2017 Retrospective: Year of the Honda Civic Type R

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Honda-tech.com FK8 Honda Civic Type R Retrospective Review Enthusiast Impressions

It’s the return of the Type R, in both name and spirit.

For 16 years (since the last Acura Integra Type R), the Type R badge has been absent in America, and it seemed like we were never going to see the red “H” emblem on U.S. soil again. It wasn’t until a few years ago that Honda started talks about bringing the Civic Type R to the States. What seemed like a dream too good to come true finally came in fruition in the spring of 2017. Honda graced us with the most hyped car of the year: The FK8 Civic Type R.

Having driven the Civic Sport and Si variants, I was quite eager to complete the trifecta, finishing off with the Type R. Months and months had passed, then out of nowhere, James Jenkins, Honda Manager of Public Relations, slid into my DMs and offered to let me drive a pre-production CTR that he currently had in possession. I obviously accepted the offer with much gratitude and appreciation. So I drove over to the American Honda Company headquarters in Torrance, CA on a Friday afternoon. However it wasn’t just any normal Friday, it was actually Soichiro Honda’s birthday. I guess you could say that it was fate that I had the chance to finally drive the CTR on the anniversary of Mr. Honda’s birth.

Honda-tech.com FK8 Honda Civic Type R Retrospective Review Enthusiast Impressions

“What is this sorcery?!”

Only having a few hours alone with the Type R, I wasted no time in driving it as much as possible with the limited one-on-one time I was given. As far as first impressions go, the FK8 felt familiar as soon as I hopped inside the cabin, just with a lot of red accents. You know, red is racing right?  At start up, the 2.0L turbocharged inline-four came to life with a subtle, yet slight hint of aggressiveness. Once I got on the road, I decided to give the go-pedal a boot full just to see what would happen.

[Insert expletive here] “Wow, this is a WEAPON” is what I said once the CTR started accelerating from about 2,500 RPM in 2nd gear. It’s not just the shear force of power and torque that the K20C1 produces that surprised me. It was how the car made me feel through the seat of my pants, and the steering wheel. I’ve driven loads of front-wheel drive cars in my time on public roads and on race tracks and have never experienced the immense front end traction and grip that the FK8 is able to deliver at a moment’s notice. It just puts the power down to the ground so well. Whether the road surface is slippery, uneven, or even off camber, it just doesn’t care and will get the job done with ease.

Honda-tech.com FK8 Honda Civic Type R Retrospective Review Enthusiast Impressions

Comfortable for daily driving and a weapon for weekends on the canyon or the track.

The FK8 Civic Type R might look like a Civic wrapped in Gundanium alloy, but trust me when I say that it’s a hot hatch with a dual-personality. For one, despite its samurai ready-for-battle looks, the ride quality is rather comfortable for daily driving. Yes, even with it’s 20-inch wheels and rubber-band-sized tires on all four corners. The CTR has 3 different drive modes: Comfort, Sport, and +R.

Once you start the car, the CTR starts off in the Sport mode setting as its default. Steering, suspension, and throttle response are all dialed in right in the middle. In Comfort Mode, everything reverts to a very lightweight calibration. Steering becomes effortless, the dampers switch to let’s tackle some horrible LA roads mode, and throttle response goes into a chill no-rush mode. However once you switch into +R mode, the gauge cluster glows red, and now it’s time to see what the R really stands for. Steering weight gets heavier, the dampers go to full stiff, and throttle response really opens up.

Honda-tech.com FK8 Honda Civic Type R Retrospective Review Enthusiast Impressions

Real world impressions from two Honda enthusiasts, from the inside and out.

After my brief escapade with the FK8, I met back up with Mr. Jenkins to grab a bite and discuss my experience that afternoon. I first went to tell him how impressed I was with how comfortable the ride quality was despite know how capable it is on track, especially for being the world’s fastest FWD on the Nurburgring. I also raved about how much of a sweetheart the K20C1 is, I simply went on and on. In return, he then shared his experience over the past week driving it everyday. To the office, to pick up his kids, get groceries, to even taking a quick cruise along Angeles Crest highway. He simply said that the CTR can do it all, and I couldn’t agree more.

For the starting price of $34,100 MSRP, the CTR is pretty much a no-brainer for buyers who are looking for something both practical and sporty. Whether you’re commuting or on your favorite backroad, you’ll find yourself smiling while rowing through the gears. We’ve been waiting a very long time for the Type R to come to the States and Honda delivered.

What do you guys think about the much hyped and beloved Civic Type R? Let us know on the forum!

Matt Eugenio contributes to Honda-Tech, 6SpeedOnline, and Rennlist, among other Internet Brands Auto sites.

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