Since the Type R nameplate first hit American soil, albeit as an Acura, SCCA members were fast fans. The nimble hatchback made quick work of autocross courses throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the Type R’s first taste of SCCA success coming at the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships in 1999, as the husband-and-wife duo of Bob and Katy Endicott won the G Stock and G Stock Ladies class titles. And even after production ended on the highly sought-after Acura, it was still racking up wins at autocrosses and road races. The car quickly reached legendary status, and it earned every bit of it.
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that SCCA competitors were chomping at the bit to turn the latest generation of the Honda Civic Type R loose in competition. But would the new, now turbocharged, iteration of the nameplate be competitive? We didn’t have to wait long to find out, because in September 2018, Javier and Stephanie Reynoso recorded the first title wins for the new Civic Type R at the SCCA Solo National Championships.
With its 306hp, 2.0L direct-injected turbo engine, the new Type R is just begging to stretch its legs. The 6-speed manual gearbox has nice ratio splits, and with plenty of torque on tap it’s easy to skip gears during mundane commutes. We did detect some torque steer in lower gears, but that was not completely unexpected considering the power level the front it is trying to keep under control.
We know the new Civic Type R is a rocket on the autocross course, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover the 2019 Civic Type R we tested was also a great all-around driver, working well in city traffic and on the highway. In addition, we found it easily matched the EPA fuel economy numbers (22 city, 28 highway), despite the fact that we may have dipped deep into the right pedal occasionally – or a lot.
The interior is well appointed and functional, with firm-but-supportive front seating and reasonably sized rear seats. And as a bonus, the folding rear seat makes it possible for track rats to haul all the gear they may need for a weekend of fun.
Our only criticism would be the 20-inch wheel package that seems to be nothing more than an excessive styling treatment. The ultra short tire sidewalls transmit almost every imperfection in the road, and likely do little to improve performance. We have seen a number new Civic Type Rs fitted with the 19-inch Acura NSX Y-Spoke wheels, and we cant help but think this is how the car should have come from the factory.
Wheel choice aside, the Civic Type R could be the perfect car for the autocross or track enthusiast who needs to drop the kids off at school but still wants to let loose on the weekend. And with an as-tested price of $35,595, the Type R offers a great balance of performance, value and Honda piece of mind. Will this version of the Type R become as legendary as its older sibling? It’s certainly off to a good start.