We don’t often press the big R+ button to the right of the Type R’s steering wheel. It adds extra meat to the car’s responses but makes the ride too harsh for the road. Standard mode is more usable.
We’ve been waiting to exploit our hot hatch’s full potential, though. So when an invitation came to take part in a VTEC Challenge track day at Castle Combe, courtesy of series organisers Jonathan and Lindsey Fletcher, with editor Matt Burt busy I was quick to volunteer.
On the day, there was a great feeling of camaraderie among the owners. In addition to a supporting cast of older Civics, Integras, Accords, Preludes, and S2000s, there were more than 30 current FK2 Civic Type Rs.
On the track, I was struck by the very un-Honda-like surfeit of torque from the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, which provided staggering corner exit speed. I could rely on the low-down power and short shift through the gears to concentrate more on my lines.
A few laps later, I pressed the R+ button. What I thought was already excellent traction seemed to double, and through the steering wheel and my seat I could feel the power being transferred between the front wheels. It gave me even more confidence to get on the power as early as possible.
Attacking lap after lap did have its drawbacks: I could feel the rubber start to overheat and the Brembo brakes begin to lose their bite. This, allied to a tank of fuel being consumed in just 84 miles, meant I took things rather more steadily during the afternoon session.
If you’re planning to go on track in your Civic Type R, it’s worth getting your car checked over afterwards. After Castle Combe, our Honda needed fresh front brake discs and pads, new front tyres, and an oil and filter change. All in, that little lot came to £1583.05.
That’s enough to make owners think carefully about taking to the track regularly, although if you do, the Civic Type R is fantastic fun.
Repairing a kerbed wheel
Autocar has a resident alloy wheel wizard, road tester John Howell, who has done a great touch-up job on the rim I thunked into a kerb. The ugly dent in the alloy is still visible if you get up close, but the silver scrape, which only served to highlight the damage to the painted rim, is gone, making me feel a whole lot better about it.
Honda Civic Type R 2.0 i-VTEC GT
Price £32,295; Price as tested £32,820; Economy 29.7mpg; Faults None; Expenses Oil £13.71, brake discs and pads, front tyres, oil and filter £1583.05