Breaking Down The Design Of The New Honda Civic Type R

Design / 11 Comments

The designers have spoken, and we've taken notice.

The next generation of Civic Type R is here, and we're excited for another front-wheel-drive car that can hang with all-wheel-drive hatchbacks without the added weight and complexity. We were fortunate enough to get a preview of the new hot hatch ahead of the swanky public reveal in an airport hangar near LA. Unfortunately, Honda still isn't giving much away on specs, so we'll have to wait for the first drive event for the big details like power. All we know is that the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine will make more than the FK8 generation's 306 horsepower and is faster on the track.

However, a close look at the latest Civic Type R reveals a lot of design choices. The obvious is that the new model has followed the standard Civic into growing up. Gone is the over-the-top cartoonish design with sharp lines everywhere as well as the fake vents and roof-mounted vortex generators. Honda has even toned down the high-mounted rear spoiler. Overall, it's a longer, wider, and more sophisticated Civic R Type, but there's more to it than that.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

The Front End: Form Follows Function

Honda tells us that from the windscreen pillars forward, the Type R's bodywork is distinct from the standard Civic and Si model. That includes the bumpers, the hood with its vent, and the fenders. Part of the bumper contains a big, wide-open mesh grill, which allows air to get pushed into the intercooler, while the air curtain vents at the sides guide air past the wheels down the side of the car. The new hood vent directs air directly between the intake manifold and the radiator. On the back side of the wheel, we can see an outlet in the fender that lets the air out and reduces pressure from inside the wheel well. Having extracted more power from the 2.0-liter engine, Honda clearly worked hard on making sure it stays nice and cool

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Side Profile: Holding The Styling Together

The new Civic Type R still uses vortex generators, but they aren't mounted on the roof this time. Instead of a series of ugly lumps at the back of the roof, Honda has smartly integrated small vortex generators into the lower black trim before the rear wheels. The rear doors are specific to the Type R as they need to swell out to join the rear fender bulge and keep the overall shape smooth. That's a bigger deal than it seems and shows Honda's commitment to getting everything right in the looks department.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

The Back: Definitely A Type R

A lot is going on at the back of the 2023 Civic Type R, but it doesn't shout at you like the previous generation. The two major visual elements are still there because a Type R wouldn't look right without a large wing and a triple tailpipe outlet on display. The exhaust outlets are more pronounced as there's no busy trim to distract from them, which we think balances nicely with the less flashy wing that, rumor has it, generates less downforce than the previous one. It's still obvious and catches the eye, but it doesn't look like an overenthusiastic prop designer on a Batman movie created it. Instead, it looks like a high-quality aftermarket piece and is likely easily replaced by the inevitable slew of aftermarket parts that will follow the car's release.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Wheels And Tires: Shorter, Wider

The previous generation Civic Type arrived on a set of 20-inch wheels, which looked fantastic but weren't ideal for track use. Not only does the massive diameter risk easy buckling on curbs, but the extra mass isn't helpful, and it gets expensive when you're wearing rubber faster than just driving on the track. We would have liked Honda to drop to 18-inch wheels as that's a standard modification for people tracking their last-ten Type-R Civics. The 19's do look great for the street, though, and the wider rubber is welcome. The new wheels are clad with 265-mm wide Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. We can also see Brembo rotors behind the wheels, but there are no specific details on those yet.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Engine: Maximizing The Turbo

Under the hood, the engine bay is just as busy as the previous one, but there are some differences. Most noticeably is the plate on top of the air intake that makes us wonder what's hiding under there, but closer inspection shows the turbo is now directly mounted to the manifold. That's good for efficiency, but it might be the main ingredient to extracting extra power from the engine. How much extra horsepower Honda now pulls from the 2.0-liter engine is anyone's guess, but given that 306 hp was more than enough for the previous generation, we're not expecting a huge boost. Around 320 hp seems likely.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Interior: Lots Of Red

The interior's red carpet might be the only OTT element of the new car, but the new seats look fantastic and have plenty of bolstering and loops for racing harnesses to pass through. Honda told us a lot of work had gone into making them functional and comfortable over a long drive. We only spent five minutes sitting in the new seats, and the first impression is that they have a similar feel to Nissan's Gravity Seats - which is a good sign. The red trim and accents are all that's available, so if you don't like the red carpeting, you'll have to get used to it. The steering wheel is nicely toned down over the previous generation and features sticks with only essential buttons and controls. The gauge cluster is clear, clean, colorful, and has the appropriate Type R vibe without overdoing it.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Conclusion: Style And Performance

To us, it feels like Honda has paid careful attention to feedback from the last Civic Type R and used it to help focus the new car's design. Of course, the new Civic has a lot to do with its more grown-up look. And it seems the designers used that as an opportunity to bring a more practical approach to the Type R and work its elements into something more subtle and cohesive than the last generation. Despite its maturer styling and stance, it promises to excite our inner boy and girl racer without yelling "look at me!" all over town. For those that need to make a big song and dance about the car they drive, there will be the inevitable aftermarket to satisfy their craving. We'll steer clear of that as we think the new Type R looks fantastic as is and believe it'll earn its place in the history books.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

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