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The new performance version of the popular compact put Honda back in the sport car game.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2023 Civic Type R is the most powerful sports car Honda has ever offerd for sale in America.Honda is putting an exclamation point on the all-new 11th generation Civic with the most powerful sports car the Japanese automaker has ever offered in America: the 2023 Civic Type R.

Since the Civic arrived in America 50 years ago in 1972, Honda has sold about 250,000 Civics a year, on average. The first Civic Type R arrived in 2017 as an all-out performance model with 306 horsepower. The new Type R goes a little further, offering 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque from its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. That power is passed through a 6-speed manual transmission with a limited slip differential to drive the front wheels. This is a traditional Honda layout, but it has been maximized with modern traction and stability controls.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The rear wing is just about the only option available on the well-equipped 2023 Honda Civic Type R.

The Type R designers didn't go for subtlety on the interior or the exterior. The seats, carpet, and highlights of the interior are all racing red. Even the seatbelts are red. The seats are ready for the racetrack, with holes in the back for racing shoulder belts, if you want to install them. But more importantly, the seats are comfortable, even for a full-size adult. Many performance compacts choose sport seats that are not at all suitable for daily use, but you could put several hundred thousand miles on the Honda seats in perfect comfort.

Outside, the Civic Type R shares very little bodywork with the standard Civic. The engineers put fat fender flares over the tires, and made them perfect instead of paste-on widebody gimmicks. Overall, the Civic Type R looks as sporty as it is, right up to the optional wing that actually provides downforce for the track.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2023 Honda Civic Type R comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and advanced Honda safety technologies.

One thing to remember is that the Type R is still a Honda, so you'll get the full Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver assistance and safety features. Honda redesigned all the airbags to provide even more protection, and the Type R comes with every modern convenience from adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring to traffic sign recognition. A 9-inch touchscreen provides infotainment access, and a Bose 12-speaker audio system carries your tunes. Navigation and smartphone integration is included.

The Civic Type R really shines on the road. It's got plenty of power without being overpowered or twitchy, and the manual transmission is crisp while offering an easy and forgiving clutch. One nice feature is an automatic rev-matching system on downshifts. So the car sounds like it means business, and you don't have to do anything to make that happen. The thing I want to emphasize, though, is how easy it is to drive the Type R like a normal Honda Civic. This is truly a hot rod you can drive every day in perfect comfort.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The front bucket seats in the 2023 Honda Civic R are comfortable and ready for racing seat belts.

One thing the Type R isn't, however, is cheap. With fees, the price is $43,990, and that's if you can find one without a dealer markup. There's just one option package; a protection film kit that costs $150. I recommend you buy that, as it will be more expensive to get it installed later. There are several a la carte accessories, including that fancy wing, if you want to personalize your Civic.

At the list price, the Civic Type R competes with a lot of very powerful machinery, including the Toyota GR Corolla, Subaru WRX, Nissan Z, and even the BMW 2-series. But along with the comparable prices, all these cars offer comparable performance. Honda's new Type R has put the brand back into the sports car game in a serious way.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The rear seats in the 2023 Honda Civic Type R are roomy enough for two adults to ride in comfort.

2023 Honda Civic Type R

Base price: $42,895

Price as tested: $43,990

Type: Compact hatchback

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (315 hp, 310 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 6-speed manual

EPA estimated mileage: 22/28

Overall length: 180.9 inches

Curb weight: 3,188 pounds

Final assembly: Yorii, Japan

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Because the 2023 Honda Civic Type R is based on the hatchback version of the popular compact, increasing its practicality.


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