FK8 Civic Type-R Review
Is the world's fastest hot hatch as good as people are saying? read on to find out.
The Civic Type-R has always been one of the best in the hot hatch world (with some exceptions. I'm looking at you FN2 Civic.) And this new generation car seems to continue the trend with it smashing the FWD Nurburgring lap time with a time of 7:43:8, which is nearly as fast as a Cayman GT4. So to see what all the hype is about we tested one on the roads around Northampton.
Arriving at Honda in Northampton with the mood high things were looking good. But our mood was damped, literally, when the heavens opened just as we parked up. We could see the car we would be testing parked in the forecourt so we though we should have a poke around the machine. Exterior styling on this car really has it's ups and downs. It's a very marmite car. The new aggressive from bumper looks brilliant, I think, but the scoop in the bonnet doesn't actually lead anywhere. The same story goes for the grills behind the front wheel. They are filled in so dont actually serve a purpose. The 'carbon' side skirts, if im being really picky, has a poor fitment and really dont make it feel premium and seeing as this is a £30,000 + car it really ought to feel premium. Moving to the read we have vortex generators on the roof which are look awesome and the rear spoiler makes it look a bit 'chavy' but makes it look special in it's own way. Honda claim this produces actual downforce but I think it may just be a no lift car.
The colour does look rather good.
Picking up the key we take out places in the glorious bucket seats that come in the Type-R. They're supportive and the seating position is bang on. You sit low but you can just see there the bonnet is making road placement a doddle. My only thing is they're all made from foam and would collapse after a few years. I love the fact they are bright red, it really brings your attention to the drivers seat. The other thing Honda have always done brilliantly in Type-R's is the Aluminium gear knob. Beautifully judged too. The weight of it is spot on and the throw in nice and short. Its also quite high up so it feels a bit more natural. However its not as precise and as sharp as a GT86 or a Porsche. But away from the driving seat the interior is roomy and relatively comfortable. But you cant help but notice the amount of cheap, horrible scratch plastic. So it struggles against something like a Golf R which feels much more premium inside.
The gorgeous seats in the civic.
So you may be thinking " So what if its not the nicest interior its to be driven not looked at". Your right but when your aiming a car at a driver his environment needs to be up to snuff and the Civic Type-R just doesn't deliver.
Turning the key and hearing that 4 pot engine awaken is pretty cool. It has a good exhaust note. Deep and boomy. Leaving the dealer you first notice that even in sport mode the ride isn't harsh at all, it's very much the opposite. The exhaust isn't intrusive either which actually makes it quite pleasant to drive at road speeds. Turning off the dual carriageway we negotiate a few roundabouts before finding ourselves on some good old British B-roads. Chucking it into the roundabout you can feeling the steering weight load up which is reassuring but upon corner exit the FWD Civic really struggles in the damp conditions. Torque steering and wheel spinning all over the place despite its LSD.
Exiting the dual carriageway you can see the infotainment working.
Lets talk about driving modes for a second. The Type-R has 3 modes: Comfort, Sport and R mode. As you go up the modes the throttle response improves and you get more weight in the steering, however R mode feels a bit artificial in its weight. R mode also gets rev matching on downshifts to help make the driving experience a little smoother. The suspension also firms up but even in R mode you'd have to find a really broken piece of road for the ride to feel too harsh.
The heart of the beast.
This car has plenty of performance. The new engine in the FK8 is a turbo charged unit using Honda's Vtec system. It produces 316 hp at 6500 rpm and has 295lb ft of torque from 2500 rpm which is unchanged from the FK2 Civic Type-R (which it replaces.) Honda have also managed to get a red line of 7200 rpm from this turbocharged unit. However as impressive as these numbers are they make for a car that feels on edge all of the time. Trying to overtake becomes a challenge especially in the damp conditions we had. The torque delivery is very spiky and it lights up the front tyres in third gear which means getting the power down is a challenge. But it does make the more satisfying when you get it right. Nevertheless there is no denying that it is a very quick car and in the dry it would be much more pleasant to drive. The best thing about the driving experience for me was the brakes. Big steel Brembo brakes have awesome feel and a solid pedal which means when you eventually hit those high speed figures you can stop with confidence. They also make getting into corners easy.
Those Brembo brakes hiding behind the black 20" alloys.
To really get the best out of this car you have to be on the ball all the time. super smooth throttle application and precise steering inputs are needed. But you don't really want to be on it all the time, do you?
Back left you can see a standard Civic in the same colour. Really helps highlight the changes made to the Type-R
Overall the Honda Civic Type-R is a very blunt instrument that, for me, really didn't meet expectations. The interior was poor and the driving experience really didn't make it feel special. Almost impossible to use all the power as soon as a smidgen of water appears. Doesn't feel as precise as you'd want. In the real world I dont think it lives up to the hype. To me it's certainly no better than a Golf R. And at £32,995 I think there are some much better cars out there.
Think I've been too harsh on the Civic? Let me know in the comments below
Fast and brilliant driving position but poor execution inside and a driving experience that DOESN'T thrill.