Make no mistake: The 2018 Honda Civic Type R is no paint-and-stickers special. This is the real deal, with 306 horsepower from its 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, a race-tuned chassis, thickly bolstered seats, and outrageous styling. And yet, it retains the kind of day-to-day livability that makes the entire Honda Civic lineup one of our favorite cars.
You'll Like The 2018 Honda Civic Type R If...
Previously only available in Japan and Europe, the 2018 Honda Civic Type R is the fulfillment of every "tuner" magazine reader's dreams. But it's not just for enthusiasts: If you're looking for a great-handling, quick, and fun car that won't beat you up on your daily commute, the Civic Type R is just right.
You May Not Like The 2018 Honda Civic Type R If...
Functional or not, the wings and vents adorning the Civic Type R look aggressively goofy to some. The Type R isn't the quickest hot hatch in a straight line, and owners should avoid drag racing the Focus RS and Subaru WRX STI.
All-new last year, the 2018 Honda Civic Type R features no changes this year.
On one hand, the 2018 Civic Type R is still a Honda Civic. That means there's ample cargo space, a roomy rear seat, ergonomic near-perfection (volume knob, please!), and all the comfort and thoughtful design that's landed the 10th-generation Civic on our Best Buy winners’ list three years running. But the Civic Type R adds red-stitched Alcantara trim on the center console and doors, and red trim surrounding the vents and other areas. The bright red "H" on the steering wheel and key fob and the aluminum shifter are signature Type R touches. The unique manually adjusted sport seats offer up stiff side bolsters, but we wish there was more lumbar support.
We know, we know: There's a lot going on here. Honda claims the roofline nubs, deep front and side extensions, the gigantic wing, and the other wild-looking styling elements on the Civic Type R actually improve aerodynamics and/or downforce. That wing, for example, is supposed to create downforce at speed, helping with cornering. The winglets at the edge of the front bumper and side skirts help route air around the wheels to reduce drag. The vents on the front bumper help cool the brakes, and the vent on the hood cools the turbo. It's certainly eye-catching, but pretty? Well...
All too often, "hot-rod" versions of good compact cars wind up compromising the things we liked about the compact in the first place. Not so the 2018 Honda Civic Type R. Yes, it's quick: The 306-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder puts down power to the front wheels smoothly and, remarkably, without torque steer. Take it to a racetrack, flip the drive mode to +R, and it's as rewarding to drive as just about anything you could care to mention, practically egging you on to push its limits, and quicker than many of its all-wheel-drive competitors. Yet away from the track, on the daily commute, Honda hasn't forgotten that this is a Civic. The powerful engine also pours out plentiful torque, making it easy to drive in traffic. When the drive mode is in its Comfort setting, the ride is perfectly acceptable. In fact, maybe it's a little too civilized, as we'd like a bit more engine noise to filter through the triple-pipe exhaust system.
The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2018 Honda Civic Type R is just under $35,000, including the $890 destination charge. With options...well, there are none, so that's what you'll pay. As for competition, the Civic Type R doesn't have a direct competitor since its primary rivals -- the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R -- are both all-wheel drive, quicker, more powerful, and considerably more expensive, with starting prices closer to the $40,000 mark. Whether that makes the Type R a bargain is up to your priorities. Whatever you decide, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying in your area for the Civic Type R, and note that there's a good chance the dealer won't budge much on the price due to demand. As for resale, expect it to be solid, like the rest of the Civic lineup.
The 2018 Civic Type R starts at the Touring level of equipment, which means very little is left off the car. There's a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 12-speaker premium audio system, USB input and Bluetooth phone and audio compatibility. There's also "power everything," plus cruise control and dual-zone automatic climate control. Of course there are unique touches, like the heavily bolstered front seats, the drive-mode control that includes the track-ready +R mode, and a gauge-cluster that changes with the drive mode, and includes cool touches like a lap timer and racing-style redline-warning light.
You can pick your color and a few dealer-installed accessories, and that's about it for options on the Type R. As for colors, we recommend Championship White. Not only does it really show off the various black panels and other styling elements (go big or go home), this off-white color is a nod to Honda's racing history, the same color on its first Formula 1 effort from the 1960s. Interestingly, Honda's excellent HondaSensing suite of safety features -- lane-keeping assist, active cruise control, collision mitigation and so on -- isn't available on any manual-transmission Civic, including the Type R.
ADJUSTABLE DRIVING MODES
Driving modes are becoming commonplace, but driving modes that make a real difference are still a rarity. The Civic Type R's three modes are as distinct as they could be. Comfort is great for commuting, save +R for the track (or smooth surface streets), and Sport neatly splits the difference.
This is the first Civic Type R ever sold on these shores (the Integra Type R from 20 years ago doesn't count), and even among other Type R models, this is the best one ever. Thank the one-world, 10th-generation Civic platform for the honor.
Under the Hood
There's only one drivetrain for the 2018 Honda Civic Type R: a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder connected to a 6-speed manual transmission. It sends all that power to the front wheels through a helical limited-slip differential. The engine's 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque are enough to make torque steer a concern. Torque steer, if you're unaware, is the tendency for a powerful front-wheel-drive car's front wheels to turn left or right when under a load; it's annoying and not very fun. Honda has somehow controlled it with a unique front-suspension setup that incorporates a special steering linkage. It's different from the rest of the Civic lineup, and helps virtually eliminate the effect of torque steer.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
306 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg
The 2018 Honda Civic Type R is the best driver's car Honda has built since the S2000. Much more than just a Civic with a powerful engine, Honda reengineered the car -- already the best car in its class -- turning it into a performance thoroughbred. The turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder puts out 306 horsepower, and it's connected only to a slick-shifting rev-matching 6-speed manual transmission. The Civic's hatchback body gets reinforced with structural adhesives for better rigidity, and the torque-steer-reducing front suspension is unique to the Type R. Sure, it looks crazy, but Honda insists all that wild bodywork helps increase downforce. Other cars like the Ford Focus RS are quicker in a straight line and boast all-wheel drive, but the 2018 Civic Type R beats them on price, and day-to-day comfort.