Our car of the mo­ment drops its bags at MO­TOR HQ

Motor (Australia) - - BACK SECTION -

OUR DOU­BLE Per­for­mance Car of the Year and Bang For Your Bucks cham­pion has found its way into the MO­TOR garage for the next six is­sues. Dur­ing this time, we will es­tab­lish whether or not the phe­nom­e­nal driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence the Honda Civic Type R of­fers, can be rec­on­ciled with some other, shall we say less than salu­bri­ous facets. In par­tic­u­lar, a very busily styled, very un­pop­u­lar ex­te­rior, and an in­te­rior that’s also a bit hit and miss. But for me per­son­ally, I will be try­ing to open my mind to the idea of own­ing a Honda at all. I’m not a Honda guy; my favourite all-time Honda is the S2000, a car that sits out on its own in Honda’s per­for­mance car history. A scream­ing, north-south atmo four in the front send­ing power via a bliss­ful six-speed man­ual and lim­ited slip dif­fer­en­tial to the rear wheels – noth­ing like it has worn a Honda badge since. As for other Honda per­for­mance roy­alty, I ap­pre­ci­ate the orig­i­nal NSX but don’t lust af­ter one, same for the DC2 In­te­gra Type R and EK Civic Type R. I only men­tion all this be­cause I know a lot of read­ers feel the same way. And so here I am, self-pro­fessed non-Honda per­son, with the keys to a front-drive hot hatch with a big, fat, red Honda badge on the front of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very, very happy about this. That’s largely be­cause when it comes to driv­ing very fast, it’s hard to talk about the Civic Type R with­out sound­ing like you’re an ex­ag­ger­at­ing lunatic. But there are true things about this car and the way it drives. The con­trols are a to­tal de­light to use, at any speed, and some of the best feel­ing of any new per­for­mance model. The han­dling, helped by the in­de­pen­dent rear end and spot-on adap­tive dampers, is sub­lime. The tur­bocharged 2.0litre en­gine is punchy, rea­son­ably

re­spon­sive and strong, with an ex­hil­a­rat­ing, fre­netic buzz about its up­per revs. A Torsen lim­ited slip dif­fer­en­tial is fairly ef­fec­tive at get­ting the not in­signif­i­cant 228kW/400Nm to the ground, with min­i­mal torque steer. And while it’ll get smoked by, say, a Ford Fo­cus RS with its launch con­trol and all-wheel drive to 100km/h, the smart money will see that at the end of 400m, the Type R is go­ing faster. It’s also a lot faster mid-cor­ner. In fact, we strug­gle to think of another mod­ern per­for­mance car, any­where, that does so much with such rel­a­tively mod­est rub­ber, the Type R ex­tract­ing ev­ery last ounce of pur­chase from its 245/30 ZR20 Con­ti­nen­tal SportCon­tact 6 tyres. The speed you can carry into cor­ners in the Type R is eye-open­ing. This partly ex­plains its blis­ter­ing 7:43.8sec Nur­bur­gring Nord­schleife lap­time, the fastest of any front-drive car ever, and one which knocks off a whole gen­er­a­tion of leg­endary ma­chines. Lam­borgh­ini Gallardo Su­per­leg­gera, 996 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, E46 BMW M3 CSL – all the hero cars of MO­TOR yesteryear – the Civic Type R would out­pace around the ’Ring. Gives you con­fused feel­ings, doesn’t it? Of course, de­spite that stag­ger­ingly tal­ented chas­sis, gi­ant-killing lap­time po­ten­tial and de­light­ful con­trols, per­fec­tion eludes the Type R. In just one week of driv­ing it, I have out­wardly shouted pro­fan­i­ties at its hor­ri­bly un­in­tu­itive, al­most de­lib­er­ately dif­fi­cult in­fo­tain­ment and trip com­puter in­ter­faces. I strongly re­sent that, for con­trol­ling the au­dio vol­ume, there is a weird, tac­tile-less touch­pad thing on the in­fo­tain­ment screen. The vol­ume knob did not need rein­ven­tion. Nor did hid­ing some of the most com­mon HVAC con­trols in a sub-menu of the cen­tre­screen. I can only hope that with time, these are things I’ll get used to. While I’m moan­ing about this other­wise awe­some car, I need to ad­dress the flu­oro pink ele­phant quiv­er­ing be­hind the lamp­shade in the cor­ner of the room. Nor­mally at MO­TOR, we don’t rate a car’s styling; we rate how it drives, take the most flat­ter­ing photos pos­si­ble of it and leave how it looks up to you. But as this is a long-term test and the Type R’s styling has proven such a con­ver­sa­tion starter, I feel I can give my opin­ion. I’m still mak­ing up my mind. I think it looks tough from very spe­cific an­gles, but stray be­yond them and it can look very over­styled or just plain wrong. Some­times at a glance it looks like a Poke­mon on all fours, about to at­tack; at oth­ers, like its cheeks are all squashed up in an open-face hel­met. We’ll ex­plore the Type R’s styling more in a fu­ture up­date, but I do think it has some redeem­ing de­tails. I quite like the NACA duct on the bon­net. I don’t even mind the rear wing. Over the next six is­sues, we’ll see whether the Type R’s most off-putting at­tributes can be tol­er­ated for the epic drive on of­fer. And if an openly nonHonda guy can fall in love with one very tal­ented ugly duckling. – DC


One of the best an­gles of the Type R. Of those, there are few

01 ONE The Civic Type R is one car that’ll have you al­ways think­ing about the next drive, it’s that good

03 THREE Clas­sic bright red Type R seats are awe­some – sup­port­ive yet super com­fort­able, an in­te­rior high­light

02 TWO Steer­ing wheel is nice, and steer­ing it­self is sub­lime. Wheel-mounted cruise/au­dio con­trols noth­ing spe­cial

04 FOUR Another Type R sig­na­ture touch, at­trac­tive al­loy shift knob. Nice in the hand, a mag­net for am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture

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