Type R puts Honda back on in­ter­est­ing track

South Waikato News - - Motoring -

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.

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