PUNCH AND PRACTICALITY
Honda revises and refines the sporty Civic to handle fun runs and family chores AT A GLANCE
Go-fast little Hondas have been around since the 1990s, when the first Integra Type R reached Australia. The originals were raw road rockets, with screaming naturally aspirated engines, scrabbling frontwheel drive and rock-hard suspension, fitted with race-style bucket seats in fire engine red.
The latest Type R is more mature. There is still punch for a fun run, the seats are much the same but its turbo engine tones things down for cruising and there is much more luxury.
THE PICK-UP ELI: PAUL:
Dad, this car is a bit show-off.
You’re right. It looks like one of your eight-year-old mates did the wings and things.
Come on, it’s not that bad. It might not be my taste, it’s not your typical family car but lots of people seem to like it.
It’s got a bunch of rivals, from the Ford Focus RS to Subaru STI. They’re fairly basic cars with an injection of go-faster gear.
So there are people who want something like this. And it definitely stands out in a crowd.
ALI: PAUL: ALI: THE BAGGAGE PAUL:
Hidden inside all that speedy silliness is a really practical little five-door hatch. That’s something that’s easy to forget.
It gives scope for a young family of thrill-seekers. They can keep the revhead happy and still have the family travel about on the weekend.
It also has the quality and comfort of the latest Civic. That was completely lost in earlier Type Rs.
ALI: PAUL: THE COMMUTE PAUL:
I still don’t like the infotainment set-up. It always seems to be working against me.
For $55,000 I expect to get satnav, so that’s a negative for me. It should feel a bit special inside, not just relying on the bodywork.
I think the bright-red seats make a statement. And they give good support in corners.
I like the seat belts, which feel luxurious, but the bucket seats are no good for me. They’re uncomfortable for driving more than an hour, with no support for my back. I think the seats are fun.
It’s good to just trundle around, not as uncomfortable as I had feared.
ALI: PAUL: ALI: ELI: PAUL: THE SHOPPING ALI:
It zips around the streets well and it’s easy to park. Even the turning circle is pretty good. I like the three driving modes, from Comfort to Sport+, and you can really feel the difference. It’s not just the engine, also the suspension and even the weight on the steering.
I mostly left it in Sport. It can be a bit dozy in Comfort.
Me too. The turbo engine has good response. I don’t like the heavy steering in the Sport+ setting. I struggled with the gearshift. The gates felt very close together and it was hard to pick between first and third sometimes.
I know what you mean but I like the six-speed and the way the engine blips itself when you shift down in Sport+. It’s more responsive than the Focus RS in the controls and I like the space inside, compared to the Ford.
PAUL: ALI: PAUL: ALI: PAUL: SUNDAY RUN ALI:
There is lots of road noise, thanks to the low-profile tyres. And there is no spare at all, which worries me.
PAUL: The noise also comes from the tread design, which helps with the grip. It has fantastic Brembo brakes, just turns and goes in most corners, and really romps when you get the turbo spinning.
You can drive it slowly if you want. That’s something I like.
But Type R buyers are likely to be Type A personalities who want to go for a thrash. It is really quick. It set the fastest front-wheel drive lap time around the Nurburgring.
Does that really matter?
It’s good for bragging rights. And that’s important for Type R buyers, who might also be thinking about a Subaru STI.
You still don’t have to go fast. I like that.
Yes, the suspension has real compliance instead of the harshness of a lot of performance cars.
PAUL: ALI: PAUL:
ALI: PAUL: THE FAMILY PAUL:
It’s easy to forget that the Type R is also a good family car. Honda missed the mark with the previous-generation Civic but this one is back to its best.
The boot is huge, which is great, and I also like getting 6.3L/100km on a trip.
I think it’s comfortable and my friends like it. They think it’s wicked.
8.8L/100km (can do better)
Our friends, Hasina and Alex, would love it. They used to have a Lancer Evo so this would be ideal for driving and also as a family car. It’s definitely got the fun factor while staying practical.
HONDA CIVIC TYPE R None (very poor)
TICK OR NO TICK ALI:
I know some people who would love it but it’s a no for me personally.
It’s a no for me. I really enjoy driving it, fast and slow, but I could never recommend the cartoon craziness in the body.
414L-764L (no drama)