic abilities.

And from the first tentative laps, it’s soon apparent Honda’s performance hatch is amongst the very best in the genre.

Bury the throttle, and the 2.0-litre turbo-four barks into angry life. Revolutions build faster than you can imagine, the warning shift-lights flashing eagerly at you, imploring you to change gears. Third, bang! Fourth, bang! Fifth, bang! They happen in the blink of an eye.

And they are joyful, with the Civic’s beautifully tight gear shift action a tactile experience. You can feel the mechanical linkages through the palms of your hands with every gear change, a connection between driver and car increasingly rare these days.

Downshifts are accompanied by the Civic Type R’s rev-matching function, an electronic blip of the throttle that not only sounds good, but eliminates the need for heel-toeing, leaving you to focus on the corner looming large and rapidly in front of you.

The Type R remains super-composed under braking. I’ve track-driven plenty of cars that tend to squirm under heavy braking loads, the rear-end getting lighter and flightier as the nose of the car dips in equal proportion to my rising nervousness. Not so the Civic, which stays true to its line, pulling up neatly and predictably every single time.

I shared a car with one other driver, alternating six-lap sessions, each of us completing about 25 high-speed laps before the chequered flag fell on our two hours of track time, and the brakes felt as predictable and solid on the last lap as they did on the first.

The real star of the Type R’s abilities, however, can be found in its cornering ability. The chassis remains beautifully balanced. Body roll is minimal while the rear-end remains nicely planted, despite the Civic’s front-wheel-drive platform. It’s quite remarkable.

You can make the rear-end step out just a touch, but even when it does, it’s predictable and completely controllable, light touches on the steering wheel correcting oversteer easily and comfortably.

It all adds up to a performance package that inspires a level of confidence I didn’t know I had. Nothing exemplifies this better than turn five, a sweeping left-hander that can, in the right car, be taken flat-out in fourth gear.

Key details 2024 Honda Civic Type R
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power 235kW @ 6500rpm
Torque 420Nm @ 2600–4000rpm
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Transmission Six-speed manual
Power-to-weight ratio 164.6kW/t
Weight (kerb) 1428kg
Spare tyre type Tyre repair kit

My first exploratory laps saw a tentative and indicated 131km/h. By the end of the day, I was well over 150km/h. And still the Civic remained glued to the track like it was out for a Sunday drive.

It’s a car that simply inspires confidence every time you slide into the cabin. How much confidence? About 10 seconds per lap, according to Honda’s LogR 2.0 inbuilt data logger, my first fast lap of 1min 48sec improving to 1min 38.94sec on my final flying lap.

Could I have gone faster still? Perhaps, with time and more laps under my belt. But really, the improvements become ever tinier. And besides, lap times, while fun to pore and gloat over, are not the final measure of a car’s ability.

Simply, the Honda Civic Type R is arguably one of the most accomplished hot hatches on the market today. With a poised and beautifully balanced chassis married to a willing turbocharged four-cylinder and an utterly charming and tactile manual gearbox, the Civic Type R will inspire you to seek its limits.

Is it the most accomplished hot hatch on the market today? That’s a big call to make, and until we definitively test the segment back-to-back, not a call I’d like to make.

But, having now spent plenty of time behind the wheel on the road and track, the Honda Civic Type R has made a compelling case.

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Ratings Breakdown

2023 Honda Civic Type R Hatchback

8.1/ 10

Performance

Safety Technology

Ride Quality

Infotainment & Connectivity

Handling & Dynamics

Energy Efficiency

Driver Technology

Value for Money

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Fit for Purpose

Rob Margeit has been an automotive journalist for over 20 years, covering both motorsport and the car industry. Rob joined CarAdvice in 2016 after a long career at Australian Consolidated Press. Rob covers automotive news and car reviews while also writing in-depth feature articles on historically significant cars and auto manufacturers. He also loves discovering obscure models and researching their genesis and history.

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