Fast, responsive, and fun driving in a somewhat grown-up package

Quick notes

– The engine produces 301 horsepower.

– Looks that will split opinion.

– Roomy enough for four adults.

Everyone loves a good, hot hatchback. They offer power without sacrificing any utility. You can just as quickly go to the supermarket as to the track.

Take a hot hatch out on the highway, and you’ll find stable handling, fantastic brakes, and enough power on tap to keep a smile on your face. At least, in theory.

Is the 2019 Honda Civic Type R more of a Volkswagen Golf GTI, or an MG Metro Turbo? Will it give its life-giving fun or heartbreak to its owners? Let’s take a look.

Honda Civic Type R engine and drive

The good news is that the engine on this car is punchy. It’s got a 306 horsepower, two-liter engine, which is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The Civic Type R’s top speed is an incredible 170 mph, while it accelerates from 0-60 in just 5.1 seconds.

“The engine on this car is punchy. It’s got a 306 horsepower, two-liter engine.”

About 10 to 15 years ago, those would have been high-end sports car specs. Now you can have them in a hatchback.

How does it handle? In a word, incredibly. There’s no torque steer or understeer, and it glides around corners in serene fashion.

The car can handle sharp corners, long turns, and straights with aplomb. If you’re looking for a hot hatchback that can handle anything you throw at it, the Civic Type R is for you.

Honda Civic Type R looks

The Civic Type R’s looks are going to divide people. I personally love them, thinking they bring to mind the classic stylings of the Nissan Skyline. However, some people think it looks like a Transformers toy come to life, and that it’s not something a self-respecting adult would drive.

“It looks like a Transformers toy come to life.”

Compared to older models, the axels are wider, and the center of gravity is lower. There’s less of a bulge at the top, and it looks more like a standard sedan rather than the compact it used to resemble.

There is a range of body styles available. In addition to the hatchback style, you can also get the Type R as a coupe and a sedan.

Honda Civic Type R interior and ride

The Civic Type R’s interior is exceptionally roomy. The seats are the lightest that Honda has ever put into a Type R, and their red color grabs the attention immediately. They offer fantastic leg and back support, despite being racing seats, and there’s easily enough room in the back for two adults.

“Red detailing on the wheel and instruments completes the Type R look.”

The interior is nicely furnished, too. There’s nothing extraordinary, but leather is used beautifully.

On the technology front, the Type R has everything that you’d expect to find in a car at this price point, except for navigation as standard. The radio is loud, there’s smartphone integration, and the infotainment system is easy enough to use, if unpolished.

The ride is fine but stiff. It feels more like a supercar’s ride than that of a standard hatchback/sedan. There’s very little pitch and roll in the chassis, which does help compensate for this somewhat.

If you’re looking for an exceptionally comfortable ride, you won’t find it in the Type R, though.

Should you buy one?

If you’ve always wanted to get a hot hatchback, the 2019 Honda Civic Type R is a great place to jump in. It’s roomy, fun to drive, and breathlessly quick while still being practical enough for everyday use.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:

Should you call the police after you get into an accident? | Autos 101

Do you know what to do if you get into an accident?

5 tips for buying your first car | Autos 101

About to get your first car? You’ll need to know these top tips.

Best towing SUVs on the market | Autos 101

If you’ve got a lot of cargo to lug, these are the SUVs for you.