Honda Civic Type R 2015 review

19 Nov, 2013 3:00am Roger Stansfield

We drive a prototype version of the next Honda Civic Type R, due on sale in 2015


Honda has had a reality check and realised that raw, near-racing engines with high emissions aren’t what’s relevant for today’s car buyers. The aggression has now been directed into the way the Honda Civic Type R looks. Still not as under the radar as a Golf GTI, but far easier to live with than before.

For the 2015 Civic Type R, Honda has taken a different tack to the previous high-revving, normally aspirated models. The next Type R will have a turbo engine delivering at least 40 per cent more grunt than its 198bhp predecessor, and Auto Express has had a go in an early prototype.

The engine itself is a 2.0-litre direct-injection unit with ‘at least 280PS’ – a shade over 276bhp – Honda says. Insiders hint that the final figure will be more. There’s also considerably more torque – 400Nm instead of 196Nm– and it peaks far lower down the rev band, at only 2300rpm. So, the new Type R should be quicker than the one it replaces while being more fuel-efficient and puffing out less CO2. Honda admits that it has target performance and emissions figures, but won’t tell us exactly what they are.

Honda Civic review

But all this means the character of the car has changed almost beyond recognition. With the old Type R, you had to nail your right foot to the floor until the engine was revving above 5000rpm before much happened. In the right circumstances it was intoxicating stuff, especially as it was accompanied by a metallic growl, which made the car sound like an entry in the touring car championship.

The new car shifts the greater part of the engine’s thrust into the mid-range. From a little over 2000rpm until well above 5000rpm it accelerates with real purpose – enough to make the front wheels squirm in the lower ratios of the six-speed manual gearbox. We were pleased to hear the turbo doesn’t mute the engine, although the sound is now more of a deep bellow. There’s the smallest hint of turbo lag as you step on the accelerator but it’s not too much of an issue.

Honda has targeted a new Nurburgring lap record for a production front-wheel-drive car with the Type R, so the suspension, steering and brakes have been suitably uprated. The company’s high-speed test loop at Tochigi, in Japan, is not the place to get answers to all the questions you could pose, especially in the two laps we were allowed, but it revealed that the car has weighty steering giving good feedback, corners flatly, is extremely stable at the 125mph we were permitted and stops well. As for the ride, we’ll let British roads be the judge, but at best it will be firm.

Tokyo Motor Show 2013

The new car looks much more aggressive than the last, with elaborate front wheel-arch extensions, a finely profiled rear wing, wide rear wheel arches which clash uncomfortably with the doors, messy aerodynamic additions on the rear flanks and, for the car we drove,19-inch wheels and a matt black-paint job. The seats, gearknob and door trims have been changed inside compared with a standard Civic, but it’s not as extrovert as the outside.

So why the wait until 2015? Because Honda decided to promote the Civic Tourer in the production pecking order. There are some within the company who think that might be a mistake.

Disqus - noscript

The add-on wheelarch extensions don't work. There are huge arch pressings on the body, and by adding these cheap aftermarket extensions the body looks more heavy, and the wheels look small - from front/side view (picture 1) it makes the 19" rim look like 17".
They should have bite the bullet, and spent some more cash on bespoke front and rear wings and bumpers, that widen from the top arch line.
Even better, make it a 3 door!

God, Honda is glacially slow (when compared to, say, VW) in developing new product - especially for Europe. Are they really interested ?

Their market share drops and yet they seem perfectly happy to offer us the current Civic which, let's face it, is hardly a quantum leap from the previous one.

Now we have to wait til 'sometime in 2015' for a Type-R. And this a company that won F1 4-times as an engine builder. Soichiro must be spinning in his grave faster than a V-TEC at full-chat.

I agree, that was the first thing that I noticed with this car. I hope they bin that body kit because it really does this car no favours, although I quite like the rear wing. I would also agree with 'BertoniBertone'. This car seems to have been talked about and under development for years, and it's still not due until 2015?! What goes on at Honda these days. It wasn't that long ago Honda offered a selection of sports/performance cars which were updated every other year.

I remember when Honda offered many cool cars Civic VTi, Civic & accord coupe, prelude, S2000, Integra & Legend..... now not alot on offer, crz & Accord is fine but hear they wanna stop that in UK ? big big mistake ! ok they are bringing out NSX next yr or 2, but that be way out of my and amongst many peoples budget even second hand ! I guess far as Honda UK goes the CTR is ok, as for promoting the civic tourer?? many many many suv's cuv's and estates from japs / koreans and europeans already ! no amount of publicity or promotion gonna interest me in that in the slightest ! Honda USA has civic & Accord coupe and even 2 different Accords, one of which badged as Acura TSX with interesting engine choices & we get nothing !

It looks dated.

Oh dear, Honda appears to be ditching it's Vtec characters? Pity, they offer a good difference in a sea of turbo's. It's not always just how fast it is, but it's the way it's fast, and the Vtec's are mentally fun, I've no doubt the new one will be fun too but I bet it won't rev to 9000. I can already see HSK modified 500bhp monsters with turbo's the size of hydro electric generators!

This iteration of the civic type r looks.... dreadful. As a five door its back end is too tall, the bodykit looks horrendous too. Without the old high revving vtec of the past I'm sure it performs just fine but won't feel the same.... and as for the review saying this will be easier to live with than the last one - I guess whoever wrote this doesn't understand the point of the previous cars. Not really sure what to trade my current civic for when it comes around... almost certainly not the car in these pictures!

You mentioned VW then go on to say the Civic is "hardly a quantum leap from the previous one" -- Just like the Golf, Polo, and most VAG products then?

I understand your confusion HTG but I think you may be conflating my remarks about (1) bringing new product to the market and (2) making significant engineering leaps from one model iteration to the next. That's why the above statements were mentioned in different paragraphs.

Honda makes good product but my, my do they make a meal of bringing it to the (European) market.

How long did you wait between, let's say, the Golf VII 2.0 TDI and the GTI ? 6 months. How long will it be between the last Type R being available for sale and the next one ? Mmmmm, how about 4 years and still counting.....

Next: quantum leaps. So did you ever have the displeasure of driving a Golf III and then a Golf IV ? Now that was a quantum leap...for the driver. And I suspect an engineer would confirm to you that the new MQB platform is indeed a quantum leap between the previous V/VI and Mark VII.

Don't get me wrong. I am pro-Honda. I had the previous Civic 2.2 CDTI EX and it (and the dealership) was excellent. But I was crestfallen when I saw this new one: worse styling, same engine, some incremental improvements but would Socihiro Honda have been proud ? I suspect not. And don't even get me onto the subject of where's the replacement for the S2000 or NSX. How about that for glacial, or should I say, non-existent product development ?

People are very quick to slate Honda for not doing the cars they used to.
Maybe you should consider the following:
1. Due to euro compliance they are limitied to how High Reving they can be, the engines become un compliant and far to expensive to tax due to CO2 Emmisions.
2. Due to the Tsunami, the company lost so many supplies and buisness that they havent been able to spend money on developing new cars ETC.
3. If more people actually put there money where the mouth is and brought the cars then maybe Honda would be able to see the demand and actually speed up development. But who actually goes out and buys £30k Hot hatches these days? The likes of the VXR's & ST's are so cheaply built in huge quantaties that every Lad and there Dad can afford to go out and buy them. Simply fact is most people are so cheap when it comes to buying cars that they dont actually spend money on quality cars like Honda's.

This car will be easier to live with than the last ? Who wrote this ? Obviously didn't know what the car was all about. I currently have the fn2. I love the high revving, the firmness, the looks. I don't care that it's not the fastest. I love the fact you have to work hard. Not so sure about this new one. Not the best looker And only 0.6 quicker to 60 for all that extraturbo power. I'll stick with the fn2 thanks

They are targetting the time set in 2011 by the Megane 265. That means they are trying to beat a 4 year old car performance wise. I hope they do it, and I hope Renault respond with a premium interior which I know Honda will have.

Key specs

  • Price: £26,500 (est)
  • Engine: 2.0-litre petrol, direct-injection with turbocharger
  • Power: 276bhp (minimum)
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • 0-62mph: 6.0 seconds (est)
  • Economy: 40mpg (est)
  • CO2: 185g/km (est)
  • Equipment: Electric windows, sports seats, air-con
  • On sale: First half of 2015