Currently reading: Nearly new buying guide: Honda Civic Type R (FK8)
Iconic, 316bhp hatch has conquered the track, can it conquer the nearly new market?

In 2002, the front-drive Ford Focus RS torque-steered onto the hot hatch scene. It had 212bhp. Fifteen years later, Honda boosted its front-drive Civic Type R to 316bhp and promised different results. 

The promise was kept. It came as quite a revelation: all that grunt going through the front wheels and yet it didn’t tear itself apart. It’s a testament to the Type R’s engineering magic – the same magic that causes people to rave about its pin-sharp handling, poise and composure. 

Take the suspension. It’s a great example of what we’re talking about, because it’s reasonably compliant yet also delivers the flat cornering and quick direction changes you expect from a performance car. The adaptive dampers can be altered via modes ranging from Comfort to track focused +R. 

Honda civic type r rear right

This is a true driver’s car – one of the best in recent years. The steering is nicely weighted, communicative and direct, while the gearshift of its six-speed manual ’box is short, sharp and sweet. In terms of driving involvement, Autocar editor-at-large Matt Prior once described the Type R as “the closest a hot hatch comes to something like a GT Porsche” – and that’s high praise indeed. 

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine deserves praise as well. Honda’s famed VTEC variable valve timing is present, although this iteration of it adjusts the degree of exhaust-valve lift to reduce turbo lag.

It’s another example of intelligent engineering and helps make the engine quick to respond and eager to rev to its 7200rpm redline. You’ll also see 0-60mph in 5.7sec. 

The engine is far from your wallet’s worst nightmare, either. Average fuel economy is rated at 36.7mpg and, with a light right foot, you can see close to 40mpg. Overall running costs are not intimidating and nor is this a fearsomely expensive car to buy in the first place. 

Honda civic type r interior


Read our review

Car review

New Honda Civic Type R gets an increase in power, price and capability - is it still the king of the big hot hatches?

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A budget of around £25,000 gives you access to 2017 and 2018 cars and mileages tend to float around the 45,000 mark. Around £30,000 gets you into a 2020 car, which could be a compelling choice because of a subtle facelift that included retuned suspension, better brakes and a new gearknob. 

In reality, it all adds up to just a slight improvement overall, but it’s an improvement, nonetheless. 

Late cars from 2021 rise to around £35,000, and then we come to the special editions. The Type R Sport Line loses the big wing and gains a softer ride. Again, it’ll cost you around £35,000. 

The Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition was restricted to just 20 examples in the UK and it goes in the opposite direction to the Sport Line. It gets bright yellow paint, a 47kg saving (via its forged wheels and lack of infotainment, among other alterations) and a price of around £55,000. 

Honda civic type r exhaust

And yes, that’s used. But no matter which Type R you opt for, you’re getting a class-leading hot hatch for keen drivers yet one that’s also remarkably well rounded. It’s a prime example of a car that’s more than the sum of its (beautifully engineered) parts.

Our top spec

Type R GT: The Type R GT is half the price of a Limited Edition yet every bit as good. To some, the Sport Line is perhaps easier on the eye but you’ll be known as the person who bought the toned-down Type R.

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Need to know

Honda civic type r infotainment

Apart from the absence of a fifth seat, the Civic Type R is impressively practical. It has one of the most spacious cabins in its class and four adults can fit comfortably. Its boot is particularly large as well. 

From new, standard equipment included 20in alloy wheels, adaptive dampers, LED headlights and a reversing camera. 

In the latest What Car? Reliability Survey, Honda ranked 12th out of 32 manufacturers.

Buyer beware

Honda civic type r engine bay

Check the owner: These cars are built to be driven hard, so don’t be immediately put off if you find one that has been. But that said, it’s still well worth looking for signs of careful ownership – such as an owner who allows the car to warm up before using full throttle. 

Insurance and servicing: Although the Limited Edition falls into insurance group 41, the regular Type R is in group 38. This is on a par with hot hatches of its calibre. Honda offers fixed-price servicing and Type R plans tend to waver around £350 (for a single service).

Our pick

Limited Edition: If your pockets run deep and the Limited Edition intrigues you, we can see why you’d choose it. With its rarity, it makes sense as an investment. Do drive it, though, because all Type R’s deserve to be.

Wild card

Renault Mégane RS: Another front-drive hot hatch with its own engineering trick: four-wheel steering, which makes it very agile. Not as powerful or plush as a Type R but still quick and daily drivable.

Oliver Young

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jason_recliner 3 March 2023

These just look better and better with the passing of time.