Almost 2 decades after the Acura Integra Type R wowed US enthusiasts, Honda finally brought the Civic Type R over. It immediately raised the bar over previous high points like the Civic Mugen Si and Mazdaspeed 3. And it’s arguably what inspired Hyundai to produce the Veloster N. Now, just like Hyundai’s updating the Veloster N, the Honda Civic Type R is getting some minor tweaks. But it may soon receive even more significant ones—like a hybrid powertrain.
What’s new for the 2020 Honda Civic Type R?
In addition to the lightweight 2021 limited edition, the ‘base’ Honda Civic Type R received a few updates for 2020. Arguably the most pertinent for hot hatch enthusiasts relate to cooling, Motor Trend reports.
Pre-2020 CTRs were known to overheat and pull power if driven hard over an extended period. Specifically, repeated laps on a track. To attempt to rectify this, Honda enlarged the grille and gave the car a new radiator. Engineers claim, Road & Track reports, that reduces engine temperature by 18° Fahrenheit in “high-demand situations.” Though as of this writing, that remains unverified.
The new grille’s design means less downforce, Car and Driver reports. So, to restore it, the 2020 Civic Type R has a new front spoiler. Otherwise, except for a few minor body-colored trim pieces, externally, the hot hatch remains unchanged.
The suspension, brakes, and interior, though, have been upgraded. The brake calipers are lighter, and redesigned for better cooling. The pads are also new, and the brake pedal has shorter travel. The 2020 Civic Type R’s suspension has stiffer bushings and faster-reacting adaptive dampers. Inside, the steering wheel and shifter boot are now covered in Alcantara. Engineers even tweaked the shifter itself to make it more fun to use.
Finally, the 2020 Honda Civic Type R gets a few more day-to-day usability features. The hot hatch gets all the features of Honda’s ADAS suite, Roadshow reports. This includes adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist. The infotainment screen isn’t any larger, but it does gain a performance data logger.
What’s it like to drive?
Honda didn’t give the Civic Type R more power for 2020. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder still makes 306 hp and 295 lb-ft. The limited-slip differential also carries over. However, that’s not a bad thing. And the new updates might be subtle, but they are appreciable.
The new dampers, MT reports, make the CTR ride even better than before, especially in Comfort Mode. And yet, in their sportier settings, the hot hatch is sharper than even the previous model. Autoweek and Car and Driver report the Civic Type R didn’t necessarily need a significant brake update. However, the new hardware is firmer, but still easy to modulate.
And Roadshow had nothing but praise for the steering feel and shifter. Plus, for those who are just starting out, the CTR retains its rev-matching system. But, not only can it be turned off, it defers to the driver when they press the accelerator.
There are only a few niggles. Firstly, the CTR’s new exhaust sound synthesizer doesn’t do it any favors, especially outside of Comfort Mode. Luckily, suspension and exhaust settings are independent of each other. Secondly, although the Alcantara is suitably premium-feeling, Motor1 reports it eventually absorbs the oil from the driver’s hands.
Overall, though, the tweaks make the 2020 Civic Type R more than worth its $695 upcharge over the 2019 model. It’s likely, though, that this is the last time Honda will update the current-gen CTR. Because it appears the next-gen model will be going hybrid.
2022 Honda Civic Type R hybrid rumors and spy shots
This news comes courtesy of The Drive and Car and Driver. Spy photographers in Germany snapped photos of what appears to be the camouflaged 11th-gen Honda Civic. And the prototype bears the Type R’s large rear wing and sportier wheels and tires.
Said prototype has new headlights and taillights, as well as a new interior with a large center screen. But there may be more changes, The Drive reports, under the skin. Honda engineer Kohei Hitomi had previously mused on giving the Type R more performance via electrification. Honda has previously offered a Civic hybrid, and recently released a CR-V hybrid.
However, as of this writing, the Japanese automaker hasn’t commented on either the spy shots or the hybrid rumors. Regardless, if Honda keeps the spirit of the Civic Type R alive, enthusiasts should have nothing to worry about.
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