Honda Civic Type R hatchback (2015-2017) - Engines, drive & performance

The new Honda Civic Type R has the power and handling ability to show it means business

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Much noise has been made about the Honda Civic Type R’s performance on the road, with the Japanese brand doing all it can to make a "race car for the road".  It helps that the Type R’s engine produces 302bhp –more than the likes of the Volkswagen Golf R and SEAT Leon Cupra 290 and significantly more than the Ford Focus ST’s 247bhp.

The new Civic Type R also has a unique '+R' button to sharpen up throttle and steering response. It changes the engine setup slightly, too, making the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol more aggressive and racey. Plus, the adaptive dampers are firmed up for better road handling.

A typically tight and accurate Honda gearbox helps make the Type R very involving to drive. Plus, clever front suspension has helped minimise that old front-wheel-drive bugbear, torque steer (when the steering wheel squirms in your hands under accleration). Powerful Brembo brakes mean you can stop quickly, too.

Honda Civic Type R petrol engine

The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is one of the most powerful in the hot hatch class – very few direct rivals can compete. Only the Ford Focus RS manages to better it, but not by much. You’ll have to part with a lot more cash if you really want to outgun the Type R – only cars like the Mercedes A45 AMG and Audi RS3 can truly trump it on power.

The Type R is the fastest-accelerating front-wheel-drive production car right now, managing the 0-62mph sprint in 5.7 seconds. It maxes out at 167mph, beating the much more powerful Audi RS3, which is electronically limited to 155mph. 

Civic Type Rs have always been famous for high-revving engines that need to be worked hard to make meaningful progress. With the new model, the addition of a turbocharger helps to alleviate that by providing more of the power at fewer revs. Power comes in at around 2,500rpm and remains constant, but die-hard Honda fans will miss the loud, buzzy engine noise and frantic character of the old model.

Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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