(Motor Authority) — Honda has done it again. For the second time, the brand’s budget—though that term is starting to be debatable—hot hatch has pulled off an upset by besting faster, more powerful, more luxurious, and more expensive competitors.
The Honda Civic Type R has earned the title of Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2023.
It marks the second win for the Civic Type R after it took the Best Car To Buy 2018 award. That’s impressive given only two generations of the car have come to the U.S. Our vote was unanimous.
Just like the millennials who grew up dreaming about the Type R being sold in America, Honda’s hot hatch has grown up, too. It’s also grown more powerful and more expensive, but it’s still a riot.
The sixth-generation Type R is based on the 11th-generation Civic. The new Type R sticks to the formula fans know and love.
Under the hood sits a familiar 2.0-liter turbo-4 that is now rated at 315 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. That makes the new Type R the most powerful Honda vehicle ever sold in the U.S. The power increase over the outgoing model’s 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque comes thanks to a redesigned turbocharger, an increased air intake flow rate, and a more efficient exhaust system. The turbocharger is optimized for shape, size, and number of turbine blades to generate pressure in a wider range. This all translates to slightly less turbo lag, a wider power band, and the ability to keep the engine on boil for longer.
Yes, the exhaust system still has three tips, and the center pipe features an active valve that opens at higher rpm.
The Type R is still a front-wheel-drive-only affair with a limited-slip differential that keeps torque steer mostly at bay. Drivers must #GiveAShift with the Type R as a slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission with a newly optimized shift pattern and a lighter flywheel is the only transmission option.
Longer by 1.4 inches and wider by 1.0 inch over the previous model, the latest Type R is more stable than before. Its ride quality has also improved thanks to a retuned front strut and rear multi-link suspension paired with adjustable dampers.
It’s not that the latest Type R is that much faster than the outgoing model. What truly shocked our editors was just how much speed can be carried through corners and esses thanks to the car’s upgraded suspension, wider track, and more stable footing. The car attacks corners, gathers its weight for the next corner quickly, and does it all over and over again without a fuss. The sum of the (seemingly) small changes is larger than enthusiasts might expect.
Flipping the Type R into +R mode is really only for the track, as the suspension becomes unsettled and jittery over even the slightest pavement undulations. Comfort mode for the suspension is the sweet spot, and even then the suspension is fairly firm.
The steering also gets heavier in +R mode. Some editors preferred it, saying it offers more stability in turns, while others felt it’s too heavy with artificial heft for the sake of heft. All of the various dynamic settings can be modified and saved with the Individual mode, which is thankfully retained upon startup.
The two-piece Brembo front brake rotors provide a solid feel that is progressive, predictable, and never seems to fade regardless of how hard or long they are pushed.
The last Civic Type R won in 2018 despite the fact that it looked like a Transformer trying to escape from a Civic. That look is gone, and a more refined, more grown-up appearance has emerged. Thank you, Honda. Lower, longer, and wider, every body panel except for the front doors, pillars, roof, and rear hatch itself is new and specific to the Type R. A big rear wing is still part of the equation, but now it sits on metal pedestal mounts and looks more expensive and race-ready than before. Still, a Type R Touring without the wing might be a nice option as not everyone needs that kind of downforce for day-to-day driving. The 2024 Acura Integra Type S may fill that role.
Inside, every Type R features heavily bolstered red cloth seats, red carpeting, and red door trim accents. High-back front bucket seats are comfortable enough for a road trip and wider builds, though notably they aren’t heated. This ride is only for four: the rear bench seat now only seats two and the center position features two fixed cupholders. A 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes standard, as do wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though CarPlay acted flaky at times (an issue we’ve experienced in both the Type R and the Civic Si with Honda’s current infotainment system software).
That touchscreen features a nifty new Honda LogR data logger system. The software lets drivers record lap times, check cornering forces both for the whole car and at each wheel, and monitor various system temperatures. It even has an Auto Score functionality while it monitors acceleration, braking, steering inputs, and delivers a smoothness score. We haven’t had enough time with the system, but it seems like a useful way to improve your driving style.
Priced at $43,990, the Type R is costly, especially next to the Toyota GR Corolla and the Hyundai Elantra N. But the Honda feels a full step ahead of the Toyota and Hyundai in terms of refinement. It’s the complete package and it doesn’t feel like most of the money was spent on the powertrain.
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From the slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission and refined suspension to its ability to carry speed, the latest Civic Type R feels like it has entered adulthood. That’s why the Honda Civic Type R is the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2023.