September 26, 2022

The second-generation Honda Civic Sort R EP3 is a fan favorite that delivers critical driving thrills wrapped up in a dependable and sensible package deal. It’s nonetheless reasonably priced however is quickly turning into a contemporary traditional, so don’t wait if you wish to purchase one.

Phrases: Daniel Bevis and Elizabeth de Latour. Images: Honda

Honda Civic Sort R EP3 – A Temporary Historical past

The Honda Civic Sort EP3 was manufactured in Swindon and featured a 2.0-litre i-VTEC K20A2 motor (try our tuning information). Marque fanatics will fortunately level out that Japanese-market EP3s featured LSDs, Championship White paint and Recaro seats, which UK fashions didn’t have, though they have been additionally in-built Swindon… so any grey-import Japanese EP3 you discover has really been up the Suez Canal each methods!

Affectionately nicknamed ‘breadvan’, the EP3 was in manufacturing from 2001-2005, and the specs remained comparatively unchanged all through its lifespan. A light facelift in 2004 introduced in a lighter clutch and flywheel together with a redesigned entrance bumper and projector headlights.

The hysterically revvy K20 motor provided peak energy of 197hp; these aren’t torquey motors, peaking at 145lb ft, however they are surely all in regards to the revs. The precept of VTEC is essential to the Sort R’s character: a contracted acronym for Variable Valve Timing and Elevate Digital Management, the system works by providing two completely different cam profiles, and hydraulically shifting between them. The comparatively economical profile is in operation as much as 5500rpm, at which level the manic profile kicks in for greater raise and longer length. In essence, because of this once you attain the purpose on the rev counter the place in different automobiles you’d be desirous about shifting up a gear, a VTEC motor all of a sudden gives you with oodles extra screaming, rampaging horses. In a nutshell, because of this the engine may be two issues without delay – juvenile, and grown-up: you may have a racy, track-ready cam profile with out the inherent lumpy idle and poor economic system for those who’re simply pootling to the retailers for a pint of milk.

Closing out the manufacturing run of the EP3, the Premier Version was offered as a run-out particular, sporting crimson Recaros, tinted home windows and a leather-based Momo steering wheel.

Honda Civic Sort R EP3 Costs

Honda Civic Sort R EP3 costs are on the rise as they more and more discover themselves revered and pedestalised by the modern-classic neighborhood; it’s nonetheless attainable to select them up for a few grand, however we’d critically advise in opposition to it. These are specialist machines that require specialist care: whereas they’re sensible and usable sufficient to be pushed day by day, a real fanatic shall be checking the oil each week. So that you must be paying a premium for the information {that a} automotive’s been enthusiast-owned: reliable EP3s begin at £5500, with actually good low-mileage Premier Editions getting as excessive as £9k. Japanese-spec automobiles are few and much between within the UK and usually begin at £11k+. There are at all times a number of low-mileage EP3s available on the market across the £14k-17k mark, however we’d recommend warning in opposition to overpaying – they might be superb, however is a £17,000 EP3 actually £10k higher than a seven-grand one?

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Honda Civic Sort R EP3 High 5 Widespread Issues

  • Stretched timing chain
  • Worn steering rack
  • Worn seat bolsters
  • Door mouldings and window seals deteriorating
  • Rusty rear arches on facelift fashions

Honda Civic Type R EP3 engine

Engine and Transmission

These engines can go on seemingly eternally if correctly maintained, they’re pretty bulletproof in quick street driving and even in exhausting observe use – however the important thing to protecting them ticking is to maintain them usually serviced. You’ve at all times received to keep watch over the oil degree! So once you’re taking a look at a automotive with a K20 motor, you’ll want to fastidiously comb by way of the service historical past, and now have a great chat with the proprietor about how they’ve used and sorted the automotive. If they appear uninformed or disinterested, stroll away; there are many different automobiles available on the market. The K20 does use a little bit of oil, that’s only a attribute of the best way they function, so a conscientious proprietor shall be protecting a daily eye on ranges and topping it up with 5W30. Ensure that VTEC is available in clearly at round 5500rpm – it is going to be very noticeable when it does, and if it doesn’t, then it suggests the oil is low, and also you’re not taking a look at a automotive with a contented, wholesome engine that’s been correctly cared for.

Timing chains can stretch, and tensioners can fail in uncommon circumstances, so it’s beneficial to get them modified at 75,000, in addition to having the valve clearances and tappets checked. Our recommendation can be that for those who’re shopping for one on 100k+ and the historical past doesn’t present the work having been achieved, put the job close to the highest of your to-do checklist – it’s round a £600 job, but it surely’s undoubtedly price it for peace of thoughts. Unfastened warmth shields and manifold covers may cause rattles from underneath the bonnet, and they’re low-cost to repair, so don’t panic for those who hear some noise from the engine.


The six-speed gearbox is mostly fairly powerful, however there are some things to observe for. Crunching from the gearbox because it goes into second gear is widespread, and it’s not an excessive amount of of a priority; do be cautious of a heavy clutch, although – they’re gentle in operation, so a heavy one will want changing quickly. There was additionally a recall issued for 2004 automobiles for the gearbox leaping out of second gear underneath acceleration, so ensure it’s been achieved. Each engine and gearbox mounts can fail on automobiles which have seen a whole lot of observe use, which clearly isn’t unusual with Civic Sort Rs, so rock the engine to verify that it doesn’t transfer any greater than it ought to.

Honda Civic Type R EP3 wheel

Suspension and brakes

The excellent news is that usually talking, there’s little or no to look out for when it comes to the chassis, with only some key areas to look out for. The steering rack on early pre-facelift EP3s is a little bit of a weak spot, and also you’ll know if it’s worn as a result of the wheel gained’t self-centre correctly. If the automotive pulls to the appropriate once you let go of the steering wheel, you’ll instantly know that the steering rack is in charge. There was a recall for worn racks, so verify to see if it’s ever been achieved. The excellent news is that used racks in good situation from later automobiles aren’t exhausting to supply, but it surely’s an concerned (i.e. costly) job to swap one in. It’s price getting a 2004-on rack as those fitted to facelift automobiles have revised steering geometry to minimize understeer. Any creaking noises from the rack may be resolved by getting it lubricated.

Suspension-wise, the unique dampers are liable to put on, but it surely’s unlikely any automotive will nonetheless be operating them as they may in all probability have been changed with an uprated set. The one different factor to actually look out for is whether or not the automotive sits degree – if not, it can most probably level to worn bushes and ball joints. Brakes are robust and dependable, with simply rear calipers liable to sticking, however getting them cleaned will type this out.

Honda Civic Type R interior


Inside-wise, the EP3 could be a bit rattly because the sprint plastics are fairly low-cost, and door deal with inserts can develop into scratched, however a DIY spray job will get them trying considerably higher. Make it possible for the electrical home windows work easily, and worn seat bolsters are widespread as they’re fairly massive, and also you rub in opposition to them getting out and in of the automotive. Air-con was non-obligatory, and if it’s fitted to the automotive you’re taking a look at, ensure it really works – by no means imagine anybody that tells you it simply wants a re-gas, and if it’s not blowing chilly, verify the situation of the condenser as it is going to be the most probably wrongdoer. However in any other case, it’s all usually hard-wearing and gained’t go falling aside on you.


Honda Civic Type R EP3 rear action shot


Rust isn’t actually an enormous challenge on the Honda Civic Sort R EP3, however that’s to not say that you simply shouldn’t examine any potential buy totally to make sure it’s strong. The sills and arches are the place you want to verify, and any seen rust may very well be an indication of extra lurking the place you may’t see it. Facelift automobiles are particularly inclined because the rear arches have been fitted with sound-deadening materials that additionally had a behavior of trapping water, which clearly isn’t preferrred. If the arch liners are nonetheless current, simply eliminate them.

The paint is sort of mushy, so stone chips across the entrance are quite common. Milano Purple automobiles look nice, however they do undergo from paint fade if a automotive has spent its life outdoors, after which they begin to flip pink. Machine sprucing ought to carry the crimson again after which preserve it trying crimson by usually making use of a good-quality wax, ideally one which’s been designed to supply additional UV safety. If the paint fade is admittedly unhealthy and is past saving, a respray shall be your solely choice.

A typical challenge is that the door mouldings and window seals deteriorate, so look out for that, and in addition verify that the aerial base isn’t leaking and letting water into the cabin. Get contained in the automotive and verify the headlining across the B- and C-pillars to see for those who can really feel any indicators of dampness. The headlights additionally are likely to go milky, however you may restore them with a sprucing equipment, and the aspect skirts additionally tend to return free, so verify them.

Lastly, verify that the boot lid spoiler on the tailgate sits flush with the roofline when it’s closed – if not, it’s an indication that the hinges are damaged and want changing. These want lubricating as they age, so in case your spoiler is sweet and flush, preserve your hinges properly lubricated to verify they don’t go breaking on you.

Honda Civic Sort R EP3 Pictures