What is it?
The Civic Type R is essentially an outlet for all the talented engineers at Honda who spend their days working out how to eek an extra mpg from the Jazz or how to get more dogs in the back of a CR-V.
All that pent up frustration and desire to make a sports car manifests itself, every few years, in a hot hatch.
This time the going must have been really tough though, because they’ve gone absolutely bonkers.
Power output is up, over 100bhp, from the old model. The new car is also more aggressively styled than ever before and better to drive.
How fast is it?
The 2.0-litre VTEC engine has been given a new lease of life with the addition a turbo, therefore it delivers a healthy 306bhp and for the first time in a Honda some torque… 295lb ft to be precise.
All told this means 0-60 mph takes 5.7 seconds and top speed is somewhere around 165mph.
For enthusiasts, the VTEC charm is not lost. Traditionally the high revving motors would jump into life at around 4000rpm and this car is no different. However, you get the benefit of both the VTEC and the Turbo which gives an almighty surge of power, thrusting the rev counter straight into the red zone.
What’s it like to drive?
The previous Type R got a bit of stick for having torsion beam rear suspension. That might not mean much to a lot of people but let’s put it in perspective. Torsion beam is essentially a bar that joins the rear wheels together and twists to soak up the bumps – not very ground breaking.
In 1999 Ford Launched the Focus with proper coil springs all round and pretty much set the benchmark for handling from that point.
With the new Type R it’s business as usual, but a clever limited slip diff up front and tweaks to the setup mean the new car actually works…. It’s not half bad.
Turn into a corner and plant the accelerator, you feel the grip building. The more you press on, the tighter the car turns. It’s addictive.
To make the car even more hardcore, the +R button on the dash will engage track weapon mode, stiffening things up and sharpening the throttle response.
The car isn’t super-nimble, but it certainly carries some speed. In fact I’d say the Type R really is all about speed – no wonder it can lap the Nurburgring in 7m50s.
Could you live with it?
Okay so under the skin it’s ‘just a Civic’ so there a few compromises to adjust to. First up you can’t see the speedo when you drive, it’s an LCD screen mounted at the base of the windscreen directly in line with the top of the steering wheel.
Also, the rear boot lid design is ridiculous; all you see in the rear view mirror is a black bar.
But it is hugely practical. Because of its old school suspension setup being housed under the floor and not in the wheel well, the boot is massive. It’s also got ‘magic seats’ which fold flat to the floor giving a cavernous load space – enough for a set of alloys!
The spec is good too. There’s Garmin satnav, Bluetooth, keyless entry with push button start and fantastic LED headlights.
I even managed to get 42mpg on a run.
How about them looks?
The current Civic is a bit of a wet weekend to look at, it has tried to continue the cutting edge shape that the previous model shocked us all with – but times have changed and the edgy shapes just don’t cut it anymore.
But, like half of Essex the Type R has been on the protein shakes, taken a few steroids and gotten some tattoos.
It’s a rather spectacular thing to behold, there are fins and vents and bulges, plus the lower skirts are black, along with the alloys. It certainly stands out.
What else could you buy?
With a price of £29,995 the Civic isn’t cheap. It’s up there at Golf R territory – but then it delivers Golf R performance.
There is also the Leon Cupra 280, which is technically brilliant but perhaps a little on the unimaginative side – for starters you can’t have red seats.
Don’t forget about Ford either, although a Focus RS is more powerful it is also more expensive. The less exciting ST is cheaper but will be left behind at the lights.
Perhaps most pertinent is the upcoming replacement Civic Type R, expected some time next year. It uses an all new platform with a sleeker body and will have even more power.