Honda’s track-ready Civic Type R hatchback got a light refresh for 2020. Now in its fourth model year in the U.S., the Type R saw performance enhancements and the much needed addition of some standard safety features.
A lot of what we like about the Type R stays the same this time around — including the 306-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual-only transmission and general track capabilities. Even up against all-wheel-drive sport compact competitors such as the Subaru WRX STI and Volkswagen Golf R, the front-wheel-drive Type R pulls its own weight. Many of the 2020 changes enhance track and city driving performance … but one might leave your ears ringing.
In the market for a hot hatch and want to know everything about the Type R? Check out Joe Bruzek’s full review via the related link above. For the key takeaways, read on for the pros and cons of the 2020 Honda Civic Type R.
1. Safety Now Included
Previous models of the Civic Type R did not include the Honda Sensing suite of safety tech that was available on non-performance oriented Civics. For 2020, features like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking are standard. This makes the Type R much more comfortable for everyday highway driving. Reviewer Bruzek said the safety features aren’t just present, they actually work quite well: Unlike how similar systems work in many vehicles, the lane keep assist helps you stay within lane lines and also centers you in your lane. The adaptive cruise control works all the way down to a stop, too.
2. Brembo Brakes
The single-piece brakes are replaced by two-piece brake rotors from Brembo. The floating design (along with new brake pads) improves high-speed braking performance and helps heat dissipate. It also reduces the amount of force it takes to engage the brakes.
3. Refined Suspension Improves Drive
The suspension also gets a performance upgrade. Up front, a new lower ball reduces friction, and new bushings in the rear stiffen the suspension and allow for improved cornering. Also updated are the adaptive shock absorbers that react faster and more accurately than in previous models. Honda says this combination is supposed to improve steering accuracy at turn-in, provide more mid-corner stability and give more traction as you power out of corners.
4. Cooling Grille
The Type R gets minor exterior styling changes for 2020. The most notable are the redesigned front bumpers and larger grille. According to Honda, this larger opening made for more cooling and reduced coolant temperatures in its testing. If you’re more concerned with how it looks, the smooth texture feels more streamlined and less cheap than the previous honeycomb design.
5. Upgraded Interior Quality
Like the outside, the interior doesn’t see much change this model year. The steering wheel is covered in Alcantara synthetic suede instead of leather. The shift knob gets the same material, and its new shape makes it feel more weighted.
1. Odd Engine Sounds
The big downside of the latest Type R is the addition of augmented engine sounds. The Type R drives quite naturally for a car that is controlled by electronic systems and has a turbocharged engine under the hood — yet Honda felt the need to pump artificial engine noise through the audio system. It’s called Active Sound Control, which is misleading because you don’t actually have much control over it and you can’t turn it off. The sounds are tied to the driving mode: least aggressive in Comfort mode, louder in Sport and borderline intrusive in Plus R.
2. No Custom Drive Modes
An addition to the previous point is that the Type R does not have an “individual,” custom drive mode; you can only choose one of the three presets. In the Golf R, for example, you can customize the aggressiveness and tweak the chassis and drivetrain to your liking, but the Civic Type R has always lacked that level of individual control. That doesn’t change here.
3. Only Seats Four
Buyer beware: The Civic Type R is a four-seater. In the back where there is typically a third middle seat, you instead get a small console complete with cupholders — useful for the two sitting in the backseat, but not so great if you frequently need to tote around more than three passengers.
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