Here we are, face to face with Honda’s leg­endary road-and-track spe­cial. Just be­ing in its pres­ence will make you do stupid shit


‘The Type R broke the In­ter­net when it was un­veiled in the Philip­pines’

The smooth con­crete of the the newly opened Petron sta­tion on NLEX Km44 north­bound is just beg­ging to be chris­tened by some burnt rub­ber. Or at least that’s what one of our com­pan­ions is think­ing. Peter, who is kind enough to come out and join us for this late-night shoot, has been hint­ing at pulling a few donuts for us. Not the best of ideas and I clearly dis­cour­age it—and even pre­tend not to hear him. But when the group least ex­pects it, he’s drift­ing his black Honda S2000, pil­ing on op­po­site lock and mak­ing its tires scream for mercy, the drop­top’s VTEC wail­ing into the night.

The gas boys are im­pressed. I’m cring­ing. In my mind I’m al­ready prac­tic­ing what to say to the po­lice when I’m asked why a TopGear Philip­pines cover shoot has turned into a gi­ant fire­ball with mul­ti­ple fa­tal­i­ties. But Peter has gen­uine skills and comes nowhere near the gaso­line pumps. And in a way, he’s some­what ex­cused for his shenani­gans be­cause, well, we set the stage for it.

Our concept is pretty sim­ple: a late-night hang­out at the friendly

neigh­bor­hood fuel sta­tion. That’s what car guys love to do on oc­ca­sion: Get to­gether to tam­bay­lang, shoot the breeze, brag a bit here and there, show off their rides, do some burnouts, and dis­ap­pear into the darkness for some ac­tual driv­ing. I won’t even spec­u­late about where they go and what they do to en­joy their ma­chines, but let’s just say dur­ing nights like this, it’s bring your best bakal, baby.

When a gen­uine Civic Type R pulls into the park­ing lot, all eyes will be on it for sure. These are the weapons of choice on the track and the drag strip, and when the whole car can’t be had (Honda Cars Philip­pines never sold the Type R in the past), the sur­plus en­gines and sus­pen­sion as­sem­blies of Type R Civics and In­te­gras can be eas­ily trans­planted into local EG and EK bod­ies. There’s a whole af­ter­mar­ket in­dus­try that re­volves around this mod­ern-day hot-rod­ding.

The all-new Type R is a dif­fer­ent story al­to­gether. This is the car that broke the In­ter­net a few months ago when it was un­veiled at the Manila In­ter­na­tional Auto Show, with the of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion that the local Honda sub­sidiary will sell it in limited num­bers. A road-going unit is fi­nally here in the metal for us to drive and drool over, and I blame the urge to hot­dog on what I’d like to call the ‘Type R ef­fect.’ Just be­ing around this au­to­mo­tive icon will bring out the dare­devil in you. San­ity, rea­son, and hu­mil­ity—all go fly­ing out the window like a cig­a­rette butt. And you aren’t even behind the steer­ing wheel yet.

All 100 Type R units bound for the Philip­pines through of­fi­cial

Honda chan­nels have al­ready been spoken for. Only two colors are avail­able (Cham­pi­onship White and Rally Red), and the price is a cool P2.98 mil­lion—which isn’t so shock­ing when you con­sider the badge cache and the kind of per­for­mance you’re get­ting.

Power from the tur­bocharged 2.0- liter VTEC mo­tor is pegged at 306hp at 6,500rpm. Peak torque is 400Nm— a fig­ure you’d ex­pect to

read in a brochure for a 4x4 pickup, not a Ja­panese sedan. The best part is that full con­trol through a six-speed man­ual gear­box is given to the lucky driv­ers who are for­tu­nate enough to bring a Type R home. It will even rev-match dur­ing down­shifts if the fea­ture is switched on.

This is nothing like Type Rs of the past. First, it’s huge; con­sider that the Ac­cord of the ’ 90s is dwarfed by the cur­rent Civic. Sec­ond, there’s the tur­bocharged mo­tor, the first of its kind to find it­self in the en­gine bay of a Type R. Power de­liv­ery is un­like that of the en­gines of old, but the per­for­mance is leagues ahead. Emis­sions, too, have vastly im­proved. Going turbo has solved the prob­lem that the older high-revving mo­tors had when pass­ing su­per-strict emis­sions stan­dards abroad.

I slide into the cock­pit and I’m greeted by a body-hug­ging bucket seat that is up­hol­stered in red and black. There’s what looks to be car­bon-fiber trim taste­fully in­ter­spersed with al­can­tara. Then there’s the cen­ter-mounted tachome­ter flanked by the tem­per­a­ture and fuel gauges. The cen­ter­piece has to be the ti­ta­nium shift lever, be­side the drive-mode se­lec­tor. Yasss. Man­ual is the way to go in a model with this kind of pedi­gree. A slush­box just wouldn’t feel right in a Type R.

I slot the shifter into gear. En­gage­ment is solid, the clutch requiring only min­i­mal ef­fort. Even with only a small sec­tion of road on which to play around, I can al­ready feel the ea­ger­ness of the tur­bocharged en­gine and the kind of re­sponse it will de­liver if given the chance to let loose. Steer­ing is equally quick, with a ra­tio suited for a ma­chine with this kind of po­ten­tial. You will get into trou­ble if you don’t tem­per your need for speed. Good thing the mas­sive cross-drilled ro­tors clamped by Brembo calipers can slow the action down in a hurry.

There’s an ob­vi­ous trape­zoidal de­sign theme going on, and it car­ries all the way to the ex­te­rior. Ad­mit­tedly, the Type R looks way too wild in pho­tos, but trust me when I say that in the metal, ev­ery an­gle makes sense. Ev­ery in­take is func­tional, as is the rear wing. No doubt the car was penned to be a show-stop­per and in­tim­ida­tor out on the streets, be­cause it ain’t all about show. It can go, too.

Honda’s high-per­for­mance en­try will be going up against the

es­tab­lished Euro­pean sports sedans, but there’s the al­lure of a model that is as JDM as a steam­ing bowl of ra­men. There’s some­thing very iconic about the red badge, ac­com­pa­nied by the red in­te­rior and the red valve cover. Be­sides, our mar­ket has a gen­uine affin­ity for the Type R badge. You only have to scope out the local car com­mu­nity to wit­ness it first­hand.

To our knowl­edge, the Civic Type R is the only one in the cur­rent lineup that holds this dis­tinc­tion and honor—at least un­til the NSX Type R comes along. But un­til then, this souped-up-from-the-fac­tory Civic holds the red ban­ner proudly. Awe­some that we get to spend the night with it.

Our com­pan­ions who al­ready drive awe­some JDM metal in the form of S2000s are just as im­pressed as we are. In fact, Peter is prob­a­bly al­ready tak­ing de­liv­ery of a unit as this is­sue goes to print. More than any­thing, the local ar­rival of the Type R only proves that the Philip­pine car mar­ket is well on its way to ma­tur­ing. This is a great time to be an au­to­mo­tive en­thu­si­ast. All the cool toys are be­ing made avail­able lo­cally, and that only means our econ­omy is do­ing well.

With the re­vised ex­cise tax loom­ing on the hori­zon, however, there will surely be a change in the overall mood. Own­ers of the Type R won’t give a damn, though. The Type R Ef­fect will be full-blown when you’re fi­nally behind the wheel of the JDM icon. Nothing else will mat­ter, re­ally. Just leave ev­ery­thing—the Philip­pine tax sit­u­a­tion in­cluded—in the dust.

We’d do the same if this was our ride. No doubt about it

brembo stop­pers are hid­ing behind the hand­some 20in rims

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