With its screaming VTEC under the bonnet and a superbly playful chassis to exploit, the Honda Civic Type R FN2 is a fun, affordable hot hatch with an abundance of tuning options. We detail the best ways to improve the performance and styling of your hot Honda.
If you want to know more about Civic Type R FN2 tuning, then you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll break the car down into its component parts and take a closer look at where you can make improvements to really bring your Type R to life.
We’ll look at which parts need upgrading – and which ones don’t – to give you a better idea of where you should spend your money, and what your next upgrade should be.
In this guide we’ll focus mainly on the FN2 Type R model built between 2007 and 2011, but the third Type R (based on the eighth generation Civic) is quite similar under the skin to the earlier EP3 model despite the radically different styles.
The Honda Civic Type R has long been the go-to hot hatch for keen drivers, offering an intoxicating blend of rev-hungry, naturally-aspirated VTEC power mixed with a fantastically playful chassis that rewards skill behind the wheel. The FN2 is a perfect example of this, but like all mainstream production cars it does have its restrictions and limitations.
Thankfully, there’s an enormous tuning scene and an army of specialists to support Civic Type R FN2 tuning who are ready and willing to take performance to the next level. Whether that’s sticking to the FN2’s naturally aspirated roots and crafting a throttle-bodied, 9000rpm-screaming track weapon, or adding some boost to create a brutish forced-induction fast-road monster ready to go supercar-hunting, the FN2 Type R can do it and can do it well.
Here’s what you should be looking for when tuning your Civic Type R FN2.
Civic Type R FN2 Engine Tuning
The FN2 Type R’s 2.0-litre K20 engine kicks out a credible 198bhp and revs right round to 7800rpm without fuss. Those are impressive numbers for any hot hatch of the time but are particularly striking for a natural-aspirated 2.0-litre; the Ford Focus ST of the same era only produces 24bhp more from its 2.5-litre, turbocharged, five-cylinder engine!
But therein lies the FN2’s biggest problem when it comes to performance tuning; it’s already so well optimised from the factory that you won’t see the same huge gains other cars enjoy from simple bolt-on mods. That said, there is still a lot more to come from the K20 if your tickle it in the right places.
There are two distinct routes to tuning the FN2’s motor: stick to naturally aspirated tuning or do what Honda was eventually forced to do with the later FK2 Civic Type R and add some boost.
Die-hard fans prefer to stick with naturally aspirated tuning to retain the FN2’s rev-hungry character – it is the last of the screaming VTEC breed after all. Therefore, Civic Type R FN2 tuning typically begins with a remap for around £500 – which, unlike the previous EP3 Type R, can be installed via the OBD2 port on the FN2, making Type R tuning much easier.
Don’t expect massive peak power gains though; an extra 15bhp or so is all you’ll get from an otherwise stock FN2. But that’s not the point at this stage; the main benefits of the remap are more mid-range torque and a lower VTEC crossover point, getting you onto the more aggressive cam profile sooner for added urgency.
To make the most of the remap, performance hardware will be needed. The main restrictions here, as ever, are inlet and exhaust systems.
Naturally aspirated engines are particularly sensitive to exhaust tuning, and a cat-back system on its own does little more than improve the soundtrack on an FN2. Instead, for any meaningful gains you’ll be looking at a performance 4-2-1 exhaust manifold from the likes of Tegiwa, Japspeed, or Toda Racing.
Prices range from around £350 for the Japspeed item, to over £1500 for the Toda Racing kit . Add a sports cat (or de-cat for track cars where road legality isn’t an issue) and a cat-back system to complete the package. Japspeed and Cobra Sport offer 2.5in (63mm) systems for the FN2 – the former costing around £550, and the latter £850 – but many tuners prefer the larger 3in (70mm) bore of the Tegiwa cat-back exhaust, which is available for less than £500.
Next up you’ll need to look at getting air into the motor fast enough to match. Replacing the stock airbox with an induction kit is your next move, and there are plenty of options to suit your budget. An Injen cold air intake kit will set you back £350, but you can spend as much as £1000 on the Mugen kit. The Tegiwa carbon airbox (£450) is a popular choice, as is the HKS kit (£530).
With the basic principles of induction, exhaust, and remap covered, you can expect to see around 220-225bhp from the FN2. The next levels include adding a performance inlet for around £500 (taking power to approximately 230bhp), and finally adding a set of performance camshafts (£620) will give you enough to reach 240bhp.
Further NA Upgrades
And 240bhp is the sweet spot when it comes to Civic Type R FN2 tuning; it’s visceral, lively, and aggressive, and retains that naturally aspirated high-revving character – over 9000rpm is possible, but you’ll want to add a modified oil pump to prevent oil cavitation at those speeds.
Further tuning will see the use of a larger throttle body, or a set of individual throttle bodies, and when coupled with a K24 2.4-litre bottom end to create what is affectionately known as a Frankenstein engine (stuffed full of appropriate high-compression pistons, beefy con-rods, and so on) we’ve seen over 300bhp achieved from a naturally aspirated Civic Type R. But it does start to get very expensive, and there are other, much easier ways to unleash that sort of power from the Civic Type R FN2… By adding boost.
Forced Induction Tuning
One of the easiest ways to get big power from Civic Type R FN2 tuning is to add a supercharger kit .The K20 responds well to a bit of added boost; the extra low-down grunt works in harmony with the VTEC’s top end. Kits like those from TTS Performance use the Rotrex range of centrifugal superchargers, with kits starting at around £3600 for parts-only. For that you’d be looking at the entry-level, non-intercooled kit with a C30-94 blower running around 7psi of boost – but that’s still man enough to add around 100bhp at the wheels.
Upgrading to TTS’s Supersport kit sees a front-mount intercooler and suitable radiator upgraded added, alongside a high-flow Walbro fuel pump and 4-bar MAP sensor, but retains the C30-94 unit, now producing over 12psi of boost. That’s enough for 350bhp at the wheels – and you can push 400bhp with some clever use of water/methanol injection too.
Amazingly, there are even bigger blowers available too; TTS offers kits with C38 superchargers that will take the power all the way to 600bhp, but you’ll need a fully forged build if you want to run more than around 14psi of boost.
Of course, superchargers aren’t the only way to add boost; we’ve seen epic 500bhp-plus results from turbocharging the Civic Type R FN2, but these are custom one-off builds with price tags to match. It just goes to show that anything is possible if you really want it, though.
The stock FN2 Type R transmission will cope with most things thrown at it. The stock clutch won’t.
For anything more than mild mods, an upgraded clutch will be needed. A typical stage 2 kit costing under £500 will handle as much torque as you’re ever likely to see from naturally aspirated Civic Type R FN2 tuning, but supercharged and turbocharged cars might need to look to something with added bite.
The good news is it’s all available. Some tuners also recommend swapping to a lightweight 3.2kg chromoly flywheel at the same time; it only costs around £240 and perfectly fits the K20’s rev-happy nature.
One area you might need to look at, and almost certainly will for big-power boost applications, is the stock driveshafts. For mild increases they’re fine, but an enthusiastically driven Type Rs, even in NA tune, will chew through them. Upgrades for sub-250bhp cars are available for around £120 per side, but a pair of units capable of up to 500bhp will set you back around £600.
Civic Type R FN2 tuning is popular in the United States and given their love for drag racing and insane amounts of horsepower, some US tuners have even developed uprated gear sets for the stock FN2 tranny.
PPG offers a four-speed dog-engagement gearset that is rated to 1000bhp but losing the top two gears isn’t ideal for anything outside of a dedicated drag car.
A better bet would be a set of uprated helical gears from MFactory; at $2500 they’re reasonably priced and have been proven to work in 350-to-400bhp race cars. For the ultimate, money-no-object transmission upgrade, Quaife’s QKE8J five-speed sequential gearbox will make your FN2 Civic Type R feel like a touring car when shifting gears.
Almost unbelievably for a car of this nature, Honda fitted the FN2 Type R with a conventional open differential from the factory. One of the best ways to improve the overall driving experience, especially on a tuned FN2 Civic Type R, is to swap that for a limited-slip type differential.
Which type you choose will depend on your driving style and what you use the car for, but most owners prefer the torque-biasing types such as Quaife’s ATB, or the MFactory helical LSD. Prices range from around £600 to £750, plus fitting, but are a worthy upgrade and make a lot of sense when the gearbox is out for a clutch replacement/upgrade; adding one will transform the way your FN2 Type R handles.
Civic Type R Suspension Tuning
It was never intended to be a comfy motorway cruiser, so when it comes to chassis tuning the Civic Type R FN2 you might as well go for it and create a proper little buzzy B-road blaster. If you bought one as a comfy commuter, you bought the wrong car. But if you want to leave the supercar exotica for dead when the road gets twisty, here’s how.
Springs & Dampers
The first step is, as always, a set of lowering springs. These are cheap (sub-£200) and simultaneously improve both ride and handling and the overall aesthetics too. But for the most noticeable improvement, a set of adjustable coilovers will bring your FN2 Civic Type R to life. Tein, MeisterR, and BC Racing upgrades are all available for around £1000, and all do a good job of firming up the suspension for fast road and track use but without compromising quality or day-to-day useability. Just be weary of coilover kits that seem too cheap to be true; remember the adage ‘you get what you pay for’.
Working in conjunction with a set of coilovers, uprated anti-roll bars will help tune the FN2 Civic Type R to give even more grip. Many performance upgrades feature multiple settings to make the bar stiffer or softer, so you can play around and find the perfect setup for you.
One more area of the suspension worth looking at is the bushes. Most of the stock rubber bushes will be worn out by now, so replacing them with a firmer polyurethane upgrade makes a lot of sense; not only do you get a genuine performance benefit of the stiffer bush and less unwanted flex in the suspension system, but they’ll never need replacing again in the future.
A full bush kit will cost around £350, but individual areas can be upgraded at a time, with prices ranging from £60 for front wishbone bushes to £140 for rear beam bushes.
Like all hot hatches, getting the suspension geometry correct is key to fantastic handling. Perhaps one of the best upgrades when it comes to Civic Type R FN2 tuning is to dial-in some fast-road settings.
Again, this is all personal preference, but a starting with around 1-deg of negative camber both front and rear, with 1mm toe-in at the front and 2mm toe-out at the rear is a good base to build from. A set of camber bolts from Eibach (£20) will allow you to dial in the front, while at the rear you’ll need to add their camber shim plates (£17) to get the required settings.
Civic Type R FN2 Brake Tuning
The FN2’s brakes are the same as those found on the earlier EP3 version; they work well biting down on the factory 300mm discs, and even look presentable with the raised ‘Type R’ lettering cast into the calliper. Therefore, the first upgrade for most owners is a simple case of fitting some performance pads and discs from the likes of EBC.
But for those who use their Type R on track, or just want some more pose factor for the show ground, binning the single-piston sliders in favour of some big sexy six-pots is the way to go. Dynodaze has seen good results with the YellowSpeed big brake kit, comprising a 330mm disc and six-pot calliper, available for around £1500.
Other options from K-Sport, CompBrake, and Tarox are also available, depending on your budget and requirements.
Performance Wheels & Tyres
The stock wheels and tyres are heavy – weighing 22kg each – and there are plenty of aftermarket wheels to choose from. So, ditching the originals in place of some lightweight performance alloys will not only allow you to improve the looks of your FN2 Civic Type R, but you’ll also gain a genuine performance edge too.
The stock rims are 7.5in wide with an ET55 offset for both 18in and 19in versions but increasing width to 8.0in means you can get a fatter tyre to help put all that power to the tarmac. The stock ET55 does mean the wheels tuck in the arches a tad too much; ET40 fills the arches much better and still avoids clearance issues, even on an 8.0in rim.
As for tyres, fit the best you can afford. Fit budget-spec ditch-finders at your peril.
The FN2 comes well spec’d as standard. It does everything you want it to, so any upgrades in here will be purely personal choice; dress it all up in sexy carbon fibre, add some luxurious diamond-stitched retrim upholstery, and give everything a warm bathing glow of aftermarket lighting upgrades? Or just rip it all out in the name of saving weight before bolting in a roll cage and pair of bucket seats?
The choice is yours. Just don’t fit a big stereo – nobody wants to listen to your The Corrs Greatest Hits album over a screaming K20!
The eighth-generation Civic is one of the most recognisable cars ever designed; the angular styling does a good job of getting noticed on all its own, without the need for huge body kits and other add-ons. But, of course, if you do want to personalise your FN2 Type R then upgrades like a Delta Styling rear wing and Mugen-inspired splitters, rear valance, fog vents, and grilles add some extra aggression without being too OTT.