Is the Honda Civic Type R the most savage hot hatch money can buy?
I remember growing up and regularly seeing a neighbour's Accord Type R, not appreciating the fact that my parents had a suitably cool Ford Sierra 4x4.. I just thought the Honda was the coolest thing in the world. The lines, the wing, the wheels.. everything looked delicious.
The Civic has had many Type R versions, EK9 - EP3 - FD2/FN2 - FK2 and the current FK8. Each has been well built, gave ample performance for the money and.. VTEC. Oh, the VTEC. However, the newest version kind of gives a bit of.. everything.. in the best way possible.
Performance wise the new one is a proper monster. 320PS, 400Nm of torque, 0-62 in 5.8 seconds and a limited (LIMITED) top speed of 169mph. It's a car which sits at high speed happily but can equally rinse the corners too thanks to independent rear suspension and a host of clever things. Previous Type R's I've driven have been great fun on back roads, equally I found the back end a little loose. Turns out that feeling was all to do with the rear suspension, this FK8 feels the most planted of any factory Type R.. ever.
The steering feel is precise and weighted beautifully, the pedal feel is perfect and gives you a real sense of what's going on. The seating position is great, while some cars give you a higher position (Golf R for instance), the Type R is slammed (in comparison) and the seats hold you in place like a grandmother who hasn't seen the kids for 3 weeks.
Styling wise the Type R is adapted in an epic way, subtle in some ways and loud in others. The 20" Berlina alloys are the first thing to draw your attention (aside from the wing the size of Birmingham), they're refined and strong and look simply superb. The wing is oh so great, it doesn't actually affect rear visibility too badly and gives you the styling of a touring car.
Extra aero is actually pretty subtle to the general public, but boy is there a lot of aero additions in comparison to a standard civic. Extra vents here, there and everywhere mean that this 169mph hyper-hatch can soar to 169mph and beyond.
Inside the Type R is typically Honda. Refined, pretty sturdy and reliable - hard wearing without looking industrial but giving you a sense of quality. The only bad bit is the totally outdated infotainment, which is such a let down considering how good the tech in the rest of the car is (especially on the GT pack).
Rear ISOFIX is available on both of the rear seats.. I said both because amazingly it only has 2 rear seats (like a Ferrari GTC4 Lusso.. awesome). The front is comfortable, the seats hold you amazingly well and you have relatively easy access whilst actually getting good headroom too.
The boot is simply a bottomless pit of amazement. For a 'standard' hot hatch, it takes more than any of the competition in standard form.. by a country mile. It takes my bass amp, pedals and bass with room to spare. Easy to get stuff in and out of and the large boot hasn't affected rear legroom either. An entire 420 litres of boot space, 786 litres if you put the seats down.
Is the Civic Type R the best savage hot hatch you can buy, then? With super aggressive driving characteristics (in a fun way), decent economy (28mpg around town claimed, 25 is achievable), bundles of interior space and a price we can all appreciate (£33,525 OTR for a GT).. really it's an easy yes. If you want a comfy and fast ride you'll go for a Golf R or an M140i.. but if you really want to be in a racing car on every journey - the Type R wins every time.
The standard Type R is £31,525 and only lacks some technology in comparison to a GT. The drive remains the same, as does the interior comfort. PCP prices are around £309-£329 a month, which for a rocket ship.. that's great value.