Honda Civic Type R review: madcap Limited Edition driven Reviews 2023 | Top Gear
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Saturday 30th September
First Drive

Honda Civic Type R review: madcap Limited Edition driven

£38,690 when new
Published: 30 Sep 2020


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Not sure I’ve seen a Civic that colour before…

If you have, it was two entire decades ago and on the EK9 Civic Type R. Aka the first-gen of Honda’s hot hatchback which never came to Britain. At least not officially.

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Its trademark colour, Sunlight Yellow, is your only option on this new, Limited Edition version of the FK8 Civic Type R. Aka the fifth-gen of Honda’s hot hatchback which we do get in Britain, mercifully.

What’s special here? Paint and a plaque?

Well, yes. But so much more. And so much less. This is Honda playing Renault Sport at the stripped-out special game it’s mastered since the majestic Megane R26.R. So you’re looking at a Civic that’s lost 47kg while gaining about £5,000.

It costs a slightly breath-taking £39,995, but never has a stat been so irrelevant. Of the 100 Limited Editions coming to Europe, the UK’s getting 20, and they all sold within an hour of the car being announced. As well as the colour, visual tweaks include a black roof, black bonnet vent and black badges.

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At least someone lost weight in lockdown.

Yep, though compared to Renault’s ‘Ring-bashing Meganes, 47 kilos is a relatively meagre saving. All the windows stay glass, the rear seats remain and there’s no carbon wheels or brakes on offer here. Its 5.8sec 0-62mph time and 169mph top speed are no different to standard.

Here’s how the diet’s split: reduced sound deadening (-14.3kg), removal of the air con (-10.4kg), 20in BBS forged alloys wrapped in Michelin Cup 2 tyres (-10kg), miscellaneous spec differences such as binning the parcel shelf (-6.9kg) and no stereo or touchscreen unit (-5.4kg). The latter’s especially curious as it means the only 2020 Type R that doesn’t get Honda’s nerdy data-logging set-up is the one where its driver might want it most. The Limited Edition has, after all, been breaking track records.

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The Limited Edition launches with the entire Type R range’s mid-life update, so there’s also mild suspension tweaks (some bespoke to its BBS/Cup 2 setup), improved braking performance from new two-piece discs and a yet-more-satisfying manual gearshift thanks to a teardrop-shaped knob that recalls Type Rs of old, including the original Sunlight Yellow Civic. You also get a steering wheel rim wrapped in black and red Alcantara.

So how’s this one? Mad?

In our short drive in it, absolutely. And I’d wager a lot of it’s down to those Cup 2s. Our first go was limited to a dozen laps of the tight, technical Great Tew circuit in the p*ssing rain. The tenacity of the Type R’s braking, and the keenness of its front end into corners, was mesmerising. But too much aggression led to the kind of oversteer the standard FK8 rarely exhibits, and driving the Limited Edition smoothly in such sodden conditions meant taking a wider line into the corner, turning in a smidge later so that more speed could be scrubbed off to avoid overlapping brakes and steering even for a second.

And yet… what a hilariously crazed handful this Civic was with that smoothness sacrificed. Sure, the rear end snapped in a way it didn’t in the standard FK8 we drove beforehand, but such is the richness of the Type R’s communication – the feedback from its steering wheel and brake pedal are up there with Motorsport 911s – you know every millimetre of the car’s movements, even in nasty weather. I was grinning throughout each slide, not gritting my teeth.

What’s it like driven, y’know, normally?

We’re yet to drive the Limited Edition on road, or in drier conditions. I suspect it’ll ride with the surprising suppleness of the regular Type R while gripping even more ruthlessly on a sun-blessed B-road. I reckon it’ll feel spectacular.

But I don’t think it’ll be a better road car than standard. Losing the air con, stereo and nav – with no option to pop them back in – wounds this car’s usability. A lot. And yet the rear seats have stayed. I’d have liked to see those go, too, saving more weight and indulging this car’s ‘special occasion’ vibe more visibly. Because as it is, I reckon you’ll get broadly the same experience by slotting some Cup 2s onto your regular Type R while retaining the climate and audio equipment that’ll encourage a proper road trip.

Not that it matters; it’s rarer than Renault’s £52k Megane Trophy R and sold out in an hour, and I doubt anyone on the list will be disappointed one iota when they get their hands on the Limited Edition. Let’s just hope it’s not raining too biblically when they do…

Score: 9/10

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