Date: July 21, 2022 10:33
Following the global reveal of the 2023 Honda Civic Type R, after shooting dozens of photos of the car, walking around it and sitting in it, here is a collection of our initial thoughts. NOTE: For brevity we will refer to the 2023 Civic Type R by its chassis code, which is FL5. FK8 is the chassis code for the 2017-2021 Civic Type R models)
A few weeks ago we caught wind that the FL5 would be built in Japan when Honda showed off the camouflaged prototype of at the Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. We actually tweeted a photo of the VIN, but then almost as soon as we posted it we were kindly asked to delete it as we found out the car's VIN shouldn't have been visible at that point. Last night, all 3 FL5s clearly showed Japanese VINs and Honda quietly confirmed that the FL5 will in fact be built exclusively in Japan. Interestingly, one of the white FL5s on display wore the same exact VIN as the camouflaged car that was shown in Ohio.
First, we'll start with the styling. Overall, we love it. The car has a muscular, purposeful look without relying upon tacked-on body pieces or flashy trim parts. It's a more polished, mature look. Since the FK8 came out, we have always thought that the standard 20" wheels were not well matched to the car's proportions, and in fact we thought the perfect wheel for the car would be 19" in size, and that's what they've gone to for the FL5. The tires are 20mm wider now (265/30R-19s in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S), and the wheel and tire package fills the wheel wells of the FL5 very nicely. Side note: Honda's designers were concerned that the 19s might appear too small on the car, so they used a reverse lip design for the new wheels. Also, the wheels have gone to a matte black and the Civic Type R finally comes with matching lug nuts (vs the chrome lug nuts that came on the FK8.)
As for the bodywork, the FL5 is significantly wider than the Civic Hatchback (FL1/FL2) upon which it is based, and to achieve this, Honda went to greater lengths with the FL5, using unique stampings for the fenders, quarter panels, and even the rear doors.
The vent in the hood has been relocated to a position which places it directly above the turbocharger and downpipe, which makes a lot more sense for heat management. The design of the 11th generation Civics has pushed the dash to axle distance out a bit, providing more room in the engine bay, and Honda's engineers have taken the opportunity give the FL5 considerably more breathing room between the very hot surfaces of the turbocharger and the radiator. While Honda claims they addressed the FK8's cooling issues with the 2020 mid-cycle refresh, it appears that the FL5 will have considerably more margin on the thermal side of the balance sheet. As a side benefit, there is noticeably more clearance to work on the front side of the engine, should you choose to upgrade or service anything around the turbocharger or the charge pipes and intercooler. Update 28 July: Another thing we noticed (and forgot to mention until today) is that the FL5 now uses a single, larger radiator fan (see photo #87), as opposed to the twin fans that were used in the FK8.
Same engine, but more powerful
The FL5's engine bay houses Honda's mighty K20C1 engine, the same designation used for the FK8's engine. In FK8 form, the 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC VTEC engine developed 306hp and 295 lb-ft of torque (in the US/Canadian market). For the FL5, all we know at this point is that the K20C1 will produce something more than that. Our guess is that it will be somewhere in the 315-320hp range. UPDATE 22 July: For what it's worth, there is a document that leaked somewhere showing a +10ps increase for the Asian FL5s, putting them at 330ps and 420nm (309 lb-ft). Thanks to Nam at the FK8 Product Reviews Group on FaceBook for sharing the image.
Why does the inlet pipe look like that?
For people who are familiar with the FK8's K20C1, one of the first differences that is noticed when you pop the hood of the FL5 is that the turbocharger inlet pipe looks quite different, featuring what appears to be a small plenum. The entire intake tract appears to have been enlarged to an extent, in fact. Another thing that you might notice is that the airbox opening on the FL5 is considerably more open and larger than the FK8s, so our best guess is that the plenum on the inlet pipe is designed to mitigate the sounds that the turbo and bypass valves naturally make during normal operation. In the FK8, these sounds are normally squelched by the factory air box.
What else is different under the hood?
We peered around as much as we could underhood, and while there were some minor differences in hose routing and other similar housekeeping items, everything else looks pretty similar. It's not a huge deal, but we noticed that the battery blanket now fully encloses the 12V battery.
At the the reveal in Los Angeles, there were 3 FL5s shown. The 2 that were opened up for interior inspection were unfortunately the 2 with the least amount of lighting, so we didn't get great photos of the cargo area, but a quick visual inspection shows that it's very similar to the cargo area of the FK8. Front and rear seating areas also felt pretty similar in terms of passenger space. Like the FK8, The FL5 retains the FK8's a 4-seat configuration. The front seats have been redesigned and the hard plastic shell that encased the seatbacks of the FK8's seats has been largely replaced with fabric. Only the upper portion of the seat back, behind the shoulder area is hard plastic now. The new seats are very comfortable, but it seems like they were perhaps not as snug in fit as the FK8's seats, which may or may not be a good thing, depending upon your preferences.
The FL5 has red carpets now, amping up the "R-factor" a little but, but some of that is offset by the rest of the interior being a bit more muted compared to the FK8's. Apart from the seats and carpeting, the FL5's interior motif isn't too much different from the standard Civic Hatchback, though Honda wisely replaced the glossy black trim of the lesser models with a matte black finish. There is no more faux carbon fibre or red accents beyond the LED lightpipes in the front doorcards. The cabin is (somewhat) illuminated by LEDs in the front map lights and the center dome light. The front footwells appeared have some illumination as well.
My favorite part of the interior is the updated dash with the gorgeous 10.2" LCD Driver Information Interface Screen and the upgraded 9" center touchscreen display. We didn't have a lot of time to mess around with it, but the Driver Information Interface Screen changes gauge layout depending upon drive mode, which by the way, features a new "Individual" setting allowing you to tailor many aspects of the drive mode to your specific preferences. Otherwise, you can select Comfort, Sport, and +R. The gauge display on +R mode shows a bar graph style rev counter, with a sort of inverse log scale that compresses the lower end of the rev range and expands it out as the needle approaches the rev limiter. Just below the rev counter is a large display showing the current selected gear. Just below the gear indicator, there digital readouts of sensor readings that you never typically see on Honda gauge clusters, including intake air temp (IAT), engine coolant temp, oil temperature and oil pressure. Air temp and turbo boost readings are displayed in this group as well. As a suggestion from TOV, an enhancement that would be very useful would be if you could set these readings to change colors according to user selected ranges, so instead of reading the water temp or oil pressure as you're ripping through the gears during a track session, you could glance to see if any of the readings were changing to yellow or red. It would also be nice if you could customize that layout, maybe deleting a few items that you're not so interested in (such as ambient air temp or intake air temp), in favor of enlarging the ones that you really want to monitor.
This was supposed to be posted with a quite large photo gallery attached but the wifi on the flight back to Atlanta hasn't quite cooperated so the photos will be added later when we can get to a good wifi signal.
Last edited by JeffX on
July 28, 2022 13:17