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Honda Civic Type R (FL5) review – 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

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

For two cars that share such fundamental packaging, Honda’s complete reinvention of the Civic Type R’s aesthetic in this new generation is an impressive achievement. Launched to some fairly critical response, the FK8’s plastic fantastic combination of fake vents, over-designed aero appendages, faux carbon, red pinstripes and disjointed creases significantly knocked back its appeal. The new FL5 couldn’t be more different.

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The fundamental difference between the two is that the new car has a completely bespoke body-in-white compared to the standard Civic, with much wider arches at both ends that has necessitated unique pressings for both the rear quarter body panel and rear door at huge expense. Last time around, Honda’s use of plastic over-fenders essentially set the car up for its extensive use of fakery in its design.

This authenticity is carried across to the aero package, which does generate genuine downforce. Any aero element in the new car is painted a contrasting black. The openings around the front bumper, front wings and rear bumper are also real. The triple exhaust vents have made a return, although the centre ‘straight-through’ exhaust pipe is now the largest of the three, unlike before.

The effect is that despite a still somewhat frumpy silhouette, the Civic Type R looks bespoke, aggressive and stanced in a similar fashion to a BMW M2. As referenced previously, it also looks like a supertouring car, rather than a hot hatchback. In reality, the current Civic Type R is actually larger than the last Vauxhall Vectra (aside from length which is a single millimeter short), and without a mid-sized saloon or hatchback above it in Europe, took the opportunity to veer into the segment above for better and worse. 

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