In-depth reviews

Honda Civic Type R (FL5) review: the undisputed king of hot hatches

It’s the most exciting, capable and well engineered hot hatchback we’ve ever driven, but has lost some of the fluency that made the last Type R truly great

Evo rating
Price
from £46,995
  • Astonishing capability, engagement and quality – it’s the GT4 RS of hot hatchbacks
  • Finds its limits when the roads get rough

After one of the most frustrating and painfully protracted multi-stage embargoes in recent memory, we can finally tell you what the new FL5 Honda Civic Type R is like to drive on road, track and in most weather conditions.

Honda hasn’t made it easy for itself, launching what is an extremely track-focused model in a European winter, and with the news that it’ll only be sold in relatively limited numbers and for a very un-Honda price of nearly £47,000.

> Honda’s future EV plans take shape – headlined by all-electric S2000 and NSX reboots

But trust us when we say the wait has been worth it because the Civic Type R is terrific, with only one or two caveats. In fact, we'd go so far as to say that it sits right up in the pantheon of all-time hot hatchback greats – which is even more remarkable when their future is becoming less than certain.

Honda Civic Type R: in detail 

  • Engine, gearbox and technical highlights > A masterclass in powertrain engineering, perfectly paired to a highly tuned chassis
  • Performance and 0-60mph time > Looks average on paper only due to the limits of front-drive traction. In the real world there’s plenty of performance
  • Ride and Handling > Set up with an unerring focus that shines brightest on roads of a smoother disposition
  • MPG and running costs > If you’re able to get more than 30mpg out of a CTR you probably have a heart of stone
  • Interior and tech > It’s perfect. Driving position, tactility, material quality, design. Honda got it so right.
  • Design > Same basic silhouette as before, but now with a more mature and bespoke aesthetic that makes it look every bit a near £50k sports car

Prices and specs

At £46,995, the Honda's pricing is punchy, but with hot hatch sales falling the chunky price tag reflects the fact cars such as the CTR are bought by true enthusiasts; people who understand specialised hot hatches of this calibre are a rare treat built to serve a niche, not a sector with meaningful volumes.

It's a lot of money, but if you're serious about driving and appreciate the notion of a car that's effectively been blueprinted from nose to tail by Honda's most pernickety engineers, you'll fall for the Type R in a big way.

> Hyundai i30 N review

What's more, although it's almost 100bhp down on top-tier machines such as AMG's A45 S or Audi's RS3 (both significantly more expensive), the CTR's brilliantly honed dynamics mean you would seriously think twice about what you're getting from the premium superhatches beyond brand image and on-paper bragging rights.

Perhaps the biggest problem for the Civic Type R is actually the Hyundai i30 N. It might have been around for a while, and doesn’t have nearly the performance, capability or focus – but when it comes to sheer entertainment, and the way it can pick through even the toughest British back roads, it feels like a complete bargain against the Honda.

Why it made eCoty 2023

Based purely on cost, Honda's Civic Type R is the underdog at eCoty 2023, its sticker price of £49,995 making it both a bargain in terms of the driving experience it offers and absurd when you consider it’s based on a five-door hatchback that will be sold globally in its millions.

The latest Type R earns its place in 2023’s eCoty purely on merit. Without a doubt it’s not only the best new hot hatch you can buy, it’s also one of the very best of all time. Like the select few from its homeland, the Type R has benefited from continuous development rather than radical revolution in the recent past. Its drivetrain has been finessed, steering precision polished, damping and spring rates harmonised, the styling toned down. A bit.

In every test we have put the Type R into, the front-drive, six-speed-manual hatch has left its rivals wilting as it delivers another superlative performance, demonstrating that the highest level of driver engagement isn’t exclusive to the exotics and the specialists. It’s a hatchback that can carry a family every day for every scenario before instantly turning its hand to being a devastatingly rewarding car for trackdays or those drives where you simply want to get away from it all.

The Type R redefines the all-rounder, proves once again that a well-engineered front-wheel-drive car can be as exciting and engaging as the very best traditionally configured sports cars – some of which the humble(ish) Honda will be taking on at this year’s evo Car of the Year. Not that this troubled the Civic’s predecessors in past eCotys, and we can’t see that changing when today’s example squares up to this year’s other contenders.

More on Civic Type-R

Honda Civic Type R v Volkswagen Golf R v Hyundai i30 N v Audi RS3
Honda Civic Type R v Volkswagen Golf R v Hyundai i30 N v Audi RS3
Group tests

Honda Civic Type R v Volkswagen Golf R v Hyundai i30 N v Audi RS3

The all-new FL5-gen Civic Type R is here, and expectations are sky-high. Waiting for it are the rapid and capable Golf R and Audi RS3 and the brillian…
30 Apr 2023
Honda Civic Type R sets FWD Nürburgring record (again)
Honda Civic Type R FL5 Nurburgring record
News

Honda Civic Type R sets FWD Nürburgring record (again)

Not only is the FL5 Civic Type R the most engaging hot hatch on the market, it’s also now the fastest in its class around the Green Hell
21 Apr 2023
2022 FL5 Honda Civic Type R – prices and specs to be revealed Nov 30
teaser
News

2022 FL5 Honda Civic Type R – prices and specs to be revealed Nov 30

Finalised UK specs including power, availability and price to be confirmed November 30
18 Nov 2022
Honda Civic Type R EP3 – review, history and specs
Honda Civic Type R icon – tracking
In-depth reviews

Honda Civic Type R EP3 – review, history and specs

The early noughties Civic overcame opinion-dividing looks and flawed dynamics to become a legend in its own lifetime. To rev it is to love it
27 Oct 2022
Get it while (if) you can – is the Fk8 Honda Civic Type R the new 911 GT3?
Best hot hatchbacks 2021 - Civic Type R nose
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Get it while (if) you can – is the Fk8 Honda Civic Type R the new 911 GT3?

Swindon’s closure has meant the Honda Civic Type R has become hot property with pre-reg cars hitting £10k over asking
4 Aug 2021
Honda Civic Type R GT 2020 review – still king of the hot hatch crop?
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type R GT 2020 review – still king of the hot hatch crop?

Subtle tweaks have made the Type R an even more formidable hot hatch, but we’re keen to try one again soon to understand fully the changes to the susp…
22 Sep 2020
Honda Civic Type R FN2 – review, history, prices and specs
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type R FN2 – review, history, prices and specs

Earlier Type Rs are more beloved and later ones faster, but the last naturally aspirated Type R can still entertain
11 Jun 2020
165mph Honda Civic Type R pickup concept revealed
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

165mph Honda Civic Type R pickup concept revealed

No production plans, but "Project P" shows the potential of Swindon's skunkworks
24 May 2018
2017 Honda Civic Type R review
Honda Civic Type R - front tracking
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

2017 Honda Civic Type R review

The new Civic Type R is a huge step on from the previous car, mixing surprising refinement with genuine interaction and scintillating pace
11 Mar 2018
Honda Civic Type R BTCC race car revealed for 2018 season
2018 Civic Type R BTCC - nose
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type R BTCC race car revealed for 2018 season

One of the BTCC’s most successful modern racers has been reimagined for 2018
27 Feb 2018
Honda Civic Type R review
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type R review

Honda's new super-hatch outguns rivals on paper, but edgy +R damping means UK drivers can't exploit its most extreme settings
7 Aug 2017
New Honda Civic Type R revealed in TCR race trim
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

New Honda Civic Type R revealed in TCR race trim

Dramatic production Civic Type R gets even more crazy in TCR touring car form
12 Jul 2017
New Honda Civic Type R track drive review
Honda Civic Type R  - Geneva front
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

New Honda Civic Type R track drive review

We’ve been for a short drive in the new Honda Civic Type R hot hatch. Here’s everything you need to know
8 Jun 2017
Honda Civic Type-R Black Edition
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type-R Black Edition

As production of one of our favourite hot hatches ends Honda releases a final edition
10 Jan 2017
Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy-R vs Honda Civic Type R
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy-R vs Honda Civic Type R

Which is the fastest of the hottest hatches?
20 Oct 2015
Road to Type-R: on the Nürburgring
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Road to Type-R: on the Nürburgring

We catch a lift with Europe's Civic Type-R owners for a very special lap of the 'ring
17 May 2015
Road to Type R – evo meets owners at Honda HQ
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Road to Type R – evo meets owners at Honda HQ

evo and Honda UK host a meeting for Type R owners - and bring every generation of Civic Type R together
7 May 2015
Road to Type R - Honda Civic Type R (FN2) driven
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Road to Type R - Honda Civic Type R (FN2) driven

The FN2-generation Civic R is the black sheep of the Type R family. 8 years on from its launch, is it worth a second look?
6 May 2015
Road to Type R – Honda Civic Type R (EP3) driven
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Road to Type R – Honda Civic Type R (EP3) driven

evo revisits one of Honda's all-time classics - the 197bhp Civic Type R
5 May 2015
New Honda Civic Type R to compete in 2015 BTCC
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

New Honda Civic Type R to compete in 2015 BTCC

Civic Tourer unceremoniously dumped in favour of Honda's latest hot hatchback
25 Mar 2015
Should you buy a Honda Civic Type-R (EP3)?
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Should you buy a Honda Civic Type-R (EP3)?

The first UK-sanctioned Civic Type-R is now a used bargain - but is it worth the modest outlay?
10 Mar 2015
Type-R concept breaks cover
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Type-R concept breaks cover

Just like the Renaultsport Clio, Honda's hot Civic, the Type-R, sells better in Britain than anywhere else in the world. And just as Renault did in th…
1 Mar 2006
Type R for 2007 - it's official
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Type R for 2007 - it's official

We weren't expecting to hear the news quite so early, but Honda has just confirmed that a Type-R version of the new Civic will be launched in the firs…
6 Jan 2006