2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition first drive review: A sharper track weapon

Honda has an ulterior motive with the Civic Type R Limited Edition. That’s not to say there isn’t a market for a lighter, sharper, limited run Civic Type R, obviously. But Honda has a special goal for this car that doesn’t really involve you, dear customer.

We do a very fast backup. After the Type R launched in 2017, Honda used it to set a 7-minute 43.8-second lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, making this Civic the fastest front-wheel drive series car to race the infamous German course. But then the Renault Megane RS Trophy-R arrived and broke the Type R record, beating the Civic by a full four seconds. When the Type R Limited Edition debuted earlier this year, a Honda executive told me it was born from the desire to claim that FWD hot ride title. And following the type R LE recent record lap at the Suzuka circuit in Japan – where it beat the Megane Trophy-R, by the way – Honda is pretty confident that the ‘Ring crown will soon belong to the Civic again.

To waste time during laps, Honda opted to reduce weight rather than increase power. The 2.0-liter I4 turbo picks up from the base Type R unchanged, producing 306 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. The 2021 LE six-speed manual transmission, limited slip differential, suspension hardware and Brembo front brakes are also identical to those of the 2020 Type R.

Instead, Honda cut 50 pounds off the US-spec Civic Type R by doing away with the rear wiper, removing the cargo cover, fitting lighter BBS wheels, and removing a whole bunch of sound-deadening material – 28 pounds, in fact. That “US-specific” qualification is important, as limited edition models sold in other markets lose an additional 30 pounds thanks to the removal of the audio system and air conditioning.

Now, before you complain that the US isn’t getting the full limited edition lightweight experience, here’s another history lesson. When Honda launched the track-ready S2000 CR in 2007, radio and air conditioning were optional, but only a small percentage of Americans ordered the CR this way. So unless you’re going to use your own CTRLE to set a lap record, which you aren’t, maybe just spin a few tunes and enjoy the cool breeze of your AC. Always Americans to think they want a stripped car until they have to live with it.

A forged aluminum BBS wheelset reduces the Type R’s weight by 18 lbs.


Because it is lighter, the Limited Edition has slightly different adaptive damping and electronic steering calibrations than a Type R. The dampers maintain control of the Civic taking into account the trimmer body and after driving a Limited Edition back to back with a Type R Touring on the track, the changes to the steering are really noticeable. Turn-in is much sharper with quicker response, but there’s still plenty of feel and feedback through the wheel. I’m in.

Honestly, the Limited Edition only helps reinforce what makes the Civic Type R so great to begin with. Lots of turbo power, a six-speed stick with speed shift, and an incredibly capable front-wheel drive setup make for a seriously adjustable hot little hatch. The LE simply refines the things that make this boisterous little rascal a peach.

The lack of sound absorbing material results in a lot more noise in the cabin, but that’s not a big deal on the track. That said, I haven’t been able to spend quality time with the limited edition on public roads and could see the volume increase get a little annoying on longer trips. But I suppose if you’re going for the slightly more turbulent package, that’s a trade-off you’re willing to make.

This little thing is a real trail hunter.


When it comes to creature comfort, the Limited Edition has everything you’ll find on the regular Type R Touring. Sports seats are as supportive as they are comfortable, and a 7-inch center touchscreen also has built-in navigation Apple CarPlay is Android Auto Compatibility. You also get a whole mess of driver assistance features, including Front Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control. The only thing missing? Heated seats. Sigh.

Honda will build 1,000 examples of the Civic Type R Limited Edition for global distribution, with 600 examples arriving in the United States. They will all be painted phoenix yellow and will have a serialized license plate on the dashboard.

Priced at $ 44,950 (including $ 955 per destination), the limited edition costs $ 6,500 more than the 2021 Type R Touring. I’d probably prefer just a Touring, personally, as that’s 95% of the car for much less. money. But I’m totally hooked on the Limited Edition and I’m sure Honda will have no problem moving every single one. Plus, it’s not like Honda needed a strong sales motive to give the green light to this project, however. Which reminds me: good luck with that “Ring run.

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