For some, the Honda Civic Type R is the king of the hot hatches. Dar­ren Cassey checks out the lat­est model

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE BY DAR­REN CASSEY

WHAT’S NEW? This is the new Honda Civic Type R – it has huge shoes to fill and marks a change in tac­tic by Honda. You see, nor­mally when a new Civic is built, the Type R team can’t get started un­til the car is fin­ished and on dealer fore­courts, but this time the stan­dard car and hot ver­sion have been built in tan­dem.

The last Civic Type R was made in pretty low num­bers and had a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing rapid and un­for­giv­ing. For this ver­sion, Honda wanted it to be more ap­proach­able, so the ride has been soft­ened off and an ex­tra ‘com­fort’ driv­ing mode in­tro­duced along­side the stan­dard ‘sport’ and per­for­mance-fo­cused +R.

There’s a whole host of new tech too, such as clever en­gine cool­ing, im­proved aero­dy­nam­ics and re­vised sus­pen­sion. And the fuel tank has been moved so you sit lower in the car than be­fore, which is fan­tas­tic news.

Honda wants the Type R to go more main­stream. Sev­enty-five will be built ev­ery day at its Swin­don plant, with 13,000 ex­pected to be built for the world mar­ket over the next 12 months.


The Civic Type R’s styling is sure to di­vide opin­ion. The bru­tal, an­gu­lar de­sign of the stan­dard car is am­pli­fied by the hot ver­sion’s func­tional aero­dy­nam­ics – the front split­ter, vor­tex gen­er­a­tors on the roof and that prom­i­nent rear wing are cer­tainly eye-catch­ing.

In­side, the dash­board de­sign is fairly unin­spir­ing and doesn’t quite have the vis­ual drama of the ex­te­rior. The plas­tics are fairly cheap but durable, while the sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able bucket seats add a wel­come touch of sporti­ness.


The lat­est Civic is longer and wider than ever be­fore, and thanks to a repo­si­tioned fuel tank, one of the big­gest com­plaints

of its pre­de­ces­sor has been ad­dressed – the driv­ing po­si­tion. Not only do you sit lower in the car, the in­creased wheel­base im­proves cabin space and fur­thers the Type R’s case as a prac­ti­cal per­for­mance car.

There are plenty of cub­by­holes, with the cen­tre con­sole fea­tur­ing two large, stag­gered spa­ces in which to store items. How­ever, the USB and 12V adapter slots are im­prac­ti­cally placed low down.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL Un­der ev­ery ob­jec­tive mea­sure, the new Civic Type R is bet­ter than the old one. In fact, it’s come on leaps and bounds, feel­ing much more grown up and se­ri­ous about the job of go­ing silly-fast.

How­ever, its char­ac­ter has some­what changed. The old model felt like it was strain­ing at the leash even when pootling around town, but the new one is much more ap­proach­able even in the track-fo­cused +R mode and is far less likely to be un­set­tled by bumps in the road.

Flick the drive mode se­lec­tor to this sporti­est set­ting and throt­tle re­sponse is im­proved, the steer­ing be­comes heav­ier – a lit­tle too heavy at slow speeds – and the ride firms up. On the road, the stan­dard sport set­ting is enough, but +R mode trans­forms the Type R into a hy­per-alert hot hatch and it’s hard to re­sist its sense of ur­gency.

On track it’s lu­di­crously ca­pa­ble thanks also to the 10mm wider and stick­ier tyres, but it never feels in­tim­i­dat­ing. This ar­guably makes it slightly less fun, but there’s no doubt it cov­ers ground much more quickly and with lit­tle fuss.

VALUE FOR MONEY The go­ing rate for high-per­for­mance hot hatches is circa £30,000, and the Civic Type R hits the nail on the head. It starts at £30,995, with the high-spec GT trim cost­ing £2,000 ex­tra. This puts it in di­rect com­pe­ti­tion with the Ford Fo­cus RS, which is hugely ap­peal­ing thanks to a clever rear-bi­ased all-wheeldrive sys­tem, sub­tler styling and 345bhp, though there’s slightly less kit as stan­dard.

Most im­pres­sive is the Honda Sens­ing safety sys­tem, which comes as stan­dard. Radars, sen­sors and cam­eras work to­gether to of­fer col­li­sion avoid­ance, road de­par­ture mit­i­ga­tion and adap­tive cruise con­trol to name but a few of its nifty fea­tures.

Opt for the pricier Gt-spec model and you’ll get dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, a wire­less charg­ing pad, LED front fog lights and more.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE? The hot hatch de­mo­graphic is typ­i­cally quite young, but the Type R in par­tic­u­lar will ap­peal to an even younger au­di­ence be­cause of its ex­tro­vert styling and gen­eral char­ac­ter. The hot hatch has been hugely pop­u­lar in the UK as a per­for­mance car that can be used ev­ery day – the old Type R’s harsh ride made it hard to jus­tify in that re­gard, but this lat­est model could gen­uinely be used in day-to-day life with very lit­tle com­pro­mise.

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