We drove a $36,000 Honda Civic Type R to see if the fastest and most powerful Honda ever sold in the US lives up to the hype. Here's the verdict

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Honda Civic Type RBenjamin Zhang/Business InsiderOur Honda Civic Type R

  • The Honda Civic Type R is the fastest and most powerful car the company has ever sold in the US.
  • The Civic Type R debuted in the US market in 2017. Sky high demand saw some dealers mark up the British-built car by as much as $10,000.
  • The Honda Civic Type R is powered by a 306 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with VTEC.
  • The 2018 Honda Civic Type R starts at $34,700 with an $895 destination fee pushing the as test price to $35,595.
  • We were impressed by the Type R's powerful engine, slick six-speed-manual transmission, confidence-inspiring handling, and surprising versatility.
  • We were less than enthused with the boy racer styling, uncomfortable racing seats, and frustrating infotainment system.

The Honda Civic is the best-selling compact car in America and has been a sales leader since its introduction more than four decades ago.

However, it is hard to ignore how far the compact cars segment has fallen. According to Kelley Blue Book, sales of small passenger cars in the US fell nearly 7% last year. This year things are even worse with sales down roughly 14% over the first ten months of the year. And there's no indication America's mass exodus to crossovers and SUVs seems will end anytime soon.

But even a shrinking compact car segment will still account for roughly two million units sold this year and comprise around 11% of the entire auto market.

Read more: Honda just unveiled a new all-American SUV to take on Ford, Nissan, and Chevy.

The Civic's combination of fuel efficiency, reliability, and enthusiastic driving dynamics has helped it achieve long-lasting success around the world.

In spite of the Civic's popularity in the market, US consumers have never had the chance to own the Type R, the performance halo atop the Civic lineup. That all changed in 2017 when Honda finally corrected this glaring omission with the introduction of the 10th generation Honda Civic Type R.

It's the fastest and most powerful car ever sold in the US with the Honda badge. (The NSX is sold as an Acura in the US.)

The response from consumers was swift. The initial batch of 2,500 cars quickly sold out with many less scrupulous dealers selling the Type R for more than $10,000 above the sticker price. According to Honda, it's a practice the company's executive actively discourage.

Read more: The Kia Stinger is Business Insider's 2018 Car of the Year.

This year, Honda imported another 5,000 Type Rs into the US and they have sold quickly well in spite of the price markups.

Recently, we spent a week with a 2018 Honda Civic Type R in Rallye Red.

The base 2018 Honda Civic LX sedan starts at $18,940. However, the Type R's impressive performance credentials means it lives at a considerably higher price point and starts at $34,700. However, with the $895 destination fee, the as-tested price shoots up to $35,595.

Here's a closer look at the Honda Civic Type R.

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The Honda Civic made its US debut in 1973.

The Honda Civic made its US debut in 1973.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Civic became one of the best-selling cars in America.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Civic became one of the best-selling cars in America.

It also cemented its status as a go-to for fun, reliable, and fuel efficient motoring.

It also cemented its status as a go-to for fun, reliable, and fuel efficient motoring.

In 1992, Honda introduced the Type R designation on its NSX supercar. In Type R configuration, the cars are made lighter, more aerodynamic, and given a host of other performance-oriented enhancements.

In 1992, Honda introduced the Type R designation on its NSX supercar. In Type R configuration, the cars are made lighter, more aerodynamic, and given a host of other performance-oriented enhancements.

The Type R designation was first bestowed upon the sixth generation Civic in 1997. Even though it was sold in Japan until 2000, it never made it to the US.

The Type R designation was first bestowed upon the sixth generation Civic in 1997. Even though it was sold in Japan until 2000, it never made it to the US.

In fact, none of the subsequent generations of the Civic Type R were...

In fact, none of the subsequent generations of the Civic Type R were...

...Ever...

...Ever...

...Sold in the US.

...Sold in the US.

Even though the Integra Type R was available in the US from 1997 to 2001, it was sold as an Acura.

Even though the Integra Type R was available in the US from 1997 to 2001, it was sold as an Acura.

America would have to wait 20 years to get its first taste of the Civic Type R.

America would have to wait 20 years to get its first taste of the Civic Type R.

The 10th generation Honda Civic debuted in 2015. However, the accompanying Type R variant wouldn't appear until 2017.

The 10th generation Honda Civic debuted in 2015. However, the accompanying Type R variant wouldn't appear until 2017.

These days, the Civic Type R competes directly with...

These days, the Civic Type R competes directly with...

...Subaru Impreza WRX STI,....

...Subaru Impreza WRX STI,....

... The Volkswagen Golf R, and...

... The Volkswagen Golf R, and...

...At the upper end of the price spectrum, the BMW M2.

...At the upper end of the price spectrum, the BMW M2.

While based on the regular Civic, the Type is a whole different monster. This is especially the case with its aerodynamics. While some may not be the biggest fan of its looks, every bit of plastic or carbon and every odd angle is there to make the car go faster. Nothing has been added purely for show.

While based on the regular Civic, the Type is a whole different monster. This is especially the case with its aerodynamics. While some may not be the biggest fan of its looks, every bit of plastic or carbon and every odd angle is there to make the car go faster. Nothing has been added purely for show.

For example, the outer winglets and the vertical openings by the front wheels team up to smooth out airflow and to create downforce at high speeds.

For example, the outer winglets and the vertical openings by the front wheels team up to smooth out airflow and to create downforce at high speeds.

The slit at the top of the grille feels fresh air into the engine while the hood scoop cools the engine compartment.

The slit at the top of the grille feels fresh air into the engine while the hood scoop cools the engine compartment.

Outback the massive rear spoiler helps keep the Civic planted at high speed.

Outback the massive rear spoiler helps keep the Civic planted at high speed.

It's also designed to be out of the driver's line of sight.

It's also designed to be out of the driver's line of sight.

Even though the wing doesn't hinder rearward visibility, the bar that separates the two panes of glass does.

Even though the wing doesn't hinder rearward visibility, the bar that separates the two panes of glass does.

According to Honda, the Type R's aeropackage delivers an impressive 66 pounds of downforce at 124.3 mph.

According to Honda, the Type R's aeropackage delivers an impressive 66 pounds of downforce at 124.3 mph.

These blacked out performance wheels look amazing. Unfortunately, our test car seems to have taken a beating before it was delivered to us.

These blacked out performance wheels look amazing. Unfortunately, our test car seems to have taken a beating before it was delivered to us.

The triple outlet sport exhaust sounds terrific especially once you get the motor wound up.

The triple outlet sport exhaust sounds terrific especially once you get the motor wound up.

Here's the Type R badge just to remind you that this is no regular Civic.

Here's the Type R badge just to remind you that this is no regular Civic.

As with other Civic hatchbacks, the Type R is built at Honda's factory in Swindon, England.

As with other Civic hatchbacks, the Type R is built at Honda's factory in Swindon, England.

Here's a side view of Honda's new hot hatch.

Here's a side view of Honda's new hot hatch.

Inside the Type R is part practical Civic and part speed machine.

Inside the Type R is part practical Civic and part speed machine.

The Type R comes standard with these specially designed sport seats. While their pronounced bolstering do provide great support while cornering, the seats aren't terribly comfortable or practical in everyday use. They also made ingress and egress more difficult.

The Type R comes standard with these specially designed sport seats. While their pronounced bolstering do provide great support while cornering, the seats aren't terribly comfortable or practical in everyday use. They also made ingress and egress more difficult.

However, the carbon fiber seat backs and red seat belts look really cool.

However, the carbon fiber seat backs and red seat belts look really cool.

The Civic Type R's cockpit is all about business.

The Civic Type R's cockpit is all about business.

In front of the driver is a three-compartment instrument cluster with a configurable digital display in the middle.

In front of the driver is a three-compartment instrument cluster with a configurable digital display in the middle.

The Type R is equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen running an older version of Honda's corporate infotainment system.

The Type R is equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen running an older version of Honda's corporate infotainment system.

The system lacks a physical volume and tuning knobs. Which makes operation at speed more complicated than necessary. Fortunately, Honda rectified the situation for the 2019 model year.

The system lacks a physical volume and tuning knobs. Which makes operation at speed more complicated than necessary. Fortunately, Honda rectified the situation for the 2019 model year.

The system does come equipped with a built-in navigation system.

The system does come equipped with a built-in navigation system.

However, I ended up using Apple CarPlay most of the time.

However, I ended up using Apple CarPlay most of the time.

Now, let's take a look at the rest of the cabin.

Now, let's take a look at the rest of the cabin.

There's room for two additional passengers in the second row. A center cupholder and storage area prevents a fifth passenger from fitting.

There's room for two additional passengers in the second row. A center cupholder and storage area prevents a fifth passenger from fitting.

Overall, the second row was roomy and comfortable in spite of the fact that the front sports seats cut into legroom a bit.

Overall, the second row was roomy and comfortable in spite of the fact that the front sports seats cut into legroom a bit.

Open up the rear hatch and...

Open up the rear hatch and...

.... You'll find an impressive 25.7 cubic feet of cargo room. This beats out many compact SUVs. Fold down the second row and cargo space increases 46.2 cubic feet.

.... You'll find an impressive 25.7 cubic feet of cargo room. This beats out many compact SUVs. Fold down the second row and cargo space increases 46.2 cubic feet.

Under the hood lurks a 306 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged VTEC engine.

Under the hood lurks a 306 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged VTEC engine.

VTEC plus turbo!!

VTEC plus turbo!!

The Type R's quick shifting six-speed manual is one of the back transmission of its type we've encountered in recent years.

The Type R's quick shifting six-speed manual is one of the back transmission of its type we've encountered in recent years.

The Type R is also equipped with a drive mode selector that changes the personality of the hot hatch. In comfort mode, the adjustable dampers are softened enough to make the Civic a capable daily driver. In Race mode, it's a beast designed to tackle Germany's famed Nurburgring.

The Type R is also equipped with a drive mode selector that changes the personality of the hot hatch. In comfort mode, the adjustable dampers are softened enough to make the Civic a capable daily driver. In Race mode, it's a beast designed to tackle Germany's famed Nurburgring.

Honda hasn't released the official performance figures for the Type R.

Honda hasn't released the official performance figures for the Type R.

However, the Type R made the run from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds during testing by Motor Trend.

However, the Type R made the run from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds during testing by Motor Trend.

Source: Motor Trend.

The Brembo brakes enable the car to go from 60 mph to a complete stop in just 100 feet.

The Brembo brakes enable the car to go from 60 mph to a complete stop in just 100 feet.

Source: Motor Trend.

So, what's it like to drive?

So, what's it like to drive?

The Honda Civic Type R is a beast to drive. It's easily the best Civic I've ever driven, and one of the finest hot hatchbacks ever made.

The Type R is smooth and docile in comfort mode and an all-out monster when required. It's old school in feel, but thoroughly modern in execution.

The Type R is a bit of an oddity in that its front-wheel-drive as opposed the all-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive setups that are in vogue these days. According to Honda, sending power only to the front wheels saved considerable weight and cut the car's price by a few thousand dollars.

For what it's worth, the Civic's trick front differential negated any sign of the dreaded torque steer that has plagued other cars in the genres.

Our verdict.

Our verdict.

Whether it's on a cold rainy day or if you've just stumbled home from a night out, there are few things in life more consistently fulfilling than the simple pleasure provided by a bowl of noodles.

But look at bit deeper and you'll realize that there's much more going on that you'd expect. The subtle interplay between the savory broth and the warm noodles or how the roast pork melds with the freshly poached egg.

I'm reminded of this when I drive Civic Type R.

The high-revving turbo VTEC engine and its slick shifting six-speed offer up some truly old-school driving pleasure.

But the advanced aerodynamics and performance-tuned active suspension remind you that this machine is far from a simpleton.

For me, the Honda Civic Type R is nothing short of incredible. Sure the seats aren't terribly comfortable and I'm about a decade too old for the boy racer looks. But apart from that, there isn't a whole to complain about.

We've waited 20 years for Honda to give us this car. It was well worth the wait.

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