Among hot hatches, the 2020 Honda Civic Type R stands particularly high. It’s the sportiest and most powerful Civic and heir to the iconic ‘Type R’ nameplate. But while that makes for an exhilarating driving experience, it also requires dealing with the Civic Type R’s drawbacks.
In the 2020 Honda Civic Type R, ‘Comfort Mode’ is relative
Looking at the 2020 Honda Civic Type R, you’d be forgiven for thinking it has a harsh and unyielding ride. It rides on 20” wheels wrapped in 245/30ZR-20 Continental SportContact 6 tires, Car and Driver reports. Those tires’ sidewalls aren’t particularly thick.
However, the Type R’s sport-tuned suspension has adaptive dampers, which for 2020 have been updated, Motor Trend reports. The suspension itself has also been tweaked, with stiffer bushings, lower-friction ball joints, and geometry changes.
The car defaults to Sport Mode when you turn it on. But with a dash-mounted switch, you can swap to +R or Comfort Mode. Each mode modifies the damper stiffness, the throttle response, and the steering settings. And for 2020, Sport and +R activate the sound synthesizer, which sends simulated exhaust noise through the speakers, Roadshow explains.
To be fair, the 2020 Honda Civic Type R rides far better than a car with its tires and large wheels should. Even in Sport Mode, the hot hatch was decidedly firm, but still somewhat compliant. It’s even more compliant in Comfort Mode, while still retaining agile and fun handling. Plus, with a calmer throttle and without the synthetic exhaust noise, it’s a decent but sporty commuter.
However, the driving mode switch only goes so far. There are some sporty aspects of the Type R which can’t be fully turned off. Namely, the tires, wheels, and a chassis and suspension set-up that’s stiffer than the base Civic. Even in Comfort Mode, if you drive over a railroad crossing or a potholed road, coffee will slosh out of your covered cup. And the performance tires make noticeable noise at highway speeds.
The Civic Type R is practical…to a point
Because it’s a hot hatch, the Honda Civic Type R is more practical than, say, a Miata or a Ford Mustang. It has a usable back seat, 4 doors, and a decently-sized trunk. As you can see in the photo above, I fit 4 folding chairs in the trunk with room to spare. And Car and Driver reports it has more cargo space than the Volkswagen Golf R.
The use of space goes further than that, though. The Honda Civic Type R’s armrest can slide forwards and backward, as can the cupholders. Plus, there’s a built-in accommodation for taller cups. And the center console has two tiers of storage areas for your phones, keys, and other small objects.
But given its sporty intentions, living with the Civic Type R means dealing with a few limitations. For one, there are only 2 back seats—instead of the middle seat, there are cupholders. And while the well-bolstered front seats are more comfortable than they look, older individuals can have trouble getting in and out of them. Plus, the additional bolstering makes reaching into your pockets more difficult.
Also, there’s that rear wing. It’s actually less of a problem than the roll bar installed in my NB Miata. However, it and the rear wiper do intrude somewhat on rear visibility.
Finally, there’s the fuel efficiency. The 2020 Honda Civic Type R has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, rated at 306 hp and 295 lb-ft. The EPA rates it at 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. Over 164 miles of mixed driving, the digital display reported I was achieving 26.6 mpg. But when I filled up, the real fuel efficiency rating was 23.3 mpg.
There are a few signs of its budget origins
For 2020, the Honda Civic Type R is only available in one trim, starting at $36,995. And as the range-topping Civic, it comes with standard features like built-in navigation, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a performance app. It also comes standard with Honda’s ADAS suite, which includes lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking.
The Type R also has some interior upgrades besides those sporty red seats. Alcantara and suede are sprinkled throughout the cabin, including on the steering wheel. And while the carbon-fiber trim isn’t real, it fits with the hot hatch’s overall design. And while some of the plastics aren’t exactly soft-touch, they feel solid, and not cheap in any way.
That being said, it is based on a Civic hatchback, which starts at $21,750. As a result, besides the somewhat-hard plastics, its 7” touchscreen is smaller than the ones in the Veloster N and Volkswagen GTI. The infotainment itself is also based on Honda’s older system, Road & Track reports. Also, not only does Car and Driver report that the slightly more expensive Golf R has a more luxurious interior, but it also has standard blind-spot monitoring. Plus, those sport seats can’t accommodate heating or ventilating functions.
But are these deal-breakers? No, not if you understand the 2020 Honda Civic Type R’s intent. This is a more daily-drivable Mini Cooper JCW GP. It’s a FWD hot hatch that can keep up or overtake AWD ones like the Ford Focus RS, MT reports. But if you’re after something a bit more relaxed, there’s always the Civic Si or Accord 2.0T.
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