Take one standard Honda Civic hatchback add a more powerful turbocharged engine, a track tested aero kit, adaptive dampers, Brembo brakes, 20” wheels with rubber band tyres and a tricky limited slip diff and voila you have the Honda Civic Type R.
This transformation by Honda of the standard Civic hatch has resulted in the Type R being the fastest front-wheel drive car to ever lap the Nürburgring circuit with an amazing time of just 7:43.8 seconds. To put this accomplishment into perspective the current ‘Ring record for a production car is held by the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ with 6:44.97 seconds. But the SVJ costs $949,640 and is powered by a 760bhp 6.5-litre V12 engine. Almost an extra $900,000 to go one minute faster around a 21km track; making the Type R is a very cost effective way to go fast at just $51,990 plus on road costs.
Let’s get one thing out of the way though; the looks of the Type R are extreme. There are more angles on it than in a geometry lesson and before I drove one I didn’t find the looks appealing at all. But after spending a week with the Type R I can say that the styling suits the personality car, it’s a flamboyant Japanese car on the inside and out.
All those cut backs and creases do make it time consuming to wash the Type R and if you had large hands there are some spaces that you would struggle to be able to clean at all. But the 20” wheels are the easiest to clean on the inside of the rim of any I car I’ve ever washed. I could reach my whole hand in and clean right around the inside of the rim, so there would be no excuses for dirty rims if you owned a Type R except after a good track day.
The Type R has a 6-speed manual gearbox with rev matching on downshift and a really nice smooth alloy gear knob. The Helical Limited Slip Differential has been designed for more dynamic driving experience. But under hard acceleration there is wheel spin from the front tyres and understeer when cornering hard.
The 2.0 litre VTEC turbocharged engine has 228kW and 400Nm torque between 2500-4500rpm; it likes to be revved and quickly hits the redline, so I needed to be quick on my gear changes and used the shift lights on the dash. Other dash display options including a G meter, stopwatch for your lap times and a boost pressure gauge.
The Type R does 0-100km/hr in 5.7 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 272km/h. The official combined fuel consumption is 8.8L/100km and for the week I drove the Type R I achieved 9.8L/100km. Considering the driving that was done in the Type R this is a very respectable fuel figure and even better the Type R runs on 95RON petrol.
There are three drive modes to select from in the Type R Comfort, Sport and +R. I spent the majority of my time in +R as I wanted to experience the full Type R joy for the entire stint I had with it. But in Comfort mode you do notice the softening of the damper setting. Also the colour of the dash changes from white in Comfort mode, to red in Sport mode and even brighter red in +R mode.
Once you’re on the inside of the Type R you don’t have to look at it anymore, and if you really don’t like the looks you will soon get over it once you start driving it. The Type R has lovely race-inspired snug fitting grippy suede-effect fabric high-backed bucket seats that have 3-way seat manual adjustment. The steering is weighted really nicely and the steering column also has manual adjustment. Less electronics means less weight and less weight means quicker lap times.
There’s a 7-inch touchscreen that enables you to access your audio inputs including DAB, Bluetooth, HDMI or USB. There is no sat nav though so you are reliant on Apple Carplay or Android Auto for your destination guidance. There is voice control for making phone calls via the Bluetooth connection, but it only works if voice tags have been assigned.
The touchscreen displays the rear view camera with parking guidelines when reversing and there are also parking sensors. For blind spot assist there is a camera that displays the left hand side of the car on in touchscreen when you indicate left. You can also turn the camera on manually with a button on the end of the indicator stalk, which is great for parking so that you don’t scuff your beautiful 20” gloss black wheels.
Under the arm rest of the centre console there is a large storage area with one USB outlet. The Type R only has one cup holder in the centre of the console and at the front there is a ledge for your phone that has a hole for you to feed a cord from the device down to the outlet for 12V, USB and HDMI plug below on a separate ledge. To signify the individuality of the Type R there is a custom serial number embossed just below the gear stick to identify your Type R.
The Type R comes with adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist as standard. There was some road noise in the Type R, but considering why you are buying the Type R you most likely won’t mind this.
It also only has a manual opening boot, but it’s large enough to fit a pram and the weekly shop. Another weight saving is there is no spare tyre, just a run flat kit.
There are only two rear seats in the Type R and these have a 60/40 folding mechanism and there is no fold down centre console between them.There are no drink bottle holders, air vents of USB ports in the back. It doesn’t mean this is a car not for children as it does have two rear tether/ISOFIX child restraint points or ample enough room for adults to sit comfortably in there. The transmission tunnel has a removable mat over it so the tunnel carpet is protected like the rest of the carpets in the rear of the car, a really neat feature I thought.
It’s good to know that as you move through life you don’t have to transform every part of it. If you own a Type R in your 20s and later have children you can still be a car girl and drive your Type R once you’ve had children; you will be the cool mum who drives the cool car!
Visit your preferred Honda dealer to test drive one for yourself.
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.