Payne: Honda makes ’em drool with racy, 2023 Civic Type R teaser

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 16, 2021

One of 2022’s most hotly anticipated cars is the Honda Civic’s range-topping Type R performance model. Honda whetted enthusiasts’ appetites with camouflaged, teaser photos of the hot hatch undergoing development at the Suzuka Formula One race track in Japan this week.

The striptease doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

The 2023 Type R takes the 11th generation Civic’s conservative styling and adds a big rear wing, swollen rear fenders for fatter tires, center tri-tailpipes, and bigger front grilles to feed the turbocharged beast within. The current-generation Type R makes an impressive 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque from its 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine and the new-gen model is expected to update the formula.

In defiance of the SUV trend, the compact 2022 Civic sedan was the sixth best-selling non-pickup vehicle in America in the first nine months of 2021, according to Car and Driver. The new Type R will likely be built in Indiana alongside the Civic Sport hatchback after Honda discontinued production in Swindon, England, earlier this year. The move would continue to cement Honda as one of the Midwest’s biggest manufacturers. The Japanese company already produces the #2 best-selling SUV in America, the CR-V, in East Liberty, Ohio, and the Accord sedan in nearby Marysville. Some 95% of Honda’s U.S.-sold vehicles are made in North America.

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R is hiding in plain sight at Suzuka race track in Japan. The hot hatch looks similar to the base Civic but has rear wing, swollen fenders and bigger front grillles to feed the expected 300-plus horsepower, turbo-4 cylinder engine within.

The 10th-generation car, manufactured from 2017-2021, was a wild sculpture of wings, splitters and scoops. Car and Driver wrote that the exterior looked like “a disheveled knife drawer,” and the new gen tones down the wardrobe significantly.

The last-gen car was a hit. So coveted is the Type R, it owns the fifth-highest retained value in the U.S. market — 61.3% after five years, according to IntelliChoice — behind only the Porsche Cayman GT4, Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder, Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet.

At half (or less) of the sticker price of those exotic beasts, the ultimate Civic is one of the most capable front-wheel drive cars in the market.

With standard, six-speed manual transmission, the 10th-generation car set the fastest time ever recorded at Germany’s epic Nürburgring race track for a FWD vehicle in 2017. Renault’s Mégane R.S. Trophy-R beat that time in 2019, and the new Type R surely has its sights on taking the title back when it debuts sometime next year.

From the front, the 2023 Honda Civic Type R is distinguished by bigger grilles to feed air to its high-horsepower engine.

The Honda leads a parade of affordable, front-wheel-drive, $30K-something performance compacts into the market, including the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Toyota Corolla GR, Acura Integra Type-S, and Hyundai Elantra N — and the popular Civic Si sedan, which shares the Type R’s manual shifter but is shy about 100 horsepower.

“I have a Type R on order,” said Jason Richman, a Honda enthusiast from Chicago. “I cannot wait. Last year’s Si compared to the Type R was like night and day. With the 11th-generation Si stepping up so much, the Type R is going to be at another level.”

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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