2023 Honda Civic Type R (FL5) vs 2017-2021 Civic Type R (FK8): What Are the Differences?

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R is so hot right now. It’s an improved version of a hot hatch that has already proven successful, maybe the best FWD car ever developed for the track. But how does the new FL5 compare to the old FK8 generation of the Civic Type R?

The FK8 was also a big deal. The 2017 Civic Type R marked the return of this iconic hot hatch to North America. I remember how it was impossible to buy even if you were crazy enough to spend $40,000 on a compact.

On the face of it, they didn’t change that much for 2023. Power still comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. And even though this is Honda’s most powerful car to date (Acuras not included), the output has only gone up from 306 to 315 horsepower.

YouTuber Almost.Phamous is trending right now with his video, showing the first FL5 Civic Type R in Washington. With the white paint being the same as on his older generation, this is the perfect footage to start a comparison.

Civic Type R design changes

The first thing you’ll notice is how different they are from a cosmetic point. As an example, the new one uses 19-inch wheels standard compared to the 20s which were standard last time. Almost all of the fake air intakes are gone, and there’s less trim everywhere.

One very interesting difference for the American models is the tires. The old one came stock on Continentals and the 2023 Civic Type R comes stock with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S, but some of them are going to be sold with Continental in a few months. They are wider tires though, 265/30 R19 versus 245/30 R20. Wow, 265-width tires at the front of a car!

The front end just shows a clean headlight design and a couple of mesh grilles. As far as we can tell, all the vents are now functional, including brake cooling ducts and the small extractor on the hood. On the other hand, something has definitely been lost here. You can’t compare this to a Gundam, and it doesn’t look like a pre-tuned car straight from the dealership.

Something else we find interesting is that the 2023 Type R has a natural widebody at the back, as the fenders are bigger, and the rear doors are different from a standard Civic. By comparison, the 2017-2021 models added a body kit on top.

From the back, it’s quite obvious that there are much fewer trim parts on the bumper, and the trunk-mounted wing is of a cleaner design. The level of the trunk is much higher on the old FK8. Despite this, separate box tests from The Straight Pipes have shown both cars carry 11 boxes, so there’s basically no difference in practicality.

Beauty is subjective, but I actually prefer the busier FK8 from the outside except for the fake rear bumper vents.

FL5 vs FK8: the specs

As these are based on completely different generations of Civic hatchbacks, there are obvious size differences. The new FL5 has extended its wheelbase slightly, by 1.4 inches (35mm), to 107.7 inches (2,735 mm). This also reflects the overall length, which has increased from 197.5 inches (4,560 mm) to 180.9 inches (4,595 mm).

2023 models are ever-so-slightly lower and wider, which is what you want from a sports car. Weight is about the same for both models. Most of the old FK8 Civic Type R models weigh in at 3,121 lbs (1,416 kg), though some special editions were lighter. Meanwhile, the 2023 version has a curb weight of 3,188 lbs (1,446 kg).

Honda has confirmed that the gear ratios are the same for the 6-speed but the final drive has changed from 4.111 to 3.842. Another mechanical difference, the new car has many more bonding points making the chassis stiffer.

Under the hood, we find the same K20C1, one of the strongest four-cylinder engines out there. The turbocharger has had its blade count and shape optimized to improve boost and airflow across the power band, even though total output has only increased by 10 hp. It’s certainly not enough to justify 2023 prices, which now start at $44,000 for a Type R.

Another interesting quirk: The old Civic Type R was made in England, but that factory has closed. Now, these hot hatchbacks come from the factory in Yorii, Saitama in Japan. One puuuuuunch!

Speaking of which, the actual first comparison of the FL5 and FK8 actually comes from one Keiichi Tsuchiya, the drift king himself. He didn’t find dramatic differences between the way they drove but said the 2023 Type R is designed like a “cool old uncle.”

Interior differences

Both generations have red seats in the front and back seats in the back. Quality is not easily quantifiable, but the 2023 Civic Type R definitely has nicer-looking seats, more contrast, and an upmarket dashboard. In the back, an interesting upgrade appears: cup holders in what would normally be the middle seat rest. Also, red carpets are quite different from literally every other car on the market.

Full digital gauges and adaptive dampers are now part of the Type R package, so you definitely feel more like a racing driver for 2023. But I honestly feel like not having those features on the old FK8 isn’t a deal-breaker.



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