2023 FL5 Honda Civic Type R is the greatest magic trick Honda has pulled
First things first, the 2023 FL5 Honda Civic Type R is an extremely capable car. For those who know when you watch the Nurburgring lap record run, you will see how incredible the corner exit traction is in this car. Or how well the rear axle setup complements the front diffs traction. It seems to be running on a really serious setup, making it a total beast at 3rd and 4th gear corner exit accelerations. It makes the car rotate out with ease while maintaining maximum forward traction. It could possibly be the epitome of a front wheel drive chassis setup.
Having said that, the FL5 Civic Type R, launched in our local market on Wednesday , retails at RM399,000. It is a good car no doubt, but is it worth that much? Could it be that Honda is trying pull off the greatest trick of all time?
What's new on the current Type R compared to the outgoing model?
The engine puts out 9bhp more and 20Nm more now, 0-100kph time is reduced by 0.3 seconds, and the top speed is identical at 272kph. The tyres are down one inch to 19 instead of the outgoing FK8’s 20 inches, but they are much wider now at 265mm (versus 245mm previously). Which gives an overall diameter of 642mm and an increased sidewall height of 80mm ( FK8 overall diameter is 655mm / and
sidewall height is 74mm). It is slightly heavier than the outgoing model.
It may not seem much but its a big giveaway of how this car has been setup. Downsizing the tyres translate to the amount of reworking the dampers and chassis work that has gone into this car. The rest of the package includes a helical limited slip differential, Brembo brakes, revised cooling system (an alleged issue of the outgoing Type R, especially at Sepang), and a revised, cleaner aero package.
The effect of all this is an amazing laptime on the Nurburgring Nordschleife of 7.44.88 seconds. That’s faster than the CLK45S 4MATIC+ (7 min 45 seconds) the 718 Cayman S (7 min 46 seconds).
Awesome! Its the best performance car then?
This car is a technical tour de force no doubt, and we reckon there’s been some really good engineering that has gone into its chassis. The fastest front wheel drive on the Nurburgring title is awesome, but how relevant is it to your daily driving and ownership experience?
For all its glory, the Nurburgring is ONE CIRCUIT and ONLY 20.8km in length. The world is a much bigger place with loads of driving roads where a performance based vehicle can and should be enjoyed. We have our experience on the ACTUAL Nurburgring Nordschleife and we have been documenting the best driving roads in Malaysia for the past decade.
Each drive route is at least 20km – 50km in length and there are almost 100 documented by us in Peninsular Malaysia alone. There’s no ONE CAR that fits all of these roads. So a car with a wider spread of abilities will make more sense to get the most out of your purchase.
Every tenth of a second gets exponentially more expensive.
Like in motorsports, the final few tenths get super expensive and as the times fall more, the cost gets exponentially more crazy. You can see with the selection 265 tyres, retuned plumbing of the engine and the aero package, every fine tune cost exponentially more. And the Nurburgring is not exactly a cheap place to develop at.
For the Type R’s price range you can easily get, with warranty and in some case with maintenance packages, cars like the soon to be launched Volkswagen Golf R, the BMW M340i xDrive, and the A35 AMG.
Start shopping in the pre-loved, recon market side for performance purchases and the floodgates truly open. Here’s a list of performance orientated cars you can actually buy for the less than the cost of buying a brand new Civic Type R. And these are cars that can be financed for 9 years.
Granted the ownership cost can be vastly different from the Type R, which is a completely different debate. But the fact of the matter is, the achievement this Type R has made is something truly incredible. However the pursuit of that perfection has lead to the frankly eye popping price tag.
Honda's Power of Dreams
Which is where we come to what could potentially be Honda’s branding plan. The current Type R is a costlier car relative to its predecessor in every market around the world. It is Honda’s ‘halo car’. Now the entry level Civic would seem like an absolute bargain for the average customer. Because their RM140k Japanese sedan is strikingly similar to an RM400,000 “super” car.
Just like how the absurdly expensive rear brake pads of the previous generation Honda Civic 1.5 TC, which you can read about here, it would be relatively easy to get the public to accept a price hike in the next gen Civic range with the shock and awe of the current halo product. Because compared to that now the entry level car would seem like a bargain. Is this the strategy that Honda is rolling out?
As a feat, the Honda Civic Type R is incredible. What it could do on the Nurburgring is nothing short of remarkable. For the hardcore Type R and Honda fanatics, this is the ultimate collectors item. It is a purpose built halo to help elevate the brand presence of the Civic and Honda. But its greatest achievement is also its biggest drawback. It is a single purpose car. Would you opt for the Honda Civic Type R or opt for something with a wider set of abilities?