26 September 2023

Not Done Yet

Start the conversation

By Paul Gover.

The world is driving away from hot hatches, even Ford with the Focus RS, but thankfully not Honda.

It has just renewed its commitment to the Civic Type R and, in Australia, has even found a way to feed an extra 500 cars to local fans through 2023.

The extra supply is a reflection of the car’s popularity and local demand – despite a price-tag that has blown out to $72,600.

It’s a lot of money for what is really a toy car, but the sixth-generation Type R is a car that can do an awful lot of good stuff to justify the price.

For a start, it makes you smile.

The visual impact comes from the over-sized rear wing and front spoiler, the three-pipe exhaust outlet and interior tweaks including racer-red seat trim and a solid-aluminium shift lever.

Yes, it still has a shift lever because the Type R is still a manual. And it’s a manual with a tweaked turbocharged engine that makes 235 kiloWatts of power and 420 Newton-metres of torque.

It’s more than good enough for driving enjoyment of all kinds, although the front-wheel drive layout can make things a bit sketchy if you’re in full-power mode on a wet road.

So there are smiles from the style and smiles from the drive.

But the Type R is also a four-door hatchback – unlike the early R coupes – with a well-sized boot and the sort of quality you always expect from Honda.

It also has all the latest electronic safety systems, including traffic-sign recognition, and an overdue update to the infotainment that incudes a big display screen and wireless connectivity.

So it’s practical, and easy to park, but people who want a Type R are likely to be shopping it against a Volkswagen Golf GTI or R. It’s a tough field and the Honda loses grip to the all-wheel drive R, but has more visual impact and fun factor than the latest GTI.

Jumping into the Type R, I’m reminded – instantly – that the seats are for people who like to feel racy. They have lots of side support but you need to be the right size and shape. And then there is the unique feel of the aluminium shifter.

When you’re driving SUVs most of the time – that’s me – anything remotely sporty can feel like a Ferrari.

But the Type R really is quick and fun and rewarding. It’s not as pop-bang-pop anti-social as some of BMW and Benz’s turbo pocket rockets, and that’s not a bad thing.

It still has a sweet exhaust note and you can choose from three driving modes, or set your own. They tweak everything from the engine response to the dashboard layout and steering feel

For me, Sport is rubbish because the steering becomes rock hard and unresponsive. But it is offset by great engine punch, from around 2500 revs, and the chance to fly up to the redline with warning lights for a bit of Formula One impact.

Best of all, you don’t have to be playing at grand prix racing all the time.

The Civic Type R has a great, solid feel on the road and is roomy and comfortable.

It’s proof that a hot hatch, done right, still has plenty of appeal in 2023.


Position: hot hatch

Price: from $72,600

Engine: 2-litre turbo petrol

Power: 235kW/420Nm

Transmission: 6-speed auto, front-wheel drive

Plus: fun and practical

Minus: costs too much

THE TICK: every time

Score: 8.5/10

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.