The ultimate surprise???
Safe to say, I've had worse surprises...
So, the Ibiza FR has gone out of my life (sorta) and I needed something to fill the void. Actually, need is the wrong word here, as I also own two Mazda MX-5s, one of which has become a bit of a money pit... Anyway, my point is, I WANTED something to replace the Ibiza with, but because I'm so indecisive with cars, choosing my next set of wheels proved to be quite tricky.
Have I found 'The One'?
Like many, I've always been a big fan of the Mk7 Ford Fiesta ST. I think it looks great, it's practical, goes like the clappers and can be had for a very agreeable price on the used car market. In fact, I was very close to pulling the trigger on buying one, but something was niggling me - they're common as muck. This is by no means an insult, just an observation.
I still have a lot of love for this car, and I'd still like to own one some day, but not right now
It's very difficult to anywhere without seeing one, and to be honest, I wanted something that you don't see everyday. That's not to say I wanted something a bit left field such as an Abarth Punto or something niche like a DS3 Racing, but I wanted the sort of car where people would say "You don't see those very often". Granted, the two cars I've just mentioned would have fit that requirement just fine, but I've had Italian and French cars before, and I wanted something different.
Taken out of my hands
It got to a point where I didn't really know which road I wanted to go down, so I hatched a cunning plan. I thought it would be quite quirky to get my wife, Patsy, and my friend, and fellow YouTuber, Chris A.K.A. Pocket Rockets to choose the car for me, and then surprise me with it. This was exciting and nerve-racking in equal measures as I'm a bit of a control freak.
My list of requirements was quite simple; it needed to be a hot hatch, I wanted it to be more powerful than my outgoing Ibiza FR, it HAD to be manual, and ideally, a brand I've never owned before (I wanted a new experience).
A Predictable, yet pleasant surprise
My wife and Pocket Rockets were very careful not to give anything away, which was just fine, as I wanted it to be a surprise. Mind you, my wife kept feeding my red herrings to try and throw me off the scent, which was pointless, as I was never really trying to get a full whiff of the scent in the first place. She did, however, tell me when she had put a deposit down on said vehicle, which was all the way back in August, or something.
She then said that the car would not be ready until late September/early October. Eh? I knew it wasn't a brand new car, so it wasn't as if I was waiting for a build allocation or something, so in my mind that meant only one thing - import. I then quickly came to the conclusion that it was going to be something JDM.
The weeks trickled away with me wondering what her and Chris had sourced, with me none the wiser to what was going on. The day FINALLY came for the car to be unveiled, and as the silky cover got whipped off it was very clear very quickly what had been bought for me. As soon as I saw the Championship White front corner of the driver's side, I could see it was an Honda EP3 Civic Type R.
Not just anyone, though, a facelift, which if you happen to be in the know, you'll be in the knowledge that they are as hard to come by than a group of politicians that have a clear stance on Brexit. Mind you, having said that, the dealership that sold the car - Torque GT - have just managed to get ANOTHER facelift in, so what do I know?!
Speaking of Torque GT, I would thoroughly recommend them if you're looking to get a Japanese car imported into the UK, as I'd argue that are the best in the country for what they do. The model they had sourced for Patsy looked nigh-on spotless. Covering around 78,000 miles, this was a car that was in great condition, both outside and in. Yes, there were a few minor blemishes here and there, but this is a car that's almost 15 years old for crying out loud.
What's so special about it?
It's easy to look at a JDM Civic Type R and merely assume it's just a UK one with some white paint and some equally white alloys to match. However, the JDM is more than just a body colour that's hard to keep clean. The real joys of the Japanese offering are to be found underneath the paintwork.
For starters, it has a different engine. Yes, it's still a 2.0 litre, four cylinder VTEC petrol, only it's not the same one used for the UK models. Forgive me for getting nerdy, but the UK models got the K20A2 engine, whereas the JDM ones got the K20A - the same one used in the DC5 Integra Type R. It also features the same gearbox out the ITR as well, incidentally.
The difference in engines also means a bit more power. 200ps and 215ps are the respective outputs of the UK and JDM, which may not sound like a lot, but the VTEC kicks in a little sooner on the JDM ones, and the gear ratio is a little different as well, if I'm not mistaken. This means the JDM car is 0.2 seconds faster to 62mph, which isn't a massive difference, but faster, is faster. 0-62 in the facelift JDM is 6.4 seconds, whilst it was 6.6 seconds for the UK car.
Spotted the Union Flag? That's to indicate that the car was made in the UK, so it's technically not an import haha!
On top of the small increase in power, the JDM version got something that some would say the UK version was crying out - a limited slip differential. This gives better grip in the corners, although I have seen some people on forums say that you can't notice the difference on the public road. I personally disagree with that in all honesty, but I'm yet to test my car with a UK version back-to-back (I'm working on that).
Whilst the pre-facelift used all red seats like the DC2 Integra Type R (which I think look s bit cooler), the facelift uses the same red/black seats that can be found in the UK Premier Edition
So there we have it - my new car, a 2005 Honda EP3 Civic Type R. I will try and make as much content on this car if possible, so if there is anything you would like to see or know, please do get in touch! A massive thank you my wife, Patsy, Chris, and Torque GT for making this happen. Another thanks goes out to Becca, Chris' fiancee whom trailered the car all the back to Essex from Devon!