Price reductions on selected cars, from £250 - £1000 off

skip to main contentskip to footer
FL5 Civic

Honda Civic Type R (FL5) review

Well done, Honda. Not only has it launched the new FL5-generation Civic Type R with predictable (but still impressive) performance improvements over its predecessor, it’s also really gone to town on addressing the styling. Where the old, technically brilliant FK8 car was highly divisive (read: offensive) in the design department, this new FL5 is considerably easier on the eye. This looks like the perfect hot hatch on paper and in the metal. But what about on the Tarmac?

WATCH: Honda Civic Type R (FL5) Video Review


FL5 Civic rear

We adored the FK8 Civic Type R, but could never quite get around its design. The aggressive styling was just about acceptable, but it was the fake plastic vents and needless angles that provided the most disappointment. From behind the wheel, where this terrific car never underachieved, those features were of little concern. But catch a reflection in a shop window and you might find yourself grimacing at the image you’re projecting. 

The FL5, however, addresses those issues and then some. Not only is it much subtler in appearance (relatively speaking, because it still has a big rear wing), it also only features grilles and angles that actually do something. Intakes are there to draw cool air over things like the radiators and brakes, while angles are there to move air onto downforce-generating parts. The FL5 Civic Type R is functional – and handily, that serves to create a genuinely nice form.

The FL5 Civic Type R is functional – and handily, that serves to create a genuinely nice form.

What's it like to drive?

FL5 Civic track

If you want but can’t afford a red-blooded GT Porsche model, the FL5 Honda Civic Type R might just be the best car out there for you. With 329hp and 420Nm of torque from the car’s uprated 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, it’s rapid under power, pulling from low revs and powering all the way towards the rev counter’s redline. It even sounds more exciting in this new car, with a sweeter tone projected into the interior, which adds to the thrills on offer.

Then there’s the six-speed manual gearbox. It’s fundamentally the same gearbox that was used in the old FK8, but in the FL5, a few tweaks – including the counterweighting and resistance of the gear linkages – make it smoother and, well, lovelier to use. It’s an absolute joy to slice through the gears no matter the speed, and the experience is made better still by a clutch pedal that’s perfectly weighted and brimming with feel. Manual gearbox fans will be in heaven.

Our British test in the FL5 was on a rainy day (what else would January bring?), so testing the new car’s suspension and handling was limited by the conditions. But it’s clear the FL5 is slightly firmer than its predecessor, giving it sharper handling and a more responsive front end. This does seem to have slightly reduced the suppleness of the car’s Comfort mode (you can now stiffen or soften the suspension independently from the engine thanks to a new Individual mode), but this is still a brilliantly forgiving car over British road surfaces.

It's also exceptionally capable at carry speed through bends, with a lovely balance that gives you confidence to press on and explore the FL5’s talents further. Our test included some laps on track, and the Type R felt right at home – not least because its brakes, now cooled more effectively, completely stand up to the punishment. If you do track days, the FL5 should be on your shortlist.

If you want but can’t afford a red-blooded GT Porsche model, the FL5 Honda Civic Type R might just be the best car out there for you.


FL5 Civic interior

Another big step forward for the FL5 is the interior. The FK8’s cabin was always great because of its driver-centric setup and low, supportive sports seats, but the infotainment system was a bit fiddly and the buttons looked a bit dated. The new Civic’s interior is a big step forward, as is the infotainment system which comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. It works as well as it looks, giving you more time to focus on what matters here: driving the thing.

That being said, there's lots of space in the back for passengers, because the FL5 platform is pretty long. Our six-foot-five video director was happily sat in the back during our test, even when yours truly (at, ahem, just shy of six-foot) had his driver’s seat set for a leggy body. If you want to take your mates or the family along for a spirited ride, there’s nothing stopping them from climbing aboard.


Civic boot

The lengthy FL5 body lends itself to having a long boot too, and while the vertical space is limited by the Civic’s swoopy rear roofline, there’s plenty of room for suitcases to lay horizontally. Thanks to the cushioned ride of Comfort mode, loading the car up shouldn’t make the ride turn brittle either.

Running costs and reliability

Work it hard, and the FL5 Civic Type R’s 2.0-litre turbocharged engine will drink fuel to its heart’s content. But drive more sensibly, and this high-performance engine has a surprisingly frugal side. On a steady cruise, expect to see economy in the high thirties (miles per gallon), while average mpg is typically around 32-33. That’s pretty good for such a powerful machine.

As for reliability, the FL5 is too new to comment on (at the time of writing). But rest assured that Hondas are typically renowned for their reliability – certainly the previous generation hot Civic, the FK8, has proved to be a dependable offering in the super-hatch realm. Given the technical similarities of the FL5, we’d expect more of the same with this car. 

At £46,995, this isn't a cheap hatchback – but neither is it a cheap product. When we make comparisons with special Porsche models like the Cayman GT4, we mean it. The FL5 Civic Type R feels like a junior take on that driving enthusiast breed, and while it’s not quite as exotic as those German machines, it’s no less impressive.

When we make comparisons with special Porsche models like the Cayman GT4, we mean it.

What we love

FL5 Civic front

This is a hatchback that can carry the family about in Comfort mode, or demolish more powerful cars on track. As such, it’s easily one of the most broadly capable hatchbacks ever made.

Still looking for the one?

Use our comparison tool to find the car for you

Perfect for

Driving enthusiasts

Track day drivers

Small families



If it’s super-hatchback performance you’re after with a strong dose of analogue driving thrills, the FL5 Civic Type R is as good as it gets.

This review was