HONDA CIVIC TYPE-R

Punch­ing above its weight

Driven - - Contents -

NOT TO TRY AND CONSTRUE THE SCRIPT OF SPEEDY-CAR FRAN­CHISE, THE FAST & FU­RI­OUS FOR THE PUR­POSES OF THIS AR­TI­CLE, BUT LIFE WITH THE HONDA CIVIC TYPE-R, IS MEA­SURED IN SEC­ONDS RECK­ONS DEON VAN DER WALT.

We had it on test for around 604,800 sec­onds, while it took only 5.8 of those pre­cious sec­onds for the Type-R to ac­cel­er­ate from zero to 100 km/h. And now, read­ing back that state­ment, 5.8 sec­onds seems to be an eter­nity com­pared to how sav­agely fast it felt.

Don’t, how­ever, dis­miss this car as just one of those rea­son­ably hot hatch­backs that come around ev­ery so of­ten. See, the Honda Civic Type R is the most pow­er­ful front-wheel-drive pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cle in the world. In fact, it is so pow­er­ful that at the time of writ­ing this ar­ti­cle, the near­est front-wheel con­tender, namely the Ford Fo­cus ST, weighed in at 184 kW. While that is an im­pos­ing fig­ure, it is down on its prover­bial knees by 44 kW, com­pared to the 228-kilo­watt sav­agery that the Type-R pro­duces.

Still, that’s only num­bers, and num­bers are for­giv­ing. How about a prac­ti­cal ex­am­ple of its per­for­mance prow­ess? The Civic, in all its bad-man­nered an­tics, lapped the Nür­bur­gring in a time of 7:43.8, shat­ter­ing the ex­ist­ing record set by the Volk­swa­gen Golf GTI Club­sport by nearly six sec­onds. Trans­la­tion: on a rac­ing track, al­beit a near21 km loop, that is an eter­nity.

COR­NER­ING MIS­SILE

And speak­ing of ‘the Ring’, driv­ing the Type-R you get the idea that it was de­vel­oped just to blis­ter through chi­canes rather than cart­ing gro­ceries around. While that is not a bad thing, by any mea­sure, it is dif­fer­ent from the norm. Let me ex­plain: while most per­for­mance hatch­backs are de­rived from their mild-man­nered sib­lings by adding a few go-faster com­po­nents, the Type-R gives you the sense that Honda wanted to build a Franken-mon­ster from the get-go.

It attacks cor­ners with the tenac­ity of a brain-dam­aged honey bad­ger, thanks to the trac­tion pro­vided by the com­bi­na­tion of 20” wheels and a he­li­cal limited-slip dif­fer­en­tial, that en­sures both the front wheels can spin at dif­fer­ent speeds while it also dis­trib­utes power to the wheel that of­fers the most trac­tion. In turn, this dra­mat­i­cally re­duces un­der­steer.

This lu­nacy is not only re­served for cor­ners, though. Nudge the ac­cel­er­a­tor down­wards, and it shoves you into the red body-hug­ging Type-R seats, at which point it is still in its de­fault ‘sport’ mode. But, flick the drive-mode switch up­wards, and into R-mode, and the car’s dy­nam­ics changes in an in­stant.

You feel the right pedal tin­gle un­der­foot as the car be­comes en­raged. The in­stru­ment bin­na­cle turns red, and you must bring your A-game as you slot the me­chan­i­cal chink­ing gear­box into each cog, all the while en­dur­ing a mock­ing chip­per from the front wheels. And just like that, quicker than you were prob­a­bly able to read that state­ment, it reaches the ap­pli­ca­ble speed limit.

AN­GRY CI­VIL­ITY

De­spite what the ag­gres­sive styling — where ev­ery crevice serves a pur­pose — will have you be­lieve, it can ac­tu­ally set­tle down. To a de­gree. While you’ll bear a strong re­sem­blance to a bob­ble­head on a rough sur­face, thanks to the low pro­file tyres and sports sus­pen­sion, the man­ual gear­box pro­vides a de­cent over­all level of con­trol.

That means, while it will feel more at home aiming for the apexes on a track, it is not at all bad on the last-minute milk-run. Yes, the Civic Type-R doesn’t have the air of ci­vil­ity of say, the Golf R, but the fact that it’s only avail­able with a man­ual gear­box means that you can re­move all the go-faster bits like the seats, the red safety belts, and those flam­boy­ant Brembo brake cal­lipers, and it still doesn’t feel all that dif­fer­ent at the core than a more civil­ian hatch­back. It doesn’t even growl or shriek, de­spite what that three ex­haust or­gan mus­kets will have you think.

LAST WORD

It doesn’t hap­pen ev­ery day that some­thing like the Honda Civic Type-R comes along. Sure, there are quicker hatch­backs out there, all of which, it must be said, are en­dowed with smart all-wheel-drive sys­tems and gear­boxes that have more logic than a math­e­mat­ics the­sis. But, as a driver’s car where elec­tronic in­ter­fer­ence plays sec­ond fid­dle to driv­ing en­joy­ment, the Civic won’t likely be topped.

We had the Civic on test for more than 600,000 sec­onds, but it barely took a sec­ond be­hind the wheel to fall hope­lessly in love with this an­gu­lar track at­tacker that fea­tures num­ber-plates.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.