This is the new Honda Civic Type R. And even though it only came out around two years after the last one went on sale, this car is quite different from the one it replaced. It’s lower, stiffer and it now features a multi-link rear axle. Unlike the torsion beam of the old car.
And all of these aero bits you see around the car, including that massive wing at the back, Honda claim that they actually develop downforce. But even if that’s not true, who cares, because just look at it. Come on, admit it, the 6 years old in you is screaming with joy.
Fastest front-wheel drive car on the Nurburgring
7:43.8. This is the Nurburgring lap record for FWD production cars. And the car holding that record is this: the 2018 Honda Civic Type R. And despite that this is one of the most comfortable hot hatches I’ve ever driven.
Yup, I repeat, a Honda Type R’s suspension is comfortable. It’s also very refined in the way it handles bumps in the road and to be honest it much more comfortable than my M2 will ever be. I’m not sure if this change is all down to the multilink suspension in the back but it makes the car so much more usable in day to day living.
But first, a bit of history.
The first Honda Civic Type R was born in 1997, it featured a 1.6l four cylinder engine producing 183hp and it featured an 8200rpm redline. Obviously being a Type R it also got red seats, a leather wrapped steering wheel and a titanium shift knob. Sound familiar? The year 2001 brought the second generation Civic Type R and judging by its massive following, I’d say it’s probably the most loved out of the bunch. It had a 2l VTEC engine, 197hp, a stiffer chassis and it just loved to lift it’s rear wheel up in the air while cornering.
Then we had the third generation. It was bigger and heavier than the car it replaced but it only had 1 extra horsepower to compensate. And finally, in 2015 we’ve had the fourth generation. The first ever turbocharged Honda Civic Type R that featured an impressive 2l 310hp engine. But for some reason it only stayed on sale for two years.
So Honda was in a hurry to introduce this new, 5th generation car. So why don’t we have a closer look at it then, to see what it’s all about?
The car has three driving modes.
Comfort, Sport and R+ and quite surprisingly changing from one to another really makes a difference. One cool detail is the fact that the cars starts up in Sport by default. How cool is that.
Unfortunately you don’t have an Individual mode where you can setup the car exactly the way you want it, but it’s pretty well setup out of the box by Honda themselves.
Upfront we have a 2l turbocharged 4 cylinder VTEC until. 320hp, 400Nm and a 0 to 100km/h acceleration time of 5.8s. It’s not as fast as it may seem when reading the specs, it’s 1s slower to 100km/h than a Golf R, that has 10 less hp than this one, but that’s not what the Civic Type R is all about. Oh no.
This car is all about stimulating the senses, it’s about involvement in the driving experience, it’s all about you, the person behind the wheel and how it makes you feel.
Feels just like a bigger go-cart.
No joke. It feels like it’s on rails, it’s so planted on the road. Seats hold you firmly in place thanks to those huge side bolsters, steering is hard and direct and even the pedals feel just like in a go-kart.
They feel firm when you press them and that allows you to be more precise when operating them. I especially love the feel of the brake pedal, it quite race-car like, it doesn’t have a lot of travel and it’s very progressive. Love it!
Steering is perfection. It’s much harder than in any other hot hatch I’ve ever driver and it’s weightier than what I have in my M2. It requires a bit of effort to turn the wheel in R+ mode but it’s so rewarding because the car reacts instantly to your inputs. It’s fantastic. The only other car that I drove that had this great of a steering response, and I’m not even joking here, was a Ferrari 458.
Then there’s the gearbox. My favourite part about this car. It’s exceptional.
It’s got a short throw, it’s smooth but it’s also very precise. And it’s got a lovely mechanical feel to it. When changing gear it’s almost like you feel the cogs move inside the gearbox. It’s like you’re changing gears yourself and not just moving a shifter from one place to another. It’s simply stunning and it works flawlessly both in every day traffic and on twisty b-roads like this one.
Engine has the unmistakable Honda sound. I can’t really describe it to you better but it’s distinct. Even though the engine is a 2l four pot, like most hot hatches have, you can tell from a miles away that it’s a type R. It’s a bit laggy at low rpms but take it above 2500 and it it’s exceptional. Throttle response is instant and torque delivery is really smooth.
Unfortunately this car is not that loud.
Even though it has three exhaust pipes at the back. And it’s even quieter on the inside because the Honda Civic Type R doesn’t have any fake noise pumped through the speaker system. It is a bit of a letdown, I would have loved a louder exhaust but if this is the best that ca be done without resorting to fakeries, I’ll take it.
Unfortunately on hard accelerations, when the VTEC kicks in, YO, the front wheels tend to loose traction. There’s no torque steer present but the tires just don’t grip anymore. I’d be curios how it feels with a pair of Michelin Pilot Super Sports on it because I suspect the tires are to blame for the lack of grid on full throttle.
I love the driving position. It’s low and snug, the seats are fabulous and as an extra bonus you can actually see the bonnet of the car even in the seat’s lowest position.
Obviously this isn’t a car for everyone. If you’re one of the people that likes to be low key, this is definitely not the car for you. It’s shouty, offensive and a bit vulgar. It’s basically a four door version of me 😄
Honda kind of put themselves into a corner with the styling. Instead of creating a more tame car that can appeal to a wider audience, they’ve gone all mad and created a very functional but crazy looking machine.
But I just adore this car. I don’t care about the stupid infotainment system, I don’t care that it took me two days to figure out how to turn the bass up on the stereo.
Heck, I don’t even care that this car eats up more fuel than my M2. For pure driving, pure pleasure behind the wheel, I frankly don’t think any other hot hatch out there can match it. And for me, that’s all that matters when driving this kind of a car.
And even though it’s not the fastest hot hatch out there, or the loudest or the cheapest, I’d buy one in a heartbeat.