The 2017 Honda Civic Type R is the first Type R to hit U.S. shores since the Acura Integra Type R did in 1997. Utilizing the brand new Civic four-door platform, the Type R takes the tame Civic and gives it a double-shot of coffee. Despite all of the incredible accolades the new Type-R has received, critics are still nibbling at the fact that it is still front-wheel-drive when its competitors are all-wheel-drive and the fact that it’s the slowest in a straight-line compared to its competitors. But here’s the thing, you can walk in the dealer and buy any of the competitor cars tomorrow, you can’t do that with the Type R. The Type R has a lengthy waiting list and is being produced in much smaller production numbers. So why is that?
Powered by a two-liter turbocharged Earth Dreams motor, the Type-R produces 306 hp and 295 lb/ft of torque. 0-60 comes in at 4.9 seconds and has an estimated top speed of 170mph, which is drag limited. Paired to an excellent short-throw 6-speed manual transmission, the shifts are short, precise, and just right in every way. The Civic Type-R features a rev-matching system, which is better than any professional driver, no matter how good they are.
In the corners: Grip for days. Seriously, this car slingshots from one corner to the next without any hesitation or understeer. After tossing it around a few backroads I completely understand why it currently holds the FWD production car record at the famous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany. Coming back to the whole FWD vs. AWD argument from the introduction of this article, I will religiously defend the Type-R in this segment of cars because it’s doing everything the competitors (RS & STI) can do, minus their heavier AWD systems. It’s light on its feet, eager to push you to go faster around that hairpin than you legally should, and just a hoot to drive fast.
Driving the Type-R around town is a piece of cake; it’s a Honda after all. The clutch is comically light, shift throws can be done with your pinky if needed, and the suspension when not in R+ mode is surprisingly comfortable. This car snaps necks when driving around town since for many people it’s their first time seeing the Civic Type-R in person.
The Civic Type-R also has one thing going for it that the STI and RS doesn’t: Exclusivity. Although the RS and STI are fantastic cars in their own ways, the Type-R is an individually numbered vehicle with a hefty waiting list. Something about individually numbered cars is just cooler if you ask me.
So to wrap things up, the Civic Type-R is something special that doesn’t roll off the assembly line at Honda too often. It’s one of those cars that will always have a diehard following no matter how it ages, partly because it has a big red “R” slapped on the rear hatch, partly because it redefines the limitations of front-wheel-drive cars from this point going forward. The moniker “Type-R” is the forbidden fruit to Americans much like the Nissan Skyline GT-R; you always want what you can’t have. Except now, you can have it, and it’s worth every penny of its MSRP.
Nathan Christian lives in Lee's Summit, MO and enjoys driving his Laguna Blue Honda S2000 and his Laser Red Saab 9-3 Viggen. Check out his Instagram account (@speedenthusiasts) to view more of his work.