2020 Honda Civic Type R brings upgrades, track-focused flagship

The Honda Civic Type R is the most fun-to-drive front-wheel-drive car on the market. It’s so fun, in fact, we awarded it the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018 title. For 2020, Honda says it’s even better.

The automaker is introducing an updated Civic Type R for 2020, plus a new track-focused flagship called the Civic Type R Limited Edition. The latter will arrive as a 2021 model and in limited numbers, but more on this later.

The regular 2020 Civic Type R was first shown in January at the Tokyo Auto Salon and subsequently at the Chicago Auto Show earlier this month, and on Wednesday Honda finally released all the juicy details.

2020 Honda Civic Type R

2020 Honda Civic Type R

The look inside and out is slightly revised, but Honda also gave the Civic Type R performance upgrades that we hope will improve an already great track car. Those include revised front suspension settings to reduce friction and improve steering feel, new dampers for a more comfortable ride, and stiffer bushings that Honda says will improve grip.

New two-piece rotors and different brake pads are meant to improve high-speed braking and reduce fade, while the standard 6-speed manual transmission has shorter throws between gears and a new shift knob. A larger front grille also improves engine cooling but doesn’t increase output of the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 from the previous 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

Honda promises more refinement and safety, too. The cabin gets a new Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, a new shift knob, and Active Sound Control that changes the sound inside based on the Comfort, Sport, and +R modes. The Honda Sensing group of active safety features also becomes standard throughout the Civic lineup. It includes forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, automatic high beams, and road departure mitigation that steers the car back into its lane if it’s about to leave the road.

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The final change is the addition of a performance data recorder—a first for a Honda. Called the Honda LogR, the feature combines key onboard sensors with a smartphone app that can store info to be analyzed when away from the vehicle.

There are three main functions. One is a Performance Monitor that displays important metrics like oil temps and pressure, gear position, and g-forces on the infotainment screen. A Log Mode helps hone a driver’s skills on the track through GPS monitoring and the use of a color-coded trace of each lap. The third function is Auto Score which monitors the driver’s behavior over time by tracking acceleration, braking and steering inputs, and generating a score for each.

While all of the changes are impressive, we’ve saved the best for last. Honda is also introducing a Civic Type R Limited Edition, of which just 600 examples will be offered in the United States, each finished in an exclusive yellow paint scheme and with a unique numbered plaque. The cars will also come with a black finish for the roof, side mirror caps, and hood vent surround to further distinguish them from the standard model.

2021 Civic Type R Limited Edition

2021 Civic Type R Limited Edition

Performance upgrades to sharpen the track capabilities include 18-inch BBS wheels that help shed 18 pounds in unsprung mass, deleted content in the cabin (sound deadening material, tonneau cover, etc.) to further reduce weight by 28 pounds, specially tuned dampers, and recalibrated steering.

The 2020 Civic Type R will reach dealers in the spring with a starting price of $37,950. That’s slightly higher than the 2019 model’s $37,255 base sticker. The 2021 Civic Type R Limited Edition will arrive late this year. Pricing for this model will be announced closer to the market launch.

All Civic Type Rs are sourced from a plant in the United Kingdom that is home to Civic hatchback production. The plant is scheduled to be closed in 2021, with future Civic hatchbacks bound for North America to be built locally. It means any future Type R will likely also be built on local soil.


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