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Sunday Drive: Fast and furious in the 2023 Honda Civic Type R

By Craig and Deanne Conover - Daily Herald | Dec 16, 2023
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Deanne with the new Honda Civic Type R up Mapleton Canyon as the fall leaves were changing, bringing a new adventure to Utah.
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The new 2023 Honda Civic Type R.
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Inside the new 2023 Honda Civic Type R.
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Inside the new 2023 Honda Civic Type R.
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The 2023 Honda Civic Type R at Sonoma Raceway.
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Inside the new 2023 Honda Civic Type R.

Honda has once again proven that they can take an already impressive car and turn it into something extraordinary. The 2023 Honda Civic Type R arrived in our drive, and after a week behind the wheel we came unilaterally to the opinion that it's nothing short of a high-performance masterpiece. It's a car that not only ignited our senses but leaves us craving more after every drive.

Exterior -- A devil in angelic clothing

The 2023 Civic Type R showcases a devilishly sleek yet polished appearance. Honda has masterfully combined aggressive lines and bold styling, distinguishing it from the rest of the Civic lineup. The bulging fenders, a hood scoop, an over-the-top wing and the signature Type R triple exhaust take center stage, but the subtler design elements like the carbon fiber trim and red accents really provide the finishing touches that make this car a head-turner.

The Type R is offered in various vibrant colors. We had the pleasure of test driving it in Championship White, which exuded sheer sportiness along with a sense of urgency to its exterior. From every angle, it was clear that the Civic meant business.

Interior -- A fusion of comfort and sportiness

Inside the cabin, the Civic Type R continued to impress us. We were greeted by form-fitting, very red sport seats that offered an ideal blend of comfort and support -- perfect for those long drives or exhilarating track days -- and matched the red carpet on the floor.

The interior was intuitively designed, with a sporty yet driver-focused layout. The flat-bottom steering wheel, felt great in our hands and added to the sensation of control in the Civic. The red interior accents, including the Type R emblem, provided additional color without being overwhelming, which would have been hard with the seats and floor completely standing out. Honda has expertly incorporated carbon fiber-like trim in the interior, further emphasizing its racing DNA.

Cutting-edge technology

The 2023 Civic Type R didn't just excel at performance and style; it was also loaded with cutting-edge technology. The infotainment system proved to be very user-friendly, featuring a crisp 7-inch touch screen display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Staying connected and entertained on our drive was a breeze, and the 12-speaker premium audio system transformed the car into a concert hall on wheels during those times when comfort was wanted over getting in touch with the road!

One of the tech highlights of this Civic Type R was the multi-angle rearview camera, which was extremely useful for parking and reversing into tight spots. The in-built navigation system was intuitive, and the voice control functionality made it easy to keep our focus on the road.

Unleash the beast

Now, onto the most exciting part of our test drive: performance! The Civic Type R is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine that generates a jaw-dropping 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. It was a car that eagerly responded to our commands, accelerating with ferocity and giving us an adrenaline rush every time we got behind the wheel. It was hard not to unleash all that power with every shift.

On the road, the Civic Type R was composed and handled very well. Whether we were cruising on the highway or attacking some corners on a twisty backroad, the car felt incredibly balanced and nimble. The Civic R offered us three different driving modes -- Comfort, Sport and +R -- allowing us to fine-tune our driving experience to however we felt that day. Of course, when engaging the +R mode, the car came alive, sharpening its reflexes and providing an incredibly visceral experience.

The six-speed manual transmission would be any enthusiast's dream. The shifts are precise and quick, making every gear change a joy. The perfectly weighted steering offered excellent feedback, further enhancing our feeling of control.

Track-ready performance

If you're a fan of taking your car to the track, you'll be pleased to know that the Civic Type R is track-ready right out of the box. Features like Brembo brakes, a limited-slip front differential and front MacPherson struts make it incredibly agile and capable on the racetrack.

The Honda Civic Type R was not just fast in a straight line; it was adept at taking corners with precision, hugging the road and making us feel like a professional driver. It seemed to be the perfect car to explore our limits on the track while also offering the practicality of a daily driver.

Everyday usability

Speaking of daily driving, the Civic Type R did not compromise on practicality. Despite its high-performance nature, it retained the inherent advantages of a Civic -- a roomy cabin, comfortable seats and a well-designed layout. The rear seats provided plenty of space for passengers, and the 25.7 cubic feet of cargo space is more than generous for a sporty hatchback. It even made a Costco run seem easy.

We could easily switch between its aggressive +R mode for a more spirited driving experience and Comfort mode for a more relaxed and comfortable drive. It is genuinely a true dual-personality car that offered us the best of both worlds.

Safety and peace of mind

Safety, of course, was paramount, and Honda had not skimped in that department either. The 2023 Type R came equipped with a suite of advanced safety features, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning and more. While its performance was and will be the crowning jewel, it was also reassuring to know that the Type R took safety very seriously.

A triumph of engineering

At the end of the week, we found that the 2023 Honda Civic Type R is a symphony of speed and style, an almost perfect harmony of performance and practicality. It managed to deliver an exceptional driving experience without compromising on daily usability. It proved to be a car that brought a grin to our face every time we started the engine and heard that distinctive exhaust note.

If you're in the market for a vehicle that will make you grin from ear to ear with every press of the accelerator, the 2023 Honda Civic Type R deserves your serious consideration. It's a triumph of engineering and a beacon of driving enjoyment, reaffirming Honda's place in the pantheon of automotive greatness.

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R isn't just a car; it's an experience. It combines the practicality of a daily driver with the raw performance of a sports car, providing a versatile package that enthusiasts dream about.

Base price: $42,895

Destination charge: $1,095

Price as driven: $44,385

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