2023 Honda Civic Type R
(Photo/Honda)

Most Powerful Honda Yet: 2023 Civic Type R

A month after giving us a first look at the completely redesigned 2023 Civic Type R, Honda has finally fleshed things out.

It reveals a hot hatch that will get a solid boost in power and performance when it rolls into U.S. showrooms, along with plenty of other upgrades performance fans should appreciate.

As formidable as the outgoing Honda Civic Type R might be, the all-new model coming to U.S. showrooms this autumn will make it even tougher for competitors to keep up.

With an upgraded version of Honda’s well-respected K20C1 engine under the hood, the 2023 Civic Type R picks up another 9 horsepower and 15 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful production model ever to wear the Honda badge.

2023 Honda Civic Type R
(Photo/Honda)

“Type R is very important for Honda as the pinnacle of our factory performance and an irreplaceable brand that enables enthusiasts to experience Honda’s racing spirit, and seek the ultimate in speed and driving pleasure,” Hideki Kakinuma, Global Civic Type R Development Leader, said in a statement released Thursday. “The all-new Civic Type R will … leverage Honda’s racetrack-proven engineering to deliver extreme performance and passion — both on the road and on the racetrack.”

Polishing the Halo

From a performance perspective, the Civic Type R has been Honda’s halo vehicle since it debuted in Japan during the 1997 model year — though it only reached the U.S. in 2017. 

2023 Honda Civic Type R
(Photo/Honda)

The second-generation model — at least as far as Americans are concerned — undergoes a number of updates, from its exterior design to its revised six-speed manual gearbox.

This may be just the second version of the Type R to reach the U.S., but it’s based on the 11th-generation Civic Hatchback. That translates into a 1.4-inch-longer wheelbase, at 107.7 inches. The front and rear tracks grow by 1.0 and 0.75 inches, respectively. Also, the front and rear suspension have been heavily updated. 

A More Refined Design

2023 Honda Civic Type R
(Photo/Honda)

The overall look is almost a bit subdued compared to the boy-racer design of the prior-generation Type R. 

“If you look at the design, it’s quite elegant compared to the old one. You still have the sporty feeling, and it’s also muscular, but at the same time, very sleek and elegant,” Noriya Kaihara, President & CEO of American Honda Motor Co., said when the car was first shown in July. 

That said, there are some distinctive features letting you know this isn’t a mere Civic Sport, such as the big rear wing. The 2023 Type R also gets a larger grille, a critical step in keeping the updated engine cool. A larger radiator and a bigger fan help with that as well.

2023 Civic Type R Powertrain

The K20C1 is a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four that now produces 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque — up from 306 and 295, respectively. To get there, Honda redesigned the turbo, improved intake airflow, and adopted a new straight-through exhaust system.

It also added a new active exhaust valve that opens up at higher revs to “heighten and enhance the sound of the engine.”

2023 Honda Civic Type R
(Photo/Honda)

The 2023 Civic Type R is one among a fast-shrinking group of vehicles using a manual transmission — in this case, an updated version of the prior model’s six-speed stick. To improve stability when downshifting, the gearbox now automatically rev-matches.

A helical limited-slip differential helps get power to the pavement. But Honda did surprise some fans when it announced that, unlike some competing entries, it has retained the front-wheel-drive layout of the 2023 Civic Type R.

While the latest new release offers up some welcome specs and details, the Japanese automaker is still holding some cards out of sight. We’ll have to wait for its 0-60 and top speed numbers.

But Honda did note that the 2023 hatchback recently set a record for a production front-drive model on Japan’s Formula 1 Suzuka Circuit. It lapped the twisty 3.8-mile course in just 2 minutes, 23.12 seconds.

New Driving Modes

2023 Honda Civic Type R
(Photo/Honda)

To scrub off speed, whether on track or off, the Type R now features two-piece front brake rotors. Brake cooling has been upgraded, as well.

The hot hatch allows motorists to switch between four driving modes that control engine, steering, and suspension settings, as well as that engine exhaust note. For serious performance fans, this includes Sport and R+ modes, while a new “Individual Mode” lets motorists mix and match settings.

Sporty Type R Cabin

2023 Honda Civic Type R
(Photo/Honda)

Though the basic layout of the 2023 Type R’s cabin echoes the basic look of more mundane Civic models, it does add some welcome features. Drivers sit lower than before in the 2023 model, and they get what Honda describes as a “body-stabilizing sport seat.” Thinner pillars and a lower hood also contribute to improved visibility.

2023 Honda Civic Type R
(Photo/Honda)

New digital gauges feature a larger tachometer and a readout providing key performance data, including gear position. The Honda LogR system records key performance data — and it no longer requires a smartphone to operate.

There’s now a larger, 9-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Qi wireless charging and a Bose Centerpoint premium audio system. And the Type R features a full suite of Honda Sensing advanced driver assistance systems.

2023 Honda Civic Type R: Availability & Pricing

2023 Honda Civic Type R
(Photo/Honda)

While the K20C1 engine is produced in the U.S., the 2023 Honda Civic Type R itself will continue to be assembled in Japan. Look for it to reach American showrooms this autumn. Pricing will be revealed closer to the on-sale date, but the outgoing model starts at $38,910.

Paul Eisenstein
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Paul A. Eisenstein is an award-winning publisher, photographer, editor, and one of the world’s most widely published automotive journalists. His work appears in a wide range of print, broadcast, and electronic outlets, including AutoWise, GearJunkie, NBC News, Forbes Wheels, and his own automotive website, TheDetroitBureau.com. He’s a North American Car and Truck of the Year juror, and board member and past president of the Automotive Press Association. J.D. Power also named him a “Pioneer of the Internet."