By on March 24, 2021

2020 Honda Civic Type R

2020 Honda Civic Type R Fast Facts

2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (306 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 295 lb-ft @ 2,500 -4,500 rpm)

Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive

22 city / 28 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

10.5 city, 8.4 highway, 9.6 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $36,995 (U.S) / $43,680 (Canada)

As Tested: $37,950 (U.S.) / $45,991 (Canada)

Prices include $955 destination charge in the United States and $1,770 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

The last time your humble scribe traveled on an airplane to test drive a new car in some location that is “not here” was just over a year ago. That vehicle was the Honda CR-V Hybrid.

While in Tucson, Honda reps told us to keep an eye on our inboxes for an upcoming drive of the updated Civic Type R. This raised my eyebrows, as I knew the changes to the Type R for 2020 were fairly mild, though they did promise some improvements to the already excellent driving dynamics.

Still, I’d not turn down too many chances to drive what might be the best high-performance compact car one can buy today.

Of course, COVID binned that trip, along with most others. So instead, a Type R ended up in my garage for a week.

There’s not much I can say about the Type R that I haven’t said already, and while some of the changes are meant to improve the car’s performance, the differences are so subtle that it might require a trip to the track to sort things out. I certainly didn’t notice much difference, positive or negative, on public roads.

2020 Honda Civic Type R

It remains a hoot to drive, with swift acceleration that is mostly unaffected by torque steer – a neat trick in a high-powered front-drive machine. It still carves corners in a manner reminiscent of racing machines, with accurate and direct steering that is rarely seen on street cars. It still has a clutch/shifter relationship that makes the gearbox a joy to row.

It also still rides stiffly, has a cheesy boy-racer cabin to go along with cheesy exterior boy-racer looks, and the rear wing is still a source of embarrassment when you’re trundling about town.

Those flaws annoy, and along with the sticker price, it makes the compact sport-sedan intender who intends to daily drive their purchase start thinking about cars that offer 75 percent of the performance for a less-dear price. Honda’s Civic Si – currently on hiatus for 2021, awaiting the next-gen Civic – or the Volkswagen Jetta GLI, for example.

2020 Honda Civic Type RBut those with stout backs and the inability to shrug off jokes about overcompensation can still daily this thing.

Either way, if you get the chance to put a Type R through the wringer, you’ll be rewarded.

The changes for 2020 include a mild refresh which adds body-color accents to the bumper cutouts. More important is the larger grille – the opening, which is 13 percent larger, helps to improve engine cooling.

Perhaps more notable are the suspension updates. The adaptive dampers read the road 10 times faster, according to Honda, and stiffened rear bushings for the lower-B arm are meant to improve cornering. Front-suspension compliance bushings are stiffened 10 percent longitudinally and the ball joints have lower friction. That is meant to make the already-sharp steering, well, sharper.

2020 Honda Civic Type R

Two-piece brake rotors replace one-piece units upfront in a bid to reduce unsprung weight, while the pads use a new material that is more resistant to brake fade. Honda claims the effort drops about five pounds of weight, and additional tweaks are meant to lead to less play in the pedal before the driver feels the binders biting.

Interior changes are so minimal that only the nerdiest of Honda nerds will notice without a guided tour or a press release in hand. They include new Alcantara wrapping for the steering wheel, a new shift knob, and a new suede shift boot. There’s also a system to enhance engine noise and a performance datalogger that track rats can use to pour over their results after a hot-laps session.

As I said, it was hard to notice the suspension and brake changes during spirited driving on a public road. I suspect I’d need to track the car and/or compare it to a 2019 model back-to-back to really notice.

That’s not a bad thing. The tweaks are meant to make a great car better, and they sure don’t make it worse.

2020 Honda Civic Type R

Standard features not already mentioned include Type R badging, serial-number plate, 20-inch wheels, helical limited-slip differential, center-mounted exhaust with three outlets, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, premium audio with subwoofer, LED headlights, and dual-zone climate control.

The Type R isn’t perfect. It’s a bit high-strung, and the looks will turn heads for the wrong reasons at times. But there are few cars, especially at its price point, that are such a hoot to drive.

Kudos to Honda for making mild improvements without screwing up a good thing. We’ll see what the next-generation Type R brings – some rumors have been wild – but should you snag a 2020 like my tester or an essentially carryover 2021, you’ll be more than happy with this generation’s swan song.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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39 Comments on “2020 Honda Civic Type R Review – Changed But Unaffected...”


  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    pore over, unless youre turning the car into a liquid

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Delete wing, delete 20″ wheels, delete sunroof and delete dual zone climate

    Suddenly, both pricing and the car become more reasonable.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Agreed, especially regarding the wing and wheels. Sadly there is no ugly delete. Performance wise this thing sounds like hypercar compared my ’85 and ’93 Civic. Despite all the track goodies you almost never see these at track days. I’ve spotted 10X more old Civics with engine swaps and interiors removed zipping around.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Name me another car that performs (and handles) like this AND has real storage space (with a hatch, no less)…for $36,000. Base Mustang/Camaro/Challenger V-8, maybe (which you’d probably have to special order), but the Civic is far more practical.

      I can think of only one car this really competes with: Veloster N, which is a tad cheaper. Given the choice, I’d take the Veloster because it’s not hideous-looking. But either of these cars are considerably quicker than anything else in their class.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        A tad cheaper? Try like $12,000 cheaper in real world pricing. Maybe that is just a tad bit of money to you, I can’t tell anymore these days given how much money some people seem to be making. But that certainly isn’t chump change to me.

        As a 3x owner of new Honda products, I wanted a new Type-R but learned that you aren’t getting into that car for under 40k, or at least that was the case last year. So I bought the Veloster N instead for 28k. I couldn’t be happier. Excellent car that’s well built, fun to drive, and sounds great. The Type-R might be better in some measures but it’s not 12k better.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @Superdessucke:

          “Try like $12,000 cheaper in real world pricing. ”

          Tell me where I can get a Veloster N for $24,000 and it’ll be in my parking slot tomorrow.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          They went up substantially in price for 2021. I believe there was some.sort of performance pack when I looked that was a solid cash outlay. Like 27 to 32k.

      • 0 avatar
        Tim Healey

        It’s on a break, as you probably know, but the Golf R is in the competitive set. Though the last one was about $5K more.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Just get the Mustang GT. You’ll thank me in another life. Similar MPG too.

        I’ve had a hatchback Mustang GT, and the amount of times I’ve used the hatch, where tossing the item/items in the backseat or a trunk wouldn’t have worked was about once every 2 years. The rest of the time it was dead weight.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          How many times have you buckled a small kid into a car seat in a coupe? I might do it once in a while for a toy car, but for a DD: that’s a big nope.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Yes ideally we’d have a 4-door Mustang GT or something 4-door, based on the (actual) platform with GT parts. Clearly there’s a need if the Type R sells at all. Plus no need for crazy wing removal, plugging holes, repainting wheels, etc, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            If you have a small kid buy a big car. Wait for them go to college then get a normal fun car. i don’t remember TypeR being advertised as a family wagon. It has rear seats only to fold them down and put your gear in.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Good grief. The Type R is a Civic hatch. There’s no reason you can’t put people, big or small, in the back seat.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Doesn’t the Mustang have 4 doors?

            https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/mustang-mach-e-door-handles/

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “..ideally we’d have a 4-door Mustang GT or something 4-door…”

            More ideally, we’d have a 2 door Civic R….. :) I suppose the availability of both wouldn’t be a bad thing. But you can make a chassis more properly “driver’s car” focused, if you don’t have to concern yourself with 4 doory stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Ideally I would get a 2 door type R that looked like it was styled by and for adults. If only Honda had some other brand channel they could market and sell such a car through…one with a model nameplate that had a bunch of equity in that specific segment. Maybe one with some retro cred among a generation with some disposable income that was demonstrating that by paying obscene amounts for the rare 25 year old examples of such a hypothetical beast that did exist. If only.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @DenverMike:

          Agreed, the Mustang is a great car, but it’s not very practical as a daily driver if you have a family (which I do) or need to put larger stuff in the trunk (which I do). The Civic is a FAR more practical car.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        If C&D is to be believed a Camaro V6 1LE (available for under $32k) will run right with the TypeR around a racetrack.
        tinyurl.com/zzhh2e5u

        But yes, there is a large utility advantage to the Honda.

    • 0 avatar

      Also remove that silly Honda emblem from the grill.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      And add one Element body.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    But this is still a Honda. 20 years ago I wouldn’t think that I ever will think bad about Honda.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    For basically double the price of the base Civic, is it justified? Where does it go? Doesn’t the base model come with seats? Or Wheels? Or engine?

    How can we be so damn critical of fullsize pickup? Yet will we see 25% plus off sticker on Type Rs? Or any Type?

    Then there’s the very poor fuel economy. Yikes! Even the base model barely gets 30 MPG combined. Is that any better than 1987?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well…

      1) To be fair, if we’re going oranges-to-oranges, the base price of a Civic hatch is $22,000, so this isn’t anywhere near “basically double the price”.

      2) Most full size pickups I’ve seen on actual lots sell for a LOT more than $36,000, and the ones that do sell at that price – if you can find them – are strippo models. I’d say that $36,000 full size pickup is something of a unicorn compared the overwhelming majority of $50,000 vehicles that are so commonplace.

      3) This isn’t an economy car – it may be based on one, but this is the performance version, and this car inarguably performs. People interested in high mpg are not going to buy this car.

      Having said that, no way I’d buy this thing – it’s way too ugly and way too overdone. But for $36,000, this is a pretty damn strong value for a performance car.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Fair enough, but that’s still a $14K bump. Allowing $2K for the engine upgrade, and that’s generous, where’s the rest of it?

        A 4X4 crew cab adds another row of seating (including the seats) over base, and another powered axle. With an engine upgrade, mid trim at the actual out the door price, that’s still barely 30% more than base.

        The Type R simply upgrades parts hung on the same base hatchback.

        But there’s no excuse for 25 MPG no matter how it’s sliced. It’s not turning 10 seconds in the quarter mile.

      • 0 avatar
        Tim Healey

        That’s basically how I feel about this car, and I have tried to convey in three reviews of it for this site. It’s wonderful to drive. Perhaps the best four-door sports car with an MSRP of under $40K (in theory). But its looks aren’t pretty, and many find it downright ugly.

        The looks likely hold it back.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          It’d be cool if all cars were put under the same microscope as pickups. Just once.

          This one sounds like it doesn’t even get a transmission upgrade, thanks to forum complaints, and since you can’t see it (or see inside).

          I’m sure it’s awesome for its class, but there was no mention if it drags the inside front brake for turn-in rotation or back toe-out, or if it understeers and how much.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @DenverMike:

            You’re making an apples-to-oranges comparison. If we were making the same “why does this cost so much more than a base version” comparison in regards to trucks, then we’d be questioning why a F150 Raptor costs so much more than a base F150. The difference is performance – you pay more for it.

            “25 mpg is unreasonable”? That’s INCREDIBLE for a car that performs like this. I have an Audi A3 that’s considerably slower than the Civic Type R, and I’d LOVE to see 25 mpg out of it – I’m lucky to get 23 around town.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            With the Raptor, you can see exactly where your money goes, just vs normal Lariat level, including different body, wider frame, wheels, suspension, etc. Plus the Lariat is whole different animal than base trucks.

            Yes the Type R is amazing, for what it is, and true no Mistang is a true competitor, but the Type R still too much money and a poor value.

            I work too hard for my money, so I have to see substance and value before I hand it over. I don’t care what it is. Do ever go to the movies, see a movie that was just thrown together, little effort and the credits roll when your still waiting for the ending? Don’t you feel ripped off?

            That how I would feel with the Type R. It just needs more competition.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      It’s plenty cheaper, and is a plenty more engaging drivers’ car anywhere this side of an open Autobahn or a capital B Big racetrack, at least for near anyone shy of Nico Rosberg and the like, than an M5……

      Regardless, aside from the much different Miata, and the GR Yaris outside the US, there’s virtually nothing which is even designed to offer drivers this sort of uncompromised competence, at anywhere near its price. And, since most higher priced traditional “performance” offerings are stuck having to justify their costs to by far most of their potential buyers largely along non-“drivers” lines, very few of those come close either.

      Any way you turn it, it’s one heck of a drivers’ car. For not _that_much_ money. And that in and of itself, is rare these days. The Hyundai’s are getting there, though. If only they remain focused.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Honestly the price for performance doesn’t irk me, and I could live with the exterior, although id switch out the wheels to 18 inches for KC roads. But the interior is the part you live with every day , and it’s a no go.I mean the red cloth seats look like early aughts Sparco knock offs and the red trim pieces shouldn’t be in any OEM interior

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    When I finally bought a new car right before Christmas, the money was in hand, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger on the Type-R. Insurance wasn’t going to be too bad and I found one dealer that wasn’t playing crazy games with the price – it was MSRP and with some unwanted accessories that they weren’t going to budge on.
    Maybe it was the fact that the dealer, even with cash in hand, still wouldn’t allow test drives and I wasn’t willing to part with 40K on something that I couldn’t drive. Maybe it was the internet rumors (or truth) of the fragile manual transmission that makes the 1-2 shift fail at times. Maybe it was the fact that I’d have to leave $5,000 put aside for tire and wheel repairs/replacements and scan for every pothole and swerve like playing Atari’s Pole Position. But I think it was the fact that I needed to replace my current Honda soon and with the 2022 Civic coming out soon and the rumors of the 2022 or 23 Type-R being even better that kept me out from signing the papers.
    So I signed the papers on a new GLI, fully loaded, and as Tim writes, it’s 75% of the fun in something that you can do 10 over the speed limit and not have a Need for Speed chase break out behind you. So, around 2025, let’s see what that generation of Type-R looks like. Hopefully something a little less gaudy and with some stronger mechanicals.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    If I could get one that had 18″ wheels and looked exactly like a Civic Si hatch inside and out, I’d be drooling over it.

    As is, the ride is too hard, and I can’t imagine myself pulling up to, well, anything in it.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    I’ve had mine for a little over a year, and it’s polarizing to be sure, but more positives overall:
    – The price: Years of dealer gouging aside (I don’t know where that is now; I managed a great deal due to a distress situation), it’s nowhere near the most expensive thing in the Honda showroom; let’s put it that way. But for $36k+, you gotta drive it to see where most of that money went.
    – The looks: I wouldn’t have put on the bigass wing and fake CF on afterthefact 20yrs ago, but hey, and they don’t offer the wingless version in the US. 18″ wheels fit, so that’s an easy fix. And the awful fake grills in the corners are on every trim, so they’re worse on a LX with 16″ hubcaps.

    Face it, nothing new is gonna bring back the sensations of a 90s pre-nannies, big-glass, DOHC VTEC Honda (my NSX isn’t going anywhere) but also having been a past BMW owner, I think I’m happier here than where they’ve gone lately in the above two departments in particular.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    @Free Mike – See above. My Veloster cost about 28k. The Type-R is 40k in the real world given the scarcity and demand. Or it was about a year ago. Maybe this has changed.

    I also asked about leasing the Type-R. I got a quote and it added up to more than the MSRP of the Type-R over the 3 year term. So 0 residual?? I asked about that and they mumbled back like some Third World dictator addressing a peon constituent during a factory tour or something.

    Hyundai dealers will work with you by contrast. I had a pretty good experience purchasing that car.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I could have paid most of the P&I on a fairly nice small multi-unit rental property for the proposed lease cost of the Type-R. It’s a Honda Civic, not a BMW M5! But apparently some people are willing to pay it. One only needs to go to Bring a Trailer to see what car enthusiasts will do for low production models deemed desirable. That’s why you see 2012 CTS-V 6-speed wagons selling for over 70k.

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