The ‘Type R’ badge has adorned the Civic for over 25 years. We strap into the latest iteration of Honda’s halo hot hatch.

The Civic Type R has an illustrious history. The “Type R” namesake has adorned the halo Civic hatchback for six generations over a quarter century. For reference, that is six years longer than the Volkswagen Golf has worn the renowned “R” badge if I’m not mistaken.

When arriving on our shores, many argued the German hot hatch the Civic Type R’s rival. However, apart from their asking prices, which, in itself, has been a topic of heated conversation on social media platforms, being more than R900 000, with the Honda’s being closer to R1 million (R979 000, to be precise) — and the VW’s, if you spec it with even more niceties — and power outputs, looking at their mechanical set-ups, they couldn’t be more different. The Honda is, thus, a more left-field rival.


The Golf R is an all-wheel-drive hot hatch directing 235 kW to the tarmac via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Whereas the Golf doubles as a commendable daily driver and mountain pass carver, overall, the Civic Type R takes a more driver-focused approach, sporting a manual gearbox that exclusively sends the same amount of power to the front axle.

However, the six-speeder in the Honda deals with 20 Nm more torque (420 versus 400 Nm). The new Golf R is seven-tenths-of-a-second quicker to the three-figure marker from a standstill at 4.8 versus 5.5 seconds. However, the Civic Type R’s top speed is 22 km/h more than the standard Golf R at 272 km/h versus the (electronically limited) 250 km/h of the latter. However, the margin becomes smaller when the VW is specified with the optional ‘black performance package’, which lifts its maximum speed to 270 km/h.

But this isn’t a comparison between the new Civic Type R and the R-badged Golf. To do so, it would be best to drive the two back-to-back. However, that seems rather unlikely, as Honda South Africa mentioned at the local launch of the FL5 generation that it wouldn’t be making its way into the local press fleet. (Only 60 units have been set aside for SA, 25 of which have already been spoken for.) And, recently, we were one of the fortunate few from the media to drive the sixth iteration. So, with some background out of the way, let’s start the engine of the FK8’s successor…


Promising to “deliver the most exhilarating Civic Type R experience to date”, the new Civic Type R was introduced to the world in 2022 when Honda celebrated its apex hot hatch’s 25th anniversary. Under the skin, there are some similarities to its forebear. For example, the powertrain and the transmission (replete with rev-matching) have remained the same. However, these items (and the chassis) have been significantly upgraded to suit the new model’s prerequisites — to (again) be the most engaging-to-drive hot hatch available. As we discovered on the sinuous Clarence Drive, Franschhoek Pass, and a race track, it arguably is.

Carried over from its predecessor, the K20C1 unit, replete with a redesigned turbocharger, has been tuned to deliver 7 kW and 20 Nm more in the new model, making it the most powerful of its namesake. Peak power and torque are available from 6 500 r/min and 2 600 to 4 000 r/min, respectively. In addition, airflow to the turbo has been increased thanks to a more prominent grille opening, larger radiator and new fan (for enhanced engine cooling). The exhaust system is all-new and features the Civic Type R-staple triple-tailpipe arrangement. The four-cylinder symphony becomes more enhanced thanks to the active exhaust valve, which opens as the revs rise.

In addition to these changes, the Civic Type R’s dimensions have increased, not only to make it more spacious but (of course) also for improved dynamics. The fore and aft tracks have increased in width by 26 and 25 mm, respectively, and the wheelbase is 36 mm longer.


So, have the dynamics genuinely improved? Yes. And yes, again. The previous-generation Civic Type R was an absolute hoot to drive, and the new one, unsurprisingly, even more so.

The grip levels provided from the front end are remarkable… It’s unlike anything I’ve sampled in a front-wheel-drive hot hatch. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber (wrapped around 19-inch alloy wheels) grips to the tarmac as you enter a corner … and I’m not talking about going slowly into a bend either. The front-end grip is noteworthy, as is the stopping prowess provided by the Brembo brakes. The steering, too, deserves mention — it’s pin-sharp. Some might find it too weighty, but the set-up is well-suited to the Civic Type R’s dynamic inclines.

However, the most notable items sit between the driver and front passenger and in the driver’s footwell, where the carpeting is vibrant red — the tactile lever used to shift cogs and the clutch pedal, two things not often seen on performance cars these days. It would be an understatement to say the short-throw six-speeder is remarkable — top-notch. Is it the best manual cog swapper currently available in a car? Arguably yes. Our only gripe with the new Civic Type R’s transmission is that the gearing of the higher cogs feels rather long.


The seating position is spot-on, with the suede-effect bucket seats providing sufficient bolstering. It’s worth noting that they’re quite narrow, however. The Alcantara-clad multifunction steering wheel feels good and relays adequate feedback to the palms.

Reading the latter, the new Civic Type R may sound like a car that’s too focused on performance and, as a result, has offered several niceties at the altar of dynamism. Well, it hasn’t. But before we get to that, let’s look at the interior…

The cabin is a lovely place to be sat in. It looks good, with myriad neat details found all around. The fascia features a honeycomb motif, and “Type R” is embossed in the front pews’ headrests and etched into the back of these pews. However, we had one gripe with the otherwise well-constructed cabin — when travelling at speed, there was a rattle where the seatbelt’s fixed to the B-pillar. Now, on to the features…

The latest iteration is generously equipped in the convenience and safety departments. Starting with the former, there is a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment incorporating screen mirroring (which relays tunes via a Bose sound system), a digital driver’s display (the red line features a subtle honeycomb motif, another neat detail), wireless charging, dual-zone climate control and adaptive cruise control, among many other items. Regarding safety, the Civic Type R ships with eight airbags, ISOFIX child-sear anchorages, lane-keep assist and a collision mitigation braking system, among others.


But before we get to At a glance, let’s quickly rewind to when we first saw the new Civic Type R in the metal, when Honda SA lifted the covers off the six units sitting in an aeroplane hanger, the starting point to our drive in the latest iteration.

Although looks are subjective, we’d argue that the latest Civic Type R looks tremendous, especially viewed from the front (we’re not so fond of the rear-end design). It has a much less opinion-splitting design than its forebear, and when dressed in Crystal Black Pearl, the new model looks like a “sleeper”. The exterior colour palette includes a quartet of other hues — Championship White, Rallye Red (the colour in which our launch unit was specified), Racing Blue Pearl, and Sonic Grey Pearl.

At a glance

Honda Civic Type R

The new Civic Type R is sublime, unbelievably so. No, believably. The previous gen was good, so its successor would arguably be … and even better. And it is. It sits in the upper echelons of the hot-hatch world. Take a bow, Honda.