The Numbers Are Out! All-New 2023 Honda Civic Type R is the Most Powerful Hot Hatch on the Market
Same engine, new tricks
Let’s get straight to it: the 2023 Honda Civic Type R produces 315 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm and 310 lb-ft of torque at 2,600-4,000 rpm; pumped out of the same K20C1 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine seen in the last generation FK8 Civic Type R. That’s a mild 9 hp and 15 lb-ft improvement over the outgoing model – maybe underwhelming to some, but right in line with what many of us expected after Honda revealed the FL5’s engine bay. For comparison, the previous generation hit max horsepower at 6,500 rpm and peak torque from 2,500-4,500 rpm.
Improvements in power come in the way of a redesigned turbocharger, increased intake flow, and a more efficient active exhaust. Honda’s engineers took a deep dive into optimizing the turbine blades in the new turbo – adjusting their shape, size, and number. The new exhaust also features an active valve that opens at higher rpm, improving airflow and increasing sound output.
Paired to the K20C1 is an improved six-speed manual transmission, now boasting a stiffer shift lever and new shift gate pattern optimized for more precise and satisfying gear changes. Honda has fitted a lighter flywheel to help improve engine response and make the car feel peppier. They’ve also revised the rev-match system to better match revs during downshifts (a welcome upgrade, though we prefer doing it ourselves).
Overall, it’s apparent the new FL5 Type R’s power plant is an evolution of the previous powertrain, whereas the design takes a more revolutionary approach from the FK8’s controversial Gundam-esque looks.
Runs harder (and cooler) for longer
The previous generation FK8 Civic Type R is a fantastic car, though not without some faults. Subjective opinions on its looks aside (it tickles our fancy), the FK8 Type R suffered from overheating and heat-soaking on hot track days. Honda has taken notice, and after extensive testing (and record breaking) at various racetracks, the new generation car seems to have alleviated the concerns of racing enthusiasts.
Out front, the new Type R has a larger grill opening to allow for increased airflow. The grill guides air to a bigger front radiator, which is further cooled by a larger diameter fan. A new vented aluminum hood exhausts hot air from the engine bay, helping keep the engine and turbo within optimal operating temps. We didn’t think the Type R needed any improvements in the braking department, but Honda says the new design helps better cool the already-capable two-piece front brake rotors. Honda has essentially taken a few chapters out of the aftermarket playbook and offered their Type R with all the goodies from the factory.
Further minor improvements come in the way of less marketable metrics. The new Type R is both longer (0.8-inches) and wider (0.6-inches) than the outgoing model. The car now rides on 19-inch wheels (1-inch smaller than the previous gen) wrapped in wider rubber (+20 mm Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires from the factory). A wider width, lower ride height (0.5-inches), and wider track all work in conjunction to increase the Type R’s mechanical grip. The wheelbase has also been extended 1.4-inches for greater high-speed stability. Being a front-wheel drive car, the FL5 Honda Civic Type R remains laser-focused on cutting lap times – which can be a pro or con depending on whether you favor the competition’s more “hoon-capable” all-wheel drive alternatives.
Ah yes, the competition. The 2023 Honda Civic Type R is an impressive car, but it definitely doesn’t exist in a vacuum. With Subaru’s WRX STI out of the picture, the main competitors come in the form of Toyota’s upcoming GR Corolla and Volkswagen’s Golf R. While we don’t yet know the Type R’s curb weight, we suspect it’ll be slightly chunkier than the outgoing model. That estimate puts it right between the GR Corolla (~3,250 lb) and Golf R (~3,400 lb).
Though the Type R is larger than both the Corolla and Golf, it’s the only one to exclusively push power to the front wheels. Honda has championed front-wheel drive Type Rs for decades – and it certainly carries a weight advantage (pun intended) – but the all-wheel drive systems offered in the GR Corolla and Golf R will skew certain parameters in their favor. Acceleration off the line and usability in a variety of road conditions will undoubtedly favor the all-wheel drive hatchbacks, but Honda seems more focused on being king of the well-paved circuit anyway. Nevertheless, the 2023 Civic Type R matches the Golf R’s horsepower rating, but bests the German hot hatch in the torque department – crowning it the most powerful hot hatch on the market. We’ll have to wait for real world comparisons to see how the three measure up.
Show me the money!
Unfortunately, Honda hasn’t yet released official pricing for the 2023 Civic Type R. Additional details will be provided closer to the launch this fall, but we’re not confident it’ll mean much for real world sale prices. While we suspect an MSRP just shy of $40,000, many dealerships blessed with allotments will no doubt mark these up to prices just out of reach for many consumers. The launch will likely lead to a frenzy of enthusiasts fighting tooth and nail while dealerships foam at the mouth at prospects of offering $3,000 “dealer security systems” and $5,000 “paint protection packages”… but I digress.