Type R puts Honda back on interesting track
We know the Type R is brilliant on-track. But it’s also a talented road car in some surprising ways, says
technology you’d want, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and Honda’s clever Lanewatch camera, which shows you the left-hand side of the car on the centre screen when you indicate. The infotainment and instrumentation controls are infuriatingly fiddly, but that’s true of all Civics – and you do get Android/apple phone projection, which simplifies things somewhat.
Yes, there are all kinds of reasons why you wouldn’t want to drive the leery Type to work, but overall comfort isn’t one of them.
It’s easy to make a leerylooking hatch that’s easy to drive into town. It’s incredibly challenging to make that same car a driver-focused star in hard road and track use.
And that’s the true genius of the Type R. We’ve already done the track bit – at Hampton Downs,during Honda New Zealand’s media launch for the car earlier this year. It was brilliant, but a brilliant car ontrack doesn’t always make for a satisfying road car.
Again, mission-accomplished. Even when you dial it up to R-mode (the third and most aggressive setting) on-road, this is still is a composed and satisfying hot-hatch over demanding Kiwi tarmac. It’s not crazy-fast (0-100kmh 5.7 seconds) but in terms of A-to-b ability it’s a stunner.
If you’re a hot-hatch purist then FWD is the only way to go. But 228kw is a ridiculous amount of power for that format. The Type R handles it with a special dualaxis front-suspension design, limited-slip differential and clever traction control that can nibble away at the inside wheel to keep the car powering away in the right direction.
It feels nimble, although it doesn’t dance from understeer to oversteer at the tweak of the throttle like some powerful frontdrivers. It’s more settled and sorted than that, so there are very few scary moments even in extremis. It just does everything right – even the things that you can’t do yourself, like automatically giving you an expert heel-and-toe-style downshift with the manual gearbox via the rev-matching function.
So the Civic Type R really is like a super-suit. You can be mildmannered during the day, but when required it’s the kind of car that allows ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Pretty it ain’t. The aero is functional, but we’re not sure Type R had to look quite so outrageous.