2015 Honda Civic Type R review

2015 Honda Civic Type R

The 2015 Honda Civic Type R comes as the Japanese maker returns from the hot-hatch wilderness and a snoozefest of road cars with a turbocharged, samurai-sword sharp warrior

The new Civic Type R could be a return to form for Honda: it’s the first time the maker, known for its rip-roaring, high-revving atmo VTEC engines, has decided to use turbocharging to motivate one of its Type R high-performance models.

It’s time for Honda to show its hand: following a drip-feed of spy images and Nurburgring lap-time claims, it’s time to see if Honda really has rediscovered its mojo with the Civic Type R showing a return to form – or an epic failure…

VW Golf R, Renaultsport Megane RS275, Ford Focus RS, Audi RS3, Holden Astra VXR, Mini Cooper S JCW

Radical shift in Type R philosophy gets largely positive results. Banzai power and the smarts to get it all to the road without drama create a technically impressive package that’s a blast to drive. Only character and good taste is lacking.

PLUS: Ferocious pace, super grip levels and power delivery
MINUS: Lack of steering feel and precision, still not locked in for Australia

THE 2016 Honda Civic Type R had to change. Honda built its high-performance brand on naturally aspirated fours that revved so hard you thought the needle was doing a second lap of the dial. But rivals nailing sub-eight-minute Nürburgring laps and tightening global emissions standards boxed the hot Civic – the last Type R in eight years – into a corner.

Honda simply had to go for forced induction. So while the new Civic Type R still retains a 2.0-litre four with a VTEC kick, there’s now a mono-scroll turbocharger and an air-to-air intercooler hanging in front of it. The result is a meaty 228kW and 400Nm – huge 80kW and 199Nm increases over what went before – to net a 7min 50.63sec lap of the ’Ring, a new front-wheel-drive record.

2015Honda Civic Type R2

Laggy down low, the motor needs to be pulling 3000rpm to do business, but it does get a serious shift on beyond that threshold, whipping to its 6500rpm power peak in a blur of scenery and an uncharismatic roar of boost. The VTEC switch no longer induces a step-change in either delivery or sound, but the Type R does keep on revving to 7000rpm without feeling like you’re flogging it to prove a point.

It means third gear is often enough on fast and flowing back roads, but to hold one gear is to miss out on one of the sweetest shifts you’ll experience: the six-speed manual has just a 40mm throw, so you can knock the shifter back and forth like you’re playing Grand Theft Auto on the PlayStation. If we’re being picky we’d say the last-gen car’s shift was defter still, and that the brake and accelerator could be closer together for heel-and-toe fetishists, but still, nice gearbox.

2015Honda Civic Type R3

Putting 228kW through the front wheels is a big ask, but a helical slippy diff, 235/35 R19 tyres and what’s called Dual Axis Strut Front Suspension gives the Type R an answer. Like similar hardware on the Focus and Megane RS, DASFS – catchy, huh? – isolates the suspension strut from the turning of the front wheels, so more rubber touches the surface through corners. More rubber, more traction, simple.

Wipe off speed with the four-pot Brembos – great pedal feel, great stopping power – point the nose at the apex and mash the throttle, and the rubber bites, you’re sucked through the corner on the perfect line, with grippy Alcantara bucket seats holding you all the while. In the dry there’s no hint of wheelspin or torque steer, and you’ll need excessively optimistic entry speeds to find understeer. Adaptive dampers are a big step over the fidgety last-gen Civic, too, still feeling firm but providing far more compliance; it means you don’t lose confidence bouncing over the road surface.

2015Honda Civic Type R4

Press the R+ button and hard-core gets harder still. Throttle response snaps from slushy to engagingly sharp, the fast and accurate steering gets heavier for no real reward – sensitive types will already crave more feel – and the adaptive dampers become 30 percent stiffer, which makes the car pogo madly. It’d be nice to tweak each setting individually because really it’s the engine mapping that’s the big win here, the steering tolerable, suspension feeling downright daft for the road.

That’s a criticism you could level at the body styling, too, but Honda says the vents in the front wings and behind the front wheels are essential to release heat from the crammed engine bay, and the spoilers and sideskirts and stick-on bits elsewhere team up with a nearly flat under-floor for genuine downforce. Proceed straight to jail if you detect any of that on the public highway.

2015Honda Civic Type R5

There’s much to admire about the Civic Type R, then, because this really is a hot hatch to give double-the-cash performance cars a headache. But the Megane RS remains the more tactile and interactive machine, and that’s still where we’d spend our cash.

Model: Honda Civic Type R
Engine: 1996cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo
Max power: 228kwW @ 6500rpm
Max torque: 400Nm @ 2500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Weight: 1382kg
0-100km/h: 5.7sec
Fuel economy: 7.3L/100km (EU)
Price: $40,000 (estimated)

Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.

 LPA Likeitleaseit Button 300X50

Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.

Want free access to 5 years of Wheels archive content? Sign up now! 


  • never hitting our shores for sale
  • terrible luck in the oz market shows Oz will not buy up big if oz bus so all
  • When will we find out if this car will be hitting Australia's shorelines? I am also guessing 40k will be base price, then you have to add on road costs etc. Will be closer to the 50k mark which is a top end price for the market the Type R will appeal too. Good luck Honda.
  • We are fast becoming Americans, with all automatic cars, and no "stick shift". A real shame, as the drivers of today are become lazy and inattentive because the car does so much for them. I have always owned manual cars, and love the feeling of control. Good on Honda for sticking to a real gearbox. But I do agree, $40K, no chance. They will end up being more than $50k in Australia, and will be overpriced for the average person who wants to buy this type of car. So they probably wont make it to Oz, and we will be left with the rest of the stodge that is now Honda Australia....
  • @Otto AU I disagree with both of your points. If these land at 40k watch them fly out of the showrooms. That's ugly base wrx money. Honda and the Type-R has massive brand cachet with the young cashed-up Asian-Australians. These buyers almost always choose manual gearbox, as I do. Auto or flappy paddle garbage will just not do.
  • I think $40k is a pipe dream, and nobody wants manual tranny any more...