2023 Honda Civic Type R PVOTY Review: Incredible Evolution
Honda delivers more of what we already loved about the super Civic.
There are far more powerful cars. Cars with more exotic and expressive styling. Cars that feature what's considered to be a better configuration. But none of that matters when the new Honda Civic Type R blazes its way around a track and decimates performance car expectations.
Everything we loved about the previous Civic Type R, the first such model to reach our shores, has been reinforced and built upon for the redesigned 2023 version. The new car is boosted in the horsepower and torque departments, but not dramatically so. Yet none of our Performance Vehicle of the Year judges complained, because sheer power isn't what the CTR is about. "I know some people are sad Honda didn't give it a lot more power, but the engine is so well matched to this chassis," features editor Scott Evans said. "I don't know that the experience would be materially better with lots more horsepower. "
Similarly, no one mentioned that the Type R's front-drive setup isn't ideal for a performance car, or that the majority of its weight sits over the front axle. It simply doesn't matter because it's that good. Executive editor Mac Morrison did have this to say about its driveline orientation: "It's easily the greatest front-wheel-drive performance car I've ever driven. "
The Civic Type R did its best work at the track, with judges calling out its almost supernatural ability to stick to the tarmac, aided in part by its Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires. This subjective observation was backed up by the incredibly impressive 1.03 g skidpad number we recorded during our test of the 2023 Type R.
"The cornering speeds you can carry with this car without losing any grip or generating any tire noise are just staggering," Evans said. "I can't believe how fast this little hatch is through some of these corners." Morrison echoed the sentiment. "The amount of grip it has and the way it puts the power down is outstanding," he said. "It turns into corners so confidently with nice rotation, hangs on, and just goes." Editors also praised the Type R's braking power, lauded its gearshift action, and dug its Formula 1-style shift lights as part of the car's R+ mode.
Based on its performance at Streets of Willow, it was an absolute given that the Type R would move on to the finalist round. Out on the open road, some judges were a smidge less enamored with the car's ride, with a few reporting vertical motions that had them bouncing around in the driver's seat. (The seat itself was called out as one of the best performance-oriented thrones in existence.) Another gripe involved the ridiculous amount of hoops you have to jump through to turn off the Type R's rev-matching feature.
But those were minor issues. The judges' biggest debates concerning the new Type R were whether the improvements to its power, ride, and handling were too evolutionary and whether its more restrained exterior styling represented a step forward or backward. Sometimes, the thinnest of margins separate winning and losing, and despite the Type R's incredible Performance Vehicle of the Year showing, the judges ultimately leaned ever so slightly in a different direction.