2018 Honda Civic Type R

The Show Stealer

Automobile - - All - Stars 2018 -

The Honda Civic Type R sets an as­ton­ish­ingly high bench­mark in the per­for­mance-per-dol­lar cat­e­gory, and it eas­ily stole many hearts and minds at this year’s All-Stars shootout.

In my ex­pe­ri­ence com­ing from the rac­ing side of the au­to­mo­tive busi­ness, it is not nor­mal to find a gag­gle of jour­nal­ists wax­ing lyri­cal about a ve­hi­cle that costs less than $35,000, es­pe­cially when they have ac­cess to a bucket full of su­per­car keys and the green light on a race­track. Prov­ing the point: Out of the 26 ve­hi­cles at this year’s All-Stars event, the Type R was the only one picked by ev­ery sin­gle con­trib­u­tor as part of their top-10 list. St. An­toine con­firmed, “Hands-down the No. 1 All-Star at this con­test.” On­line edi­tor Ed Ta­haney added, “A real-deal, six-speed pocket rocket and a se­ri­ous bar­gain.”

No sur­prise, the Type R’s styling in­spires peo­ple to pas­sion­ately join war­ring camps. De­sign guru Cum­ber­ford cri­tiqued it as “the per­fect daily driver for an en­thu­si­ast, a truly ex­cel­lent, pleas­ingly fast, good-han­dling car spoiled by its ex­te­rior.” Re­hbock coun­tered, “You’ll for­get about the goofy looks, which I’ve come to love, the minute you step on the pedal, bang through the ex­cel­lent man­ual trans­mis­sion, or tear through a corner.” A prag­matic re­tort from Ta­haney said, “To­tal All-Star! Get over the looks al­ready.” From my per­spec­tive, I don’t hear many neg­a­tive opin­ions ex­pressed about the ar­guably silly-for-the-street, winged ap­pear­ance of a Porsche 911

GT3 RS or a Mercedes-AMG GT R. Ap­par­ently the Type R’s World Tour­ing Car looks don’t rate highly. Maybe if Honda charged $150,000 for it, some folks might like it bet­ter.

Move past that de­bate, though, and there was uni­ver­sal agree­ment about any­thing as­so­ci­ated with the Type R’s per­for­mance. The Honda-de­vel­oped seats are very com­fort­able and sup­port­ive for ev­ery­day street driv­ing and track use.

The steer­ing wheel and ped­als are wellplaced, pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lent us­abil­ity. Seat ad­just­ment is man­ual; we had no is­sues find­ing a per­fect driv­ing po­si­tion.

The en­gine pulls hard enough to make you think this Civic has more than 306 horse­power. Amaz­ingly, it ex­hibits zero torque steer un­der full ac­cel­er­a­tion, thanks to its bril­liant dual-axis strut sus­pen­sion up front. The en­gine/ in­duc­tion/turbo sound in­side the cabin is most pleas­ing in Race mode, but even then it’s still pretty quiet and not as racysound­ing as, say, the Ford Fo­cus RS.

The brakes are su­perb and ex­hib­ited no fade while lap­ping at full-tilt speeds in the process of try­ing (and man­ag­ing) to lose a well-driven 603-horse­power Mercedes-AMG E63 S. Talk about an over­achiever. The Type R’s han­dling is so well-sorted that I’m not sure I’ve ever driven a bet­ter-han­dling street car on a track right out of the box, not count­ing far more ex­otic mod­els that usu­ally have a start­ing price four to five times greater than the Honda’s.

The six-speed man­ual gear­box is bril­liant. The shift gates are spaced per­fectly, and it’s easy to shift ridicu­lously fast. I only heard praises for this won­der­ful trans­mis­sion from our judges at All-Stars, and not a sin­gle grind was heard on street or track.

I used the most com­fort­able set­tings most of the time while driv­ing on the road. This nicely soft­ens the sus­pen­sion and the throt­tle re­sponse, ef­fec­tively turn­ing the R into a com­pli­ant and eco­nom­i­cal daily com­muter. (I saw bet­ter than 34 mpg dur­ing one 90-minute run.) Wasef summed it up best, prais­ing “a de­light­fully revvy pow­er­plant, nim­ble han­dling that be­lies its front-drive con­fig­u­ra­tion, and a driver-fo­cused de­meanor that begs for apex hunt­ing.”

When it comes to real-world per­for­mance on to­day’s roads, the Type R de­liv­ers about as much fun as we would ever want or can rea­son­ably use. On a track, the R will ably punch above its weight, and it’s no stretch to put it in the same driver-sat­is­fac­tion cat­e­gory as the Porsche 718 Cay­man S, a ma­jor com­pli­ment. The Honda Civic Type R is a prac­ti­cal rocket ship, an in­cred­i­ble value, and a most wor­thy All-Star. AM

BY ANDY PIL­GRIM

PRICE: $34,775/$34,775 (base/as tested) EN­GINE: 2.0L DOHC 16-valve turbo I-4/306 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm TRANS­MIS­SION: 6-speed man­ual LAY­OUT: 4-door, 4-pas­sen­ger, front-en­gine, FWD hatch­back EPA MILEAGE: 22/28 mpg (city/hwy) L x W x...

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