The days of the manual transmission may be coming to a close, but every so often in this business, you are reminded of what things used to be like. We call those, the good old days.
In this case, a week with the 2023 Honda Civic Type R and its sweet six-speed manual gearbox brought back the pure joy that driving a sporty, powerful car can be when you get to have full control.
With a unique look, enhanced powerplant and a stylish red interior, the Type R is not your usual Civic.
Of course, that also applies to the price tag, which rings in at $51,930 – far from the usually affordable Civics of the everyman.
Powertrain: Under the aluminum hood, meant to reduce the Type Rs weight, is a peppy turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine delivering 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.
All that power gets moved through a very smooth six-speed manual transmission. About the only thing I wasn’t enamoured with about this gearbox was the shiny silver shift knob, which I found to be quite slippery.
But moving through all six gears was smooth and effortless, which is not surprising to me given my previous experiences with Honda’s manuals.
For best performance, premium fuel is recommended for the Type R. It has an estimated combined fuel efficiency of 9.7 litres per 100 kilometres, which I unfortunately was not able to match, returning a 10.9 L/100 km.
Exterior: In addition to being made of aluminum, the Type R’s hood also features an air intake for the turbo engine. Another distinctive trait of this Civic model is a very aggressive-looking rear wing spoiler, essential to helping produce downforce for handling and control.
Our tester was painted in Championship White – one of only three colours for the Type R (the other being Rallye Red and Sonic Grey Pearl).
In a pleasant contrast to the white is all the black bits – including the wing and a nice set of 19-inch piano black alloy rims, with red brake calipers peeking through.
The rear look is capped by an aggressive-looking centre-mounted triple exhaust – with an active exhaust valve for a nice throaty sound, especially in then +R drive mode (more on this later).
Interior: If you like red, then the interior of the Type R is for you.
The front sports seats are covered in a red suede-effect fabric, and they are very comfortable and hugging when you push the vehicle. Oh, and the carpeting and seatbelts in the Type R are also red.
The four-seater does revert to a more traditional black material for the rear seats.
Up front, the dashboard is cleanly designed, with neatly arranged controls for ventilation below the nicely styled air vent covers. All the controls for the infotainment system are all contained to the screen.
And on the honeycomb cover for the vents, you will find your Type R serial number for this limited-run production vehicle.
Infotainment: Not only does the Type R deliver plenty of driving enjoyment, it also provides plenty of enjoyment for audiophiles.
With a 12-speaker Bose premium sound system, turn up the volume and enjoy some sweet tunes (unless of course you prefer the exhaust note, in which case, keep it low).
The system, powered by a 9-inch display, features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired and wireless), as well as satellite radio.
The interface for the system is simple and effective, with clear on-screen menus and little lag in operation.
Drive: It is pretty difficult to not enjoy your time behind the wheel of the Civic Type R.
Even in the Comfort drive mode – the base of four settings – there is plenty to appreciate. Of course, for the fullest way to enjoy the Type R is the +R drive mode, which enhances the driving dynamics of the Type R, not to mention the exhaust note.
The turbo engine delivers plenty of power, while the steering feel is responsive, and the handling are on point and provide excellent driving dynamics.
Overall, the Type R delivered the kind of driving experience you would expect from a sporty vehicle like this.
Conclusion: The Type R has long had a certain allure to it, for fans of the Civic who wanted something with a little more – ok, a lot more – pep and a unique appearance.
The current Type R, a limited run for the 2023 model, certainly continues to have that appeal.
2023 Honda Civic Type R
Price as tested: $51,930.00
Configuration: Front engine/Front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder/ 6-speed manual
Power/torque: 315 horsepower/ 310 lb-ft of torque
Fuel (capacity): Premium (47 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 9.7 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 10.9 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Hyundai Elantra N, Subaru WRX, Volkswagen Golf R
Website: Honda Canada