I’ve been gushing over the FL5 Civic Type-R like Buddy the freaking Elf. “I’m in love, I’m in love, & I don’t care who knows it.” Yeah – the Civic Type-R is that good. All things considered, it might actually be the best. Here we go: A few years ago… 

We had an FK8 Type-R that we built-up for the magazine…

We drove it across the country every which way, and put it in various track events from road courses to half-mile drags. That last generation FK8 Type-R was an absolutely stunning, razor sharp, fun car. Fast, forgiving, efficient, versatile, livable, etc. But as our friend, Brian Tyson from JST Performance said about the new FL5 Type-R…

“Everything got like 10% better, and it all adds up.”

For reference – he’s owned, tuned, & tracked both the FK8 and the new FL5 Type-R.

Civic Type-R worth it

Project Mu

And that’s the beauty of the Civic Type-R…

It’s always getting 10% better. The Type-R is a lineage… an exercise of brilliant minds collaborating & fine-tuning to perfection. It’s a lot like the Porsche 911. Building on what you’ve built. And… 

FL5 CTR

We all benefit from cars like the Civic Type-R… 

Even if you’re a quiet librarian who drives a CR-V to work, you too benefit from passionate enthusiast-engineers being given the leash to push boundaries in their fields. Read a book about it lol. Performance drives innovation, & keeps the blood pumping. It wakes-up the entire brand. And when it comes down to it, car companies that can build a Type-R, also build a better CR-V. 

ACT clutch

In the modern world of ‘mobility’… 

Do you think the average vehicle is on a trajectory to get more exciting? FFS no! The best you can hope for is a little more efficiency (woohoo), tax incentives, or that they manage to squeeze-in another cupholder or phone charger to these forgettable creampuff crossovers. Are we supposed to get excited about a warning on the dash that reminds us to check the backseat for our kids?! That’s not innovation… it’s de-evolution. The point is: These days, we have to stand up & fight for our thrills. We have to prioritize excitement, or else convenience will win-over our lives. 

Civic Type-R side

All things considered, The Civic Type-R is one of the best…

At 315 stock horsepower, it’s very quick… deceivingly quick. And it gets significantly quicker & more fun with a few easy performance mods. In other words, the CTR is begging for more! And just as important as being quick… the Civic Type-R is engaging. It’s not overly electronically numb in any way. Handling-wise, the Type-R is razor sharp. It’s light, agile, predictable, & instinctual. The steering is insanely good. And the shifting is incredibly crisp & deliberate. The way the CTR comes on boost & pulls you (like a dog on a leash) to the next gear… it feels like a damn rotary racecar. The stock brakes will nearly pull the air out of your lungs. In a nutshell… 

Civic Type-R front

Import Alliance car show

The Type-R is an experience 

A true sports car. It elevates the moment. Slows it down, while speeding it up. Have they ever called your ticket-number for the grand prize in big raffle? That’s what the Type-R does to your heart. And that’s where it stays.  

Civic Type-R exhaust

Type-R drawbacks…

You think you’d have to make some concessions for that kind of experience… as you often do with sports cars like the 911, Supra, Miata etc. Meaning – usually that kind of driving connection only comes in impractical packages. But not so with the Civic Type-R. In the CTR, there’s enough room behind the red front seats for children. And there’s enough cargo space to keep the car in regular/daily rotation. I got my mountain bike in the back of this thing with room to spare. Yet with all that usable space & versatility… you don’t feel any of it behind you. Everything you feel in the Type-R is lean… it’s in the steering wheel, in the shifter, and front of you. 

Civic Type-R interior

euro cars

The only compromise to the CTR is front-wheel-drive…

But the nature of performance is always full of compromises… of give-&-takes. Don’t let the keyboard nay-sayers think for you on this one. Honda has always excelled by doing more with less. It’s their winning formula. And performance-oriented Hondas have always been more than their stats… AKA more than the sum of their parts. That’s because of brilliant engineering. And today’s FL5 Type-R is the pinnacle of front-wheel-drive engineering. 

It’s a trade-off. The give-&-take is: Honda went front-wheel-drive in order to achieve a lighter, more simplistic chassis with more performance on the endurance-end of the spectrum. That’s the strategy. All-wheel-drive has its traction benefits no doubt. But it’s heavier, and robs power at higher speeds. So yes, the Civic Type-R loses traction on a launch or a 0-60 sprint. And yeah, it’s kind of a bummer to spin through 1st-gear in this ($45,000) price bracket. But the trade-off is… 

Civic Type-R wing

The Civic Type-R an absolute samurai sword once it’s rolling… 

That’s what enables the CTR to make small slashes at better-spec’d sports cars. And they add up. Eventually the Type-R will find their weak link… and expose it. And that’s how a front-wheel-drive Civic will break that 500hp ($70,000) Dark Horse that sat in my driveway next to it.

Civic Type-R or

Civic Type-R rear

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