It wasn’t all that long ago that the Honda Civic Type R was the forbidden fruit of legends. While other markets had the Civic Type R (and the NSX Type R in Japan), we had to make due here with a handful of the long-discontinued Integra Type R numbered cars, which have climbed so much in value they are almost unusable for the track.
Enter the major move by Honda to bring the Civic Type R to the United States and not in a half-baked effort either, but a turbo-FWD performer that embarrasses all-wheel drive and higher-horsepower cars. The current Honda Civic Type R was briefly the fastest front-wheel-drive production vehicle on the famed Nürburgring circuit, but the new 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition aims to crush that record in a car limited to only 600 units.
The company has positioned the 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition as the “ultimate street-legal, track-focused variant” on the lowly commuter platform. The Civic has a cult following around the world but hit its stride in the 1990s when other markets got the Civic Type R in the EK chassis. Tuners, the world-over, tried to emulate it and build one themselves.
Now, there is no need to build any bootleg version. After having seat time in the Civic Type R, there isn’t much to improve upon in this balanced 306-hp rocket hatch. However, Honda has constructed a lighter, faster, and more tossable Civic Type R with this Limited Edition. Exclusive to only 600 units, that car comes in only one color as well, the brilliant new Phoenix Yellow hue being the sole offering in a hat-tip to the single colors found on Type R legacy cars.
Wait, what? Didn’t the BMW E46 M3 have that color name? Well, same old name, but quite an attractive color for the five-door-turbo Honda regardless. The Phoenix Yellow is contrasted highly with a gloss black roof, mirror caps, hood vent garnish, and out-back there is a black chrome badge.
One of the most critical missions was the weight-reduction program, which is not easy in cars of today with all of the safety systems and gadgets the market demands. A total of 46-pounds was pulled out with the removal of sound deadening, rear HVAC ducts, hatch cover, and rear-wiper delete as well a new set of lightweight wheels.
Wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, the lightweight BBS wheels are forged aluminum. They alone have reduced the unsprung mass by 18-pounds, meaning the Civic Type R Limited Edition rolling gear will help it dance around the corners.
The steering system has been redesigned to provide more realistic feedback and road feel around the turns versus the “base” Type R. The already capable suspension is improved by Honda racing engineers with a revised track-tuned damper underneath. The three driving-mode selections: Comfort, Sport, and R+ optimize the stiffness of the dampers, sharpen the steering assist, and of course, remap the throttle for an instant-on response out of the corners.
The engine, however, doesn’t have the changes or boosted rating for which purists might have hoped. The same 2.0-liter, 4-banger turbo is producing 306 hp with 295 lb-ft of twist. But, in a chassis that is stiffer and lighter, so the difference will be felt when the Civic Type R Limited Edition is challenged in the twisties.
Honda fanboys have grown up now, and with big-boy paychecks comes more expensive toys. While there is no pricing announced yet for the 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition, the Type R is already $37,950, and we expect this 600-car run complete with number plate and country of sale to be well north of $40-grand later this year.