Overall Rating:  

The hottest Hondas offered to Americans often wore an Acura badge, including the NSX supercar and the oldie-but-goodie Integra Type R. But with Ford’s wild Focus RS joining the Subaru WRX STI and the Volkswagen Golf R in the U.S., the time has come for Honda to finally introduce a machine here that wears its vaunted scarlet H emblem: the 2017 Civic Type R. While we’ve endured a long 20 years of seeing its predecessors rack up accolades on foreign tarmac, this scaldingly hot hatch was worth the wait.

HIGHS
Grip for days, excellent composure and civility, heavenly seats and shifter.
LOWS
Looking at it or being seen in it, irksome infotainment interface, less-than-thrilling engine note.

We knew the 2017 Type R was good from our first experience on the less-than-perfect roads of Quebec, Canada. Here, though, are the headline facts from this instrumented test: Zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, 1.02 g of lateral grip, and the ability to stop from 70 mph in a Porsche-like 142 feet—in a tweaked, front-wheel-drive commuter car with 61.8 percent of its 3111 pounds resting on the front wheels. So, yeah, extremely solid.

A Domesticated Heathen

What sets this Honda apart from other sport compacts is how it balances speed, body control, and outright cornering prowess with the day-to-day ride comfort that you would never expect given its rubber-band-like 30-series tires. Indeed, those 245/30ZR-20 Continental SportContact 6 performance treads offer seemingly no cushion for the spindly 20-inch aluminum wheels, and they’re pricey at $320 a pop. Yet, despite having significantly stiffer springs, dampers, bushings, and anti-roll bars than even the new Civic Si, the Type R traverses pockmarked pavement better than nearly any other car with this much stick. Even with its driving-mode selector in its full-attack +R setting—which slightly weights up the steering over the lesser Sport and Comfort modes and puts the three-position adaptive dampers in their firmest tune—the ride is fully livable. Combined with a high level of standard amenities and wonderfully comfortable and supportive sport seats (available in red cloth only), there’s little compromise to having a Type R as your sole mode of transport.