Not your reg­u­lar Type

The high per­for­mance Honda Civic Type R, which has been miss­ing from the lo­cal scene for a while, is poised for a re­turn with vengeance.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Impressions - By THOMAS HUONG huong@thes­tar.com.my

MALAYSIAN mo­tor­ing thrill seek­ers would re­mem­ber the third-gen­er­a­tion Honda Civic Type R which was launched here in Au­gust 2007, fea­tur­ing a pow­er­ful 225PS/215Nm 2.0-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine matched to a 6-speed close ra­tio man­ual trans­mis­sion with lim­ited slip dif­fer­en­tial.

Lim­ited units were al­lo­cated for the Malaysian mar­ket, and that 2007 Civic Type R in a four-door sedan body was priced at RM199,800.

This time, Honda Malaysia is keep­ing very quiet about whether they would be bring­ing in the light­ning-fast 2017 Civic

Type R, which comes in a five-door, five-seater hatch­back form.

But you know some­thing’s up when a bunch of Malaysian mo­tor­ing writ­ers are sent to Dres­den,

Ger­many to check out the new hot hatch at the Lausitzring race track.

The 2017 Civic Type R, de­vel­oped in par­al­lel with the new stan­dard Civic hatch­back, is a ma­ni­a­cal ma­chine built for speed en­thu­si­asts.

This is un­der­lined by a lap record for the fastest front-wheeldrive car at the Nur­bur­gring Nord­schleife cir­cuit in Ger­many.

That lap record of 7 min­utes 43.8 sec­onds was set by a de­vel­op­ment car, which was sim­i­lar to the pro­duc­tion ver­sion, in April this year.

Let’s look at the tar­mac scorch­ing num­bers for the new Civic Type R, which cov­ers the 0-100kph sprint in just 5.7 sec­onds and will go on to a top speed of 272kph.

This means it is both the fastest-ac­cel­er­at­ing and quick­est car in its class.

It’s pow­ered by a 2.0-litre VTEC tur­bocharged en­gine with 320PS at 6,500rpm and peak torque is 400Nm from 2,500rpm to 4,500rpm.

This is mated to a slick six-speed man­ual gear­box with a rev-match­ing func­tion that smooths shifts, and elim­i­nates trans­mis­sion “shock” due to ex­ces­sive or in­suf­fi­cient revving.

How­ever, if you don’t like the rev-match­ing func­tion, it can be switched off via the user set­tings.

It has a 1,380kg kerb weight, and is shod with huge ul­tra high-per­for­mance Con­ti­nen­tal SportCon­tact 6 tyres sized 245/30 wrapped around 20-inch berlina black al­loy wheels.

The Civic Type R also has a high per­for­mance Brembo brake pack­age to man­age its prodi­gious power.

It is note­wor­thy that the Civic Type R is pro­duced in Swin­don, Eng­land – the global man­u­fac­tur­ing hub for the 10th-gen­er­a­tion Civic hatch­back.

The 2.0-litre tur­bocharged en­gine, how­ever, is made by Honda of Amer­ica Man­u­fac­tur­ing at its Anna, Ohio en­gine plant and shipped to Eng­land.

Mus­cu­lar and ath­letic de­sign

The new Civic Type R is 165mm longer, 36mm lower and 2mm wider than the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion model.

The low and wide pro­por­tions un­der­pin the dis­tinc­tive de­sign and clas­sic hot hatch styling cues.

The aero­dy­namic body has a best-in­class bal­ance between lift and drag, which im­proves high-speed sta­bil­ity.

Like all Type R

mod­els be­fore it, the nose is adorned with Honda’s fa­mous red “H” badge.

A sub­stan­tial car­bon fi­bre ef­fect dif­fuser runs be­low the wider rear bumper, which frames three tailpipes.

This three tail-pipe de­sign is eye-catch­ing but it isn’t for show; the smaller cen­tre tailpipe con­trol noise lev­els as it acts as an­other ex­haust out­flow, with a more ag­gres­sive tone pro­duced un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion.

How­ever, at mid-load en­gine speed, the pres­sure in the cen­tre tailpipe be­comes neg­a­tive, suck­ing in am­bi­ent air.

This elim­i­nates the ex­haust boom­ing sound in the pas­sen­ger cabin and re­sults in a less noisy cabin at cruis­ing speeds.

High-speed sta­bil­ity

With a mon­strous 400Nm of torque on the Civic Type R, Honda en­gi­neers came up with an ad­vanced dual-axis strut front suspension to re­duce torque steer where un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion, a front-wheel drive car has a ten­dency to pull to one side.

It uses a front MacPher­son strut suspension, and a new rear multi-link setup for im­proved high­speed sta­bil­ity.

For ex­cep­tional road hold­ing, there’s a re­vised four-wheel adap­tive damper sys­tem which is used in the “Com­fort”, ag­ile “Sport” and track-fo­cused “+R” drive modes of the car.

Each drive mode changes the adap­tive dampers, steer­ing force, gear shift feel and throt­tle re­sponse of the car.

Sport mode re­mains the de­fault set­ting when start­ing the ve­hi­cle.

The +R mode re­mains the choice for track driv­ing.

En­gine re­spon­sive­ness is height­ened, with the torque-map­ping changed to a more ag­gres­sive and per­for­mance-fo­cused con­fig­u­ra­tion, al­low­ing more of the avail­able torque at lower en­gine speeds.

The throt­tle ‘blip­ping’ ef­fect from the rev-match­ing func­tion is also en­hanced.

Prac­ti­cal daily us­age

Although the true home of a Civic Type R is on a race track, it does not mean that the car is not built for daily ur­ban com­mut­ing.

It has a 2,699mm wheel­base, and the spa­cious sports-themed cabin fea­tures sport seats cov­ered in strik­ing suede-ef­fect red and black fabric.

We found ad­e­quate leg and head room for 1.7m tall peo­ple, in­te­rior trim unique to the Civic Type R in­clude a steer­ing wheel with red leather in­serts and hexag­o­nal stitch­ing, and a spher­i­cal gear lever knob made from ma­chined al­loy.

There are one touch pow­ered up/down win­dows, an elec­tric park­ing brake and ISOFIX points for child seats.

In­te­rior stor­age op­tions in­clude cup hold­ers in the lower cen­tre con­sole, a deep cen­tre box with an arm rest, and bins to store wa­ter bot­tles on all four doors.

There’s a seven-inch Honda Con­nect colour touch-screen dis­play for in­fo­tain­ment and cli­mate con­trol, mated to a re­verse cam­era.

You will find a de­cent 414-litre boot, with a side-slid­ing and re­move­able ton­neau cover.

Rear seats split or fold 60:40, and a low sill height and wide boot open­ing al­low easy load­ing of wide and long items.

The test drive units in Dres­den were the higher-spec­i­fi­ca­tion GT model, which gets ex­tra kit such as Blind Spot In­for­ma­tion in­clud­ing Cross Traf­fic Mon­i­tor, du­al­zone cli­mate con­trol, auto-dim­ming rear view mir­ror, Honda Con­nect with Garmin Nav­i­ga­tion, a wire­less charg­ing pad, 542-watt 12-speaker au­dio sys­tem and LED front fog lights.

Driv­ing in Dres­den

The Civic Type R fea­tures a dual pin­ion vari­able-ra­tio elec­tric power steer­ing, and drive-by-wire throt­tle.

We took the car for a few laps on the Lausitzring race track, and this is where the Civic Type R truly shines.

On the long straight stretch, you can hit speeds of more than 200kph, and when we at­tacked the twists and turns on the track, the Civic Type R feels very planted un­der hard cor­ner­ing.

How­ever, the elec­tric power steer­ing is not very com­mu­nica­tive although it is very re­spon­sive and pre­cise.

The man­ual stick has a short­throw shift and closely spaced ra­tios; this took a bit of get­ting used to, and we took a cau­tious ap­proach to gear shift­ing in our ini­tial ses­sions with the car.

On the un­even and bumpy coun­try­side roads around Dres­den, ride qual­ity is com­pli­ant; not too harsh or jar­ring – this is quite an achieve­ment when you con­sider its low pro­file tyres and sporty suspension.

On the high­way, par­tic­u­larly on the stretches with no speed limit, the Civic Type R shows what a speed freak it is, es­pe­cially on the long straight sec­tions.

A he­li­cal lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial (LSD) is fit­ted for bet­ter cor­ner­ing trac­tion, even dur­ing hard driv­ing, and this was some­thing we re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated when we drove the car hard at Lausitzring and the Ger­man Au­to­bahn.

Highly-skilled driv­ers will def­i­nitely en­joy the blis­ter­ing per­for­mance of the Civic Type R, while am­a­teurs will find the car quite

for­giv­ing.

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