GAINING GRIP, LOSING HYPE: 2021 HONDA CIVIC TYPE R
Hardcore hot hatches were never really a popular commodity here in the US; we’re not sure why either. But with the Ford Focus RS, Volkswagen Golf R and Subaru WRX STi perished to wind, only two really remain – Honda Civic Type R and the Hyundai Veloster N. Yet, now that we’re a few years into these night crawlers, it feels as if they’re starting to lose the hype they once brought to the table.
Granted, it takes a true driving enthusiast to own one of these track scoundrel machines; after all, sacrifices are made to drive something pure to the heart. Honda however noticed some of these detriments that the Type R was causing their clientele and wanted to bring a little more of the everyday comforts with the driving pleasures the Type R has to offer.
Going into 2021, the general Civic line didn’t receive any significant updates as it was slightly freshened up in 2020. The Type R was the biggest receiver of its mid-cycle refresh as it received a tidied up front and rear update to its design, a slightly modified grille to allow more air intake, updated interior materials like Alcantara wrapped steering wheel and retro-styled gear shifter resembling the 1997 Civic Type R. Additionally, the Type R received Honda’s latest safety hardware to include Lane Denature Warning with Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision Alert with Emergency Braking and Adaptive Cruise Control that thankfully manages to remain engaged while utilizing the clutch.
With significant modifications to the engineering dynamics, the Type R has been dramatically evolved into an everyday cruiser. The suspension has been updated with an adaptive damper system control software that evaluates the road 10 times faster than before and generates a creamy smooth driving dynamic that even under its hashes, Rrrrr race mode, it’s like we’re constantly driving over a freshly paved asphalt. This suspension modification also enhances the most important party piece of the Type R, handling. Before the handling was already darn near perfect, this upgrade however makes it even more nimble and responsible – steering is constantly sending feedback as every street corner feels like we’re hitting the apex on the track.
Performance on the other hand remains the same as the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is a delightful little scamp. Its 306-horsepower and smooth short-shifting six-speed manual handles the day-to-day as if it thinks it’s an ordinary Civic. That is until our foot is pushed to the floor and we can feel the butterflies in our stomach push back – it is still one surprisingly quick rebel. Our driving style could never really see just how quick the Type R can be, but with 5.0-seconds to 60-mph, that’s plenty quick to get anyone into trouble. Honda, however, is getting pretty crafty in the technology game – they’ve introduced a new datalogger, Honda LogR™. With the ability to connect the Type R to any smartphone, whether iPhone or Android, can provide a variety of performance information to help improve on one’s driving skill on and off the track. If only their touch screen infotainment system was as responsive as some of these new hardware and software updates they’re introducing.
But as with any blissful driving machine, there is a price to pay for all that joy and the Honda Civic Type R is a pricey one pushing $38,000. It’s even harder to bite when its only competitor it’s nearly $8,000 cheaper. While the Type R sustains incredible grip on the streets, we sure hope it maintains its grip with the consumers.
**Photos provided by American Honda Motor Co, Inc.**
Vehicle: 2021 Honda Civic Type R Touring
Base Price: $36,995
As-Tested Price: $37,950
Engine: 2.0-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder
HP | Torque: 306-HP |295 lb-ft of Torque
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive w/ Limited Slip Differential
MPG: 22 | 28 | 25 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG: 25.9-MPG Combined | 30.4-MPG Highway (200-miles at 75-mph)
Fuel Range: 270 miles
0-60 MPH: ±5.0 seconds