We barely had time to get used to the last, 4th generation Civic Type R’s slightly nutty approach to driving when the new, 5th gen model was announced. This is due to the Type R being late to the 9th generation Civic party; replace the base model and you’ve got to replace the hot version, too.
Civic Type R
So, what’s new? Well, despite the engine being an updated version of the turbo-charged, 4-cylinder, 2.0 litre unit we found in the last Type R, it’s had a power increase up to 316bhp whilst torque remains the same at 400Nm. That’s only half the engine-story, though. Lag has been all-but eliminated and there’s hints of the good ol’ VTEC engines as it screams through the rev range up to 7,200rpm. We may have been forced to say goodbye to Honda’s n/a 9,000rpm Type Rs but they’re working damn hard to make up for it.
Far More Than Just a Power Hike
It’s the rest of that car that’s seen the most dramatic changes, though. Honda claim that this is the first Type R to have been built from the ground up, being not just a modified ‘normal’ Civic. Practically everything has been improved upon; suspension, steering, chassis, transmission – if Honda could make it more Type R-ish, they did.
What this adds up to may not look like much in performance terms, on paper at least. 0-62 is still 5.7s (5.8 in GT) and one solitary mile per hour has been added to the top speed (169mph). Don’t believe everything you read, though, the new Civic Type R is the current record holder for a front-wheel-drive car to lap the Nurburgring, beating the VW Golf GTI Clubsport S by a whopping 5.4 seconds.
Why is the Civic Type R so Fast?
So, just how have Honda gleaned such an improvement in real-world performance (this Civic Type R beat its predecessor by 7 seconds around the Nordschleife)? Well, for starters, the 0-62mph times may be very similar but it’s what happens after 62 mph that matters. The similarities to the hey-day of VTEC engines continue as the engine seems to find more oomph as the revs increase. Couple this to one of the most precise six-speed manual ‘boxes and the results are captivating.
To really understand why this Type R is so special, you’ve got to take the time to have a good look around it. Everywhere you look there’s fins, scoops and carbon-fibre bits, all there to make it more efficient at cutting through the air, adding downforce or cooling hot bits. See those exhausts? They’re not just there for your Ferrari 458 fantasies. At high speeds, the smaller diameter central pipe can actually suck air in – the result is a good, raspy sound at lower speeds when you want it, but nothing too droney on the motorway. Now that’s attention to detail.
Fancy a Bit of Heel & Toe Cheating?
If features like that are your thing, and I’ll assume they are, then you’ll love this. Always wanted to keep those revs up using a ‘heel and toe’ technique, but couldn’t quite get your plates of meat around it? Honda have sorted this for you and the engine will automatically rev-match on downshifts and even upshifts if necessary. Speaking of revs, scroll through the dash display and you’ll find a digital version of a set of shift-lights for optimum gear-changes. This thing isn’t messing about.
Could the exhaust be louder? Well, yes, but that’s not what the Type R is about. Don’t like the styling? Again – tough luck, it’s not there to be a stationary work of art, it’s there to go quickly. Go, not show if you like. Personally, I can see how it may all be too much for some, but I think the basic Civic shape is much improved with the aero bits added.
More Extreme, yet More Comfortable Too
One major criticism of the last Type R was that it was too harsh, all of the time. Honda must have been listening because there’s now not only a +R mode that puts everything at its sharpest for ultimate pereormcane, there’s a Comfort mode too. No, it’s still not exactly a Rolls Royce Phantom but it’s a hell of a lot easier to live with when you happen to not be driving around a track.
Should I Buy a Civic Type R?
The New Civic Type R is an exercise in taking the hot hatchback genre to the extremes. It still holds the FWD Nordschleife record – for how much longer, who knows? Whatever beats it is going to have to be something special, though.
By Ben Harrington
Honda Civic Type R GT Specifications
Specifications; Honda Civic Type R GT, Transmission – 6 speed manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 316bhp, Torque – 400Nm, Emissions – 176g/km CO2, Economy – 36.7 mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 169mph, Acceleration – 5.8s 0-62mph, Price – £32,995 OTR with GT pack, £30,995 without.
The Honda Civic Type R is available now. For full details go to; www.honda.co.uk