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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

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A white 2023 Honda Civic Type R is shown from the front at an angle in a showroom at a Honda dealer.

The Honda Civic Type R’s Journey to America

There are two main reasons to look for a Honda Civic at your local Honda dealer: you need an everyday commuter, or you’re looking for a racing machine. Searching for the Civic Type R puts you in the latter category. This affordable compact hatchback lets drivers experience the racing world without paying the better part of six figures. While it hasn’t always been known for its stylish appeal, the Civic Type R only improves with time, and it looks like the 2023 model is the best and most stylish one of them all.

Nothing about the new 2023 Honda Civic Type R means anything if you don’t know this label’s history. The Type R started at the race track, and it carries significant meaning. Put simply, this is not your ordinary Honda Civic. Sure, it can handle the town with style and ease, but the Civic Type R can tackle the race track in ways the classic Civic could never do. Let’s start by looking at this model’s early days to understand how vital this 30th-anniversary release truly is.

The Civic Type R’s History

The Type R label has been around since a bit before the Civic Type R’s 1997 debut, with the “R” always standing for “racing.” It began with an NSX supercar designed in partnership with Ayrton Senna, a professional racer. The NSX Type R was lighter than the average racecar and exerted 276 hp with its 3.0-liter V6 engine. This model was produced from 1992 to 1995 and is now deemed a rare and classic find. In 1996, Honda released another Type R model under its Integra line. It was brought to the public this time, but it wasn’t nearly as powerful as the NXS model. The Type R NSX and Integra models have appeared alongside the Honda Civic Type R several times throughout Honda’s history.

The first Honda Civic Type R remains the most widely produced Type R model. It first came out in 1997 and weighed 66 lbs less than the regular 1997 Honda Civic, making it easier to control on the race track. This CTR (shorthand for “Civic Type R,” not “Crash Team Racing”) may not win against Neo Cortex or Crash Bandicoot, but it has had its fair share of the spotlight in the gaming world. The 1997 CTR has appeared in Forza and Gran Turismo and is considered a cheaper yet capable start-out car option in those games. Honda’s first-generation model ran from its debut 1997 model year to 2000 and was initially only sold in Japan.

The second-generation CTR increased horsepower and became available in European countries, but its styling took a downgrade. It had a much boxier design, which made it far less visually appealing than the first-generation model. By its third generation (2007-2011), the CTR came in two different models for Japan and Europe. The Japanese CTR was released as a sedan instead of a hatchback, but the European version continued with the traditional hatchback design. The Japanese sedan version was the most powerful option, producing 222 hp versus the European hatchback’s 198 hp rating.

Four years passed between the generations, but the fourth generation (2015-2016) came in strong at 306 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, thanks to a turbocharged engine. It can hit 0 to 62 mph in just 5.7 seconds and is much more visually appealing than the second-generation CTR model. Like all “newer” vehicles, the 2015 model includes more tech-advanced features like dual-zone climate control, built-in navigation, driver assistance safety features, and rain-sensing wipers. Unfortunately, this model never made it to American Honda dealers.

A 2020 Civic Type R is shown from the front while driving down the road.

The Type R Makes It to America

Finally, after decades of waiting for a CTR model to hit the streets, American drivers got a chance to take home their very own CTR in 2017. The fifth generation car was an instant success, boasting the same 306 hp turbocharged engine in a more modern body. While some were off-put by its aggressive looks, its smooth handling and precise transmission made it the fastest front-wheel drive car in the world.

Now, the 2023 Honda Civic Type R marks the sixth generation with a brand-new body style and more power than ever before. Not only is the 2023 CTR the most powerful Type R model yet, but it’s also the most powerful Honda ever offered for sale in America. Perhaps the best news is that the new CTR’s design is upgraded. It is derived from the current 11th-generation (2022 and on) Honda Civic’s body style but is made sportier and more aerodynamic. The reshaped bumper and rear spoiler combination make its design stand out from previous models. It still follows the same hatchback design consistent since its 1997 debut, just more gracefully than before.

Many buyers have expressed concerns regarding the CTR’s style over the years. They love its price point and performance but weren’t sold on its style. That’s changing with the new model year. Prospective buyers’ comments are already flowing in regarding the 2023 CTR’s reveal––some even say that they couldn’t get past the model’s aesthetic in the past, but the new design changes their opinion.

On the flip side, the CTR’s interior design has always been on point. It is known for its bright red seating and interior accents. Honda still saw room for improvement, though. This model’s new design also includes a “Type R” dash plate, improving its visual appeal. Racing enthusiasts will love the 2023 model’s interior tech features as well. The multi-information display system and dashboard are upgraded and can display instant information. Honda LogR monitors real-time vehicle data and even allows drivers to record lap times and driver videos. This technology is much like the Corvette Data Performance Recorder but at a much lower price.

Like always, this race-ready model comes with a manual transmission. This time, it’s a 6-speed, and it’s paired with Honda’s award-winning 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 engine. Steering performance and suspension have been upgraded as well. Honda’s “Rev Matching Control System” is standard on this model, making shifting even more fun when you know what you’re doing. The goal is to make shifting more fun for the pros and much easier for the rookies.

The interior of a 2023 Honda Civic Type R is shown from above the center console.

Why Should I Buy the 2023 Honda Civic Type R?

The most obvious answer to this question is: because you can. We’ve been tested and teased about this model via press releases, reviews, and video games for three decades. But until recently, American drivers could only daydream about owning a CTR model. Not only are those days in the past, but the wait was well worth it, thanks to Honda’s upgraded new design. We also love that this model is much more stylish than ever before. The brand-new side sill design improves performance and makes the Civic Type R an eye-catching compact hatchback. There’s a fine line between “sleek” and “dorky” when it comes to hatchback models, and we think that Honda has finally found that line with its new 2023 CTR.

The most appealing factor here is that this model doubles as a great everyday vehicle thanks to its Civic heritage. It may be sportier than the average Honda Civic, but the Civic Type R can still get you to and from work at a reasonable price, thanks to that turbocharged I-4 engine. There’s really no better combination than when practicality meets fun. Whether you’re heading to the office or timing laps at the track, the new CTR meets all your expectations.

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