Just my Type

Ex­hil­a­rat­ing to drive, and ar­rest­ing to look at, if you’re into that sort of crazily spoil­ered thing. By Cur­tis Moldrich

CAR (UK) - - Our Cars -

THE DAY I’VE been dread­ing has come. It’s time to say good­bye to the Civic Type R. Over the last seven months I’ve got to know Honda’s hy­per-hatch ex­tremely well, and in some ways it’s ev­ery­thing I ex­pected. In oth­ers it’s been a rev­e­la­tion.

First, the looks. From its anime-like front end, to those flared arches and that pos­i­tively aero­nau­tic rear wing, the Type R is su­per­car drama in a hot-hatch body. More than a year after launch, the dra­matic styling of the Honda hasn’t lost any punch: it’s still one of the most ar­rest­ing cars on the road.

Lined up against other hot hatches such as the Ford Fo­cus RS and the VW Golf R, only the new Re­nault Megane RS matches the Honda for sheer op­ti­cal im­pact. It’s spe­cial be­cause it’s rare too: I’ve only seen a hand­ful on the road, com­pared to about 45,000 Golf Rs in Peter­bor­ough ser­vices alone.

Un­like its styling, the raw per­for­mance and ca­pa­bil­ity of the Honda isn’t re­motely sub­jec­tive. After get­ting the Honda back from its sched­uled ser­vice this month (the £850 bill in­cludes two £250 front tyres, one re­paired al­loy and the usual bits) I de­cided to get the most out of my new tyres, and give it a thor­ough shake­down. Even after seven months of driv­ing, the Type R’s pointto-point pace is still an eye-opener. First thing you no­tice is just how heavy the steer­ing is: wrestling the Type R in +R mode ac­tu­ally works your fore­arms, but it feels much more re­as­sur­ing than Ford’s light-but-pre­cise Fo­cus RS steer­ing, for ex­am­ple. Its stop­pers are ahead of any­thing com­pa­ra­ble too, feed­ing back more in­for­ma­tion at ev­ery stage of brak­ing, and it’s far faster than the (cheaper) Hyundai i30N.

Even com­pared to su­per­cars like the Audi R8, there’s some­thing about the Civic Type R that is in­her­ently more alive, en­gag­ing and re­spon­sive – only the Porsche 911 GT3 has the same ‘fin­ger­tip feel’ to me. And I can’t for­get the Honda’s gear-


box; a man­ual trans­mis­sion ex­e­cuted so per­fectly it was left vir­tu­ally un­touched be­tween this Type R and the last. The short-throw six-speed ’box is still a bench­mark, with ra­tios close enough to keep you busy, but long enough for sixth to be eco­nom­i­cal on the mo­tor­way. If you want to be flat­tered, the Honda will au­to­mat­i­cally rev-match on down­shifts, though you can heel-and-toe man­u­ally if you’d pre­fer.

As for the en­gine, it’s a beast. It’s easy to see why Ariel has nabbed it for its lat­est Atom. It’ll pull in all gears, and al­though it doesn’t have the more var­ied sound­track of some other hot hatches, it does have its own unique note, punc­tu­ated by sharp waste­gate hiss. The only slight an­noy­ance? With this much power chan­nelled through one axle, wheel­spin can be an is­sue in the wet – but would you rather carry the weight of a four­wheel-drive sys­tem?

Along­side its speed, the Type R’s se­cret strength is just how ‘bor­ing’ it can be (from the in­side, any­way). In Com­fort mode, you’re thank­ful for fea­tures such as adap­tive cruise con­trol. And on many jour­neys I’ve only scratched the sur­face of the 300bhp-plus. Per­haps that’s why it has av­er­aged more than 30mpg, a fig­ure I’m both proud and ashamed of.

So, it’s a car that some­how strikes a bal­ance be­tween bois­ter­ous per­for­mance and mun­dane prac­ti­cal­ity. It can hound su­per­cars on twisty roads but is equally at home in su­per­mar­ket car parks. It’ll al­ways look like a Trans­former, but for me that’s an­other pos­i­tive. Even after driv­ing the ma­jor­ity of the com­pe­ti­tion, it re­mains the hot hatch I’d spend my own money on.


HONDA CIVIC TYPE R GT Price £32,995 As tested £32,995 En­gine 1996cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 316bhp @ 6500rpm, 295lb ft @ 2500rpm

Trans­mis­sion 6-speed man­ual, fron­twheel drive Per­for­mance 5.8sec 0„62mph, 169mph, 176g/km CO2 Miles this month 1379 To­tal 11,080 Our mpg 30.8 Oicial mpg 36.7 Fuel

this month £295.62 Ex­tra costs £850 (ser­vice, tyres and wheel re­furb)

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