Hot hatch high

After hav­ing the Honda Civic Type-R for a four-month test drive, serves up his end-of-term re­port

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kent Motors -

Sign­ing up for a long-ter­mer is the def­i­ni­tion of a mixed bless­ing. Sure, within the pa­ram­e­ters of re­al­ism you can run any car you like. The only trou­ble is, choose too well and the fi­nal han­dover can be worse than any other kind of long-term break-up.

The Civic Type-R was un­doubt­edly the most in­ter­est­ing hot hatch to turn up in 2015. Not only did it rep­re­sent a quan­tum leap from the out­go­ing FN2 ver­sion – 50% more power, re­mem­ber – it also proved that Honda wanted to take on the su­per hatches.

It was one of the least dis­creet cars I’ve ever had the plea­sure of driv­ing, and this is some­thing you’ll see ei­ther as a ma­jor plus point or a se­vere hin­drance. The arches are pumped out to ac­com­mo­date the wider track and the rear wing is large enough to pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant down­force.

Those looks, par­tic­u­larly fin­ished in white, at­tracted more at­ten­tion than some cars cost­ing three times as much. Opin­ion was also evenly split; some peo­ple thought it too brash and too showy, while others were vo­cal – to the point of swear­ing – in their praise.

Me? I sat firmly in the lat­ter camp. I never tired of how it looked and that it promised ex­cite­ment ev­ery time you walked up to it with key in hand. This, surely, is the whole point of a hot hatch.

There were some spec­tac­u­lar drives dur­ing my time with the Type-R; a cou­ple of gear changes, or if you were feel­ing re­ally lazy, a squeeze of throt­tle was all that was re­quired to ac­cess the mon­strous per­for­mance of that 2.0-litre turbo en­gine. It fizzed and buzzed with en­thu­si­asm, never seemed to be short of grunt.

And yet it was the fact that the Type-R re­mained so live­able de­spite all the per­for­mance avail­able that was equally im­pres­sive.

The street on which I live is in a shock­ingly poor state and, given that the Civic runs on rub­ber-band tyres and stiff sus­pen­sion, it still coped ad­mirably. Driven nor­mally, it barely cre­ated any more noise than a reg­u­lar Civic; wind and tyre noise faded away at sen­si­ble mo­tor­way speeds and the fiery en­gine was happy to

lope along at a lit­tle over 2,000rpm. Pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of the Type-R were praised as icons of the hot hatch seg­ment in their day and are prized and sought after even now. But to­day it is the cur­rent model that quite rightly de­fines what a mod­ern hot hatch should be: de­sir­able, spec­tac­u­lar, use­able and, most of all, damned good fun.

IN A NUT­SHELL Honda Civic Type-R Price: £29,995 En­gine: 2.0-litre unit pro­duc­ing 306bhp and 295lb/ft of torque Trans­mis­sion: Sixspeed man­ual gear­box driv­ing the front wheels Per­for­mance: Top speed 167mph, 0-62mph in 5.7 sec­onds Econ­omy: 38.7mpg com­bined Emis­sions: 170g/km of CO2

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