From any angle the latest Type R from Honda unambiguously states its raison d’etre – it’s here to boogie. Now, it will do the mundane, the weekly shop, the school run, the work commute and the pick and drop to the ballet class or rugby training. Then you take a notion and point it at your favourite cross-country route or better still, a track day at Mondello Park, where the phenomenal talents of this front-wheel drive hatchback can be sampled safely in the knowledge that you’re not going to have a starring role in a Garda home movie – welcome to the dark side.
Whereas other cars of its ilk endeavour to camouflage their intent, this 2018 Civic Type R does not have a shy bone in its bod, the angles, cuts, hints of carbon-fibre, air-intakes, wings, skirts and sills, all indicate the devilment that lies within. Powered by a delightful 2.0 litre engine, its 320bhp delivered via a short-shifting, mechanically-tactile, six-speed manual transmission, the Type R could easily be placed in a museum, where it would be heralded as a physical representation of how far we have developed motor motion since Dr. John Colohan ran his four and a half horsepower Benz down Dublin streets in 1899.
The term ‘advanced’ driving’ is often bandied about. Here with the Civic Type R, it is inherent on every rotation of its wheels, where the technical and mechanical might of Honda place you in a car of such talent that we should be wearing a cap and gown to drive it. The Civic Type R won’t just tempt you – it will bring you to a place where only Gods live.
Model: Civic Type R
Format: 5-door, four-seat hatchback
Engine: 2.0 litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Drive: Front-wheel drive
Transmission: 6-speed Manual
CO2 Emissions: 176g/km
Road Tax Band: E
Annual Road Tax: €750
Model tested: Civic Type R GT
Boot Space: 498 litres – 475 litres with the GT Pack. Expanding to 1,427 litres and 1,404 litres on the GT Pack
Width: 2,065mm, including mirrors
Intro Price: Civic 2.0 litre VTEC Turbo Type R: €51,750
Test Car: Civic 2.0 litre VTEC Turbo Type R GT Pack: €53,950
Some of the competition
Audi S3, Cupra 300, Ford Focus RS, VW Golf R, Renault Megane RS
Chances are you’ll get a variation of looks when you bring the Type R into company. Some will go totally juvenile and salivate all over every overt feature it has to offer, while others will shake their heads and nod disapprovingly, or make signs that infer your passage through a mid-life crisis and if you are a male, a lack of physical endowment - I have no idea or presumption what would be levied at a female driver.
Rest assured that nothing on the Civic Tyre R is there for show. It all has a function, it all has a job to do, what looks excessive is in fact necessary. Sitting on 20” black alloys, its profiled tyre so low it hardly seems worth their while putting it on, as the red brake callipers peek assuringly through their spokes. The body-kit of my GT Pack gives all the appearance of gluing the Type R to the road, ably assisted by its wide track and 245-section Continentals. As for the rear spoiler – its functionality may be lost on some folk, whereas its aesthetics will garnish more comment than Donald’s hair colour.
Four into Three does go – a story of exhaustion
Three exhaust pipes trumpet out the centre of the rear splitter, which on a four-cylinder car can cause those of us with motoring OCD to melt. The reason is in fact a solution, Honda style. Open road driving in a car with a substantial exhaust system, double pipes etc., can result in an amount of booming within the cabin. Honda engineers didn’t want to get into expensive multi-mode exhaust cans, with valves and servos, coming up with this split system, where the two outer pipes include large straight through exhausts, the middle one being a resonator, which provides a sound track to your progress, particularly at lower speeds. Once you are up at motorways speeds the air going through the middle pipe is channelled to the other two, keeping cabin noise intrusion to a minimum.
Slim red-backed sports seats, red seatbelts, a steering wheel with red inserts that even standing still tell you that you are in the company of a wolf in wolf’s clothing.
The driving position is surgically correct, low in keeping with the cars modus operandi, the interior space allowing for four well-fed adults to congregate comfortably. Ergonomics, how everything falls to eye, hand and foot should suit the majority, the drivers console informative to the point of perfection.
The centre touchscreen requires a static introduction and all settings put in place prior to the off. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, taking your mobile life into the Type R on simply plugging in. Steering wheel controls are comprehensive and best acclimatised to before the off – you’ll have enough to do without the distraction of educating your fingers on the move.
The Honda Sensing suite is standard, its silent monitoring of your every journey providing an umbrella of reassurance and safety that every car should have. Comprising of radars, cameras and all manner of ninja sensors, this system detects, warns, interrupts and helps us avoid the prime cause of vehicle collisions – human error – us. Here again some time set aside for personal tuition on its talents is well worth it.
On the Road
Defaulted to Sport mode, a quick flick of the centre console switch lights up the Comfort mode on my driver’s console, my Lady wife oblivious to the alteration, bar the comment on having to scale the high seat bolster to gain access. Other incidental comments prefixed her entrance, the Type R’s clothing coming in for the bulk of observational oration. The red seatbelts didn’t go unnoticed and deemed to be fashionably functional against the mundane of normal black.
Once on the move there were no complaints on the harshness/bumpy interaction with the variation of roads we encountered. Now, it is by no means a magic carpet ride, but I found this mode very acceptable, only those with the knowledge aware that they are in the presence of volcanic potential.
The drive feel is very communicative, the conversation constantly updating you on the Type R’s current mood. A nudge into Sport mode and there is a perceptible change in its attitude. It’s more interested in what you are now asking of it, you have its attention. It is coiled and while not in full samurai mode, it is more than willing to dispense with asphalt at a whim, requiring, nay demanding, a complete recalibration of distance, time and corner angles, because this car is voracious with an appetite that is in effect insatiable.
Tap the mode switch into the +R select and every fibre of the Type R has your attention. The steering is now giving you open-channel information, the throttle is now super-sensitive and the suspension and chassis are set to provide the tyres with a workout that goes beyond sweat. Suffice to say this mode is best unleashed in Mondello Park, where its controlled area allows for the pent-up energy of the Type R to be set free.
Whereas some cars can lure you into the Badlands, the Civic Type R lives there with an ease that can display serious numbers on the driver’s console, many digits above what you may have assumed. An effort to put it under pressure on a public road would be both futile and risking a one-way conversation with a Judge. The talents of this car far outweigh most drivers ability to converse with them – a prudent approach is highly recommended.
Honda’s Civic Type R will not sell in huge numbers, the stereotypical comment on its street presence will invariably be ‘boy-racer’ or the aforementioned ‘mid-life crisis,’ none of which will be true. The Type R is a highly developed road car, coming at substantial cost, with the demand for experience, the need for tolerance, a resistance to temptation and the soft-handed touch of a surgeon. Few cars deliver such momentum with such grace, its outright ability laughing at your best.
The Honda Civic Type R is a precision road car for the connoisseur. Don’t be distracted by its looks - they’re the functional necessity of a car in its working clothes. Rarely has something so ‘bad’ been so brilliant.
2018 Honda Civic Type R Features
- 20'' Piano Black Alloy Wheels
- Smart Entry and Start
- Honda Connect
- Honda Sensing
- 3 – Way Selectable Drive Mode (Comfort/Sport/+R)
- Adaptive Dampers (Front & Rear) with Sensor
- Limited Slip Differential
- TYPE R Sports Seat with Red Suede Style Fabric
- TYPE R Leather Sport Steering Wheel
- Centre TYPE R Triple Exhaust with Finisher
GT Pack Adds
- Blind spot information incl. Cross Traffic Monitor
- Climate Control Auto Air Conditioning
- Auto Dim Rear View Mirror
- Parking Sensors (Front and Rear)
- RR One Touch Power Window (Up/Down)
- Remote Power Window (Key Fob Operation)
- Electrically Retractable Door Mirrors
- Remote Retractable Door Mirrors
- Garmin Navigation
- Wireless charging
- Exterior Carbon Fibre Effect Sport Garnish with Red Trim (Front/Rear/Side Still)
- Front Fog Lights
Motoring Correspondent beepbeep.ie
Member of the Association of Professional Motor Press
Voting juror on Irish Car & Irish Van of the Year