Seven observations about the Honda Civic Type R after living with it for seven months…
1. It is very shouty in terms of looks, performance and driving manners.
We specified our car in ‘polished metal’ (a shiny gunmetal grey) at a cost of £525 in an ultimately vain attempt to fly lower on the radar than the bright reds and blues in Honda’s sporty colour palette.
Nevertheless, traffic light drag racers and motorway tailgaters loved getting up close to the Civic Type R, figuring that the huge rear spoiler, dramatic diffuser and flared wheel arches meant I was game for a laugh with them.
I’d love Honda to do a stealth version using the Civic Type R’s powertrain but a toned-down body. It’s all down to personal preference, of course; on one occasion, I was pursued into a supermarket car park by an animated Porsche driver, who, it transpired, was a devout Type R enthusiast and preferred its looks to those of his 911 Carrera...
2. This new, FK2 model has a radically different character from that of the previous, FN2 Civic Type R.
The switch to a turbocharged engine has added impressive low-end performance and the 306bhp power output isn’t too far off that of the Civic Type R BTCC car, supporting Honda’s marketing claim that this is a ‘race car for the road’.
I jumped back into an FN2 for the Goodwood Festival of Speed weekend and although the old car’s naturally aspirated charm bears up well, the FK2 eats it for breakfast in almost every tangible way. It rides better, stops more effectively, has plentiful grip and is more involving to drive hard.
Apart from the noise, that is. The force-fed engine sounds gruffer and less tuneful than the older car’s i-VTEC. To my ears, the old one also generates less of a drone at steady motorway speeds. Allied with the road noise generated by the FK2’s wide, grippy tyres, long journeys in our car could be a little wearing.
3. The ride is acceptable in the car’s standard driving mode.
Mindful of a hot hatch’s raison d’être, I expected a teethjuddering journey up and down the M3 each day, but the ride wasn’t anywhere near as harsh as I feared. It was taut, yes, and vigilance for potholes was still advisable, but I found I could live with it.