Honda fans in America have wanted patiently. As other countries got four generations of Civic Type Rs, we looked on longingly. Now it's our turn.
The 2017 Honda Civic Type R shoves 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque through its front wheels and handles it expertly.
A front suspension geometry that moves the steering axis outboard where it's closer to the vertical centerline of the wheels helps reduce torque steer. A helical limited-slip differential does too, and it also allows the 245/30R19 Continental ContiSportContact 6s to put the power down without letting the inner wheel spin wildly out of control in a turn.
The engine making all that power combines turbocharging with a Honda stalwart: VTEC. The turbo breathes 22.8 psi of boost down the gullet of the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and gives it good low-end grunt, while VTEC adds horsepower at the high-end of the rev range, though it doesn't turn up the high-pitched wail like it has in the past.
The 6-speed manual transmission is a perfect companion to the raucous turbo-4. It provides short, crisp, positive shifts, and comes with a rev-matching feature that can be turned off for those who would rather heel-and-toe.
Brembo provides the stopping power, with 13.8-inch front rotors clamped on by four-piston calipers. The track equipment includes all the cooling needed for the engine, brakes, and transmission. Many of the cooling ducts and scoops announce themselves with authority, as do the aero features like that big rear wing. The scoops, wings, and other geegaws give the Type R a raw boy racer look that belies the surprisingly grown up road manners.
The interior gets some aggressive touches, too. The deeply bolstered bucket seats are upholstered in red and black, and red stitching adds some flair.
From behind the wheel, though, the Civic Type R is amazingly civilized. It doesn't beat you up on a rough road, and that turbo-4 is perfectly happy to toddle along in traffic if you're not making it strain at the leash.
So what's the bottom line? The 2018 Honda Civic Type R is the most fun you can have in a front-drive car. It sends far too much power through those front wheels and reins it in when needed, then lets it loose when appropriate. Team that with a slick-shifting manual, a fairly smooth ride, useful space, and a mid-$30s price tag, and the Type R we've all been waiting for is a true performance bargain and a real contender to be our Best Car To Buy 2018.
Will it win?
Come on back on November 13 when we reveal our winner, along with the top dogs from our sister sites, The Car Connection, and Green Car Reports. To help readers choose the best vehicles in the categories they need, The Car Connection is also announcing the best choices in 15 vehicle categories. Finally, we'll reveal how you, our readers, have voted in our annual Driver’s Choice awards at the same time.