Ever since the debut of the 11th-gen Honda Civic, we’ve eagerly awaited the return of the Type R. And it didn’t take long to receive an invite to Sonoma, California, for a First Drive of the most powerful Type R ever made.

You heard right: The 2023 Type R is the most powerful one to date– 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. It isn’t an astronomical climb in performance over the outgoing Type R’s 306 horses and 295 lb-ft; but still, it’s enough to make it the most powerful Type R and the most powerful production Honda ever offered in the United States.

The front wheels are driven by an updated 2.0-liter inline-four engine, turbocharged and mated exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission. It can be tame on the streets, but the Type R is capable of some track-borne combat, so what better place to test it than the ups and downs of Sonoma Raceway?

“The extra power in the new generation Type R out here on the track– it’s appreciated, but not necessary. What’s most impressive is how well it just wants to grip to the road. From the, uh, Sport Cup 2’s– I believe they’re optional– that we have on here, all the way down to the limited-slip diff…”

The Type R was begging to be pushed more and more. And for the most part it felt solid. Revised front suspension really helped eliminate torque steering when tapping into that extra power after a corner. And I should note that the Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires are a dealer option– we hit the streets on stock rubber: Pilot 4S’s specially developed for the Type R.

The six-speed manual was near-perfect in both precision and weight. The downshift rev matches were fast and satisfying. And on the up-shifts, the redline indicator made me feel like I was in the cockpit of a fighter jet more than an F1 car, giving me tone as I chased the leading cars through the corners.

Of course, the cockpit itself is quite far removed from a multi-million-dollar warplane. It retains the trademark red upholstery and other unique touches. A 10.2-inch driver’s display and a 9-inch infotainment screen are also standard.

Further building on track-practicality, or “track-ticality” if you will, are the selectable drive modes. Start the day in comfort, then kick it up a notch in sport or R+. Or put it in individual mode and make it whatever you please. Suspension, exhaust, steering and more– it’s all located in the center screen.

The new exterior, when compared to the outgoing model, is a little more mature. Perhaps not the most apt word to describe it, especially with the big ol’ wing and extra aero strewn about, but it is a little more subtle out on the streets. But hey, who buys one of these for subtly anyway?

Speaking of buying, let’s talk MSRP. The 2023 Honda Civic Type R will start at $43,990 including Honda’s destination charge. The only option on our tester was the $395 “Championship White” paint job.

Needless to say, our time spent in the new Type R, while brief, was oh-so satisfying. Stay tuned for our impending Road Test here on MotorWeek.