Just my Type
Exhilarating to drive, and arresting to look at, if you’re into that sort of crazily spoilered thing. By Curtis Moldrich
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 062mph, 169mph, 176g/km CO2 Miles this month 1379 Total 11,080 Our mpg 30.8 Oicial mpg 36.7 Fuel
this month £295.62 Extra costs £850 (service, tyres and wheel refurb)