2021 Honda Civic Type R

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2021 Honda Civic Type R Review: Fun Wheel Drive

The Honda Civic Type R has always been known as the sharpest and most track-focused hot hatchback on the market. Its aggressive styling might be a little too OTT for most, but it's not all show and no go - there's real intent behind that gaudy bodywork. A dying breed, the Civic Type R is offered only with a six-speed manual transmission that sends its power to the front wheels. Speaking of power, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces an impressive 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque - impressive figures no doubt, but enthusiasts have always appreciated the handling of a Type R more than what it does in a straight line. And thanks to adaptive dampers, driving this car over long distances is more comfortable than catching a reflection of the Type R in a shop window. Has the 2021 model changed that recipe, or is it still the ultimate FWD racer for the road? With US competitors dwindling, the Type R is in a current class almost of its own, but the Hyundai Veloster N is still willing to put up a solid fight.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 10 /10
  • Fuel Economy 7 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 10 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 8 /10
  • Reliability 9 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
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2021 Honda Civic Type R Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 Civic Type R?

For 2021, the new Civic Type R is identical to the old one - except that there's now a new trim level accompanying the standard model. It's called the Limited Edition, and it is. Just 1,000 units will be produced with 600 of them allocated for the States. Available exclusively in Phoenix Yellow Pearl paint, this model boasts lightweight BBS forged alloys wrapped in Michelin rubber, gloss black accents, and updated steering and damper tuning. It's also a little lighter and owns the FWD record at Suzuka's Formula One circuit.

Pros and Cons

  • Handles like it's on rails
  • Linear yet strong acceleration
  • Plenty of standard safety equipment
  • Huge cargo area
  • Still comes with a manual and only a manual!
  • Styling is controversial
  • Limited Edition model is expensive
  • Infotainment system is slow and outdated

What's the Price of the 2021 Honda Civic Type R?

The base Honda Civic Type R has a price of $37,895 MSRP before a $995 destination charge. The scarcer Limited Edition model has a base price of $43,995, but there aren't many ways to upgrade either. Thus, a fully loaded one doesn't cost much more than $50k.

Best Deals on 2021 Honda Civic Type R

2021 Honda Civic Type R Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Type R
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
Type R Limited Edition
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Honda Civic Type R Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

As much as we think that Honda has done an excellent job with the Type R's engine, it's the chassis tuning and handling ability of this car that make it stand out. That g-force meter is not just there for show - this thing grips better than some AWD cars. It turns in with astonishing precision and accuracy, and with the LE model's Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, it's even better. Those lightweight forged wheels from BBS also play a part, although you'd have to drive the regular Type R back to back with the LE to notice. Is that an indictment on the Limited Edition, special, track-focused model? No - it's a compliment to how good even the regular Type R is. The body always stays flat, the helical limited-slip differential ensures that you get no torque steer or unnecessary wheelspin, and the Brembo brakes bring you back to reasonable speeds time after time without exhibiting fade.

Another aspect of the car that we absolutely adore is the feel from the front wheels. While so many modern cars come with lifeless electric steering setups, the Type R still cares about driver engagement and transmits the goings-on of the front wheels to your hands in a refreshingly analog way that is nothing if not confidence-inspiring. The faster you go, the more you feel. The more you feel, the more you trust the car. The more you trust the car, the faster you can go. And that steering isn't excessively quick either. It's perfectly weighted for the track but is light enough for town use, and those adaptive dampers soak up all but the most aggressive bumps. The only downside we've noticed in the Type R's setup is that the big wheels and low-profile tires are a combo that makes for slightly higher road noise levels than we'd like, but in a car that is meant to feel alive and raw, Honda gets a pass for not achieving Golf GTI levels of refinement.

Verdict: Is the 2021 Honda Civic Type R A Good car?

If you're the typical Honda Fit buyer, then no, the Civic Type R is not a good car. It crashes over sharp bumps and its styling won't blend into the parking lot when you arrive for Tuesday-night bingo. But if you appreciate the finer details of a performance car - a linear power curve that is always usable, an ideal driving position, and a manual gearbox - then the Type R is more than good, it's excellent. It drives beautifully and its steering is almost telepathic. It goes like stink and grips like glue. Yet there's still space for plenty of luggage in the back, and the rear seats are more than hospitable. It also comes loaded with safety features and is set to become one of the greats, a classic even, when gas engines die out. Sure, it's a little pricey, but what car that's the best at what it does isn't? We love the Type R, and gaudy styling aside, we think it's one of the greatest FWD cars of our time. Sure, you can be more comfortable in a Golf, but if you have a zest for life and don't care about standing out in a crowd, the Type R is simply perfect.

What Honda Civic Type R Model Should I Buy?

If you can get the Limited Edition, it would be pretty nice to have bragging rights, but the regular Type R is almost identical and offers similar performance for a lot less money. We'd stick with the Touring trim and get ours in black to hide most of the gaudy bodywork. Black also goes nicely with the red-and-black interior theme, and although we'd be tempted by the available carbon fiber upgrades, a fast daily driver that you can use without worrying about damaging expensive parts is probably a smarter choice.

2021 Honda Civic Type R Comparisons

Volkswagen Golf GTI Volkswagen
Hyundai Veloster N Hyundai

2021 Honda Civic Type R vs Volkswagen Golf GTI

The latest version of the immensely popular and wildly successful Volkswagen Golf GTI has yet to touch down in the States, but the numbers suggest it'll be following a similar recipe to every generation before: usable power, a comfortable and classy cabin, and a few of the latest and greatest tech offerings from Wolfsburg. Its 2.0-liter turbo-four will be accompanied by both a six-speed manual and, for the lazy or lax, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. 245 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque suggest that it won't be the fastest around, but that's not what the GTI is about. This car is meant to be fun but family-friendly, so you'll get a comfy ride, a relatively affordable asking price, and a smooth engine. It'll also have a 10.25-inch digital cluster and a 10-inch infotainment display. If you want something that's subtle and civilized, get the GTI. If you want the opposite, the Type R is always going to be the default choice.

See Volkswagen Golf GTI Review

2021 Honda Civic Type R vs Hyundai Veloster N

With the death of the Ford Focus RS, the closest hot hatch to the Type R in terms of ethos is the Hyundai Veloster N. It too comes with a 2.0-liter turbo-four, FWD, and a six-speed manual. With 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, it's not quite as extreme as the Type R, but it still has plenty of equipment designed to enhance the driving experience, including adaptive suspension, a variable exhaust system, and a shift indicator. You also get plenty of safety gubbins, a comprehensive infotainment system with a premium audio setup, and sticky Pirelli rubber. But it's smaller in the back and less focused than the Honda, although most cars are. Basically, if you're looking for a middle ground between the GTI and the Type R in a smaller package, the Veloster N is ideal.

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