As I awkwardly try to reverse my hind quarters over the lip of the bucket seat, it dawns on me that the Type R was probably designed to accommodate drivers with more slender and agile physiques than mine.
Like a gruff nightclub bouncer turning away hopefuls because he suspects their mere presence inside his venue is going to be an atmosphere quencher, the Civic Type R appears to be saying: “If you can’t even get in, you’re too old.”
And it might have a point. I gripe and groan like a grandma as I discover that the thinly cushioned sports seat pinches me a bit around the upper back area and lacks sufficient adjustment for me to get truly comfortable.
I faff at adjusting the thick-rimmed, sporty steering wheel to a position I prefer, only to find that while it allows a perfect view of the rev counter, that chunky rim obscures the digital speed readout on the top of the dashboard, and Honda doesn’t believe in an old-school analogue speedo. “What speed was I doing, officer? About 3750rpm in sixth, as it happens.”
As first dates go, this one has gotten off to an awkward start. I press the starter button to the left of the steering wheel, snick into gear and set off. Only then do I begin to get it.
The effect of driving the Type R is akin to that of a youth-restoring elixir. Synapses crackle, neurons pulse and the driving enthusiast that’s hard-wired into me fires back to life. Those gripes and reservations described above? Forgotten and forgiven within the first couple of miles.
By the time I reach a quieter stretch of open road, I’m wide-eyed and fully awake. I give the throttle a cursory prod and ohmygodthisthingisquick. My fast driving skills are on a par with those of Gordon the Gopher, but this car is making me feel like BTCC champ Gordon Shedden. And I haven’t even dared to press the vampish red ‘+R’ button that sharpens and stiffens the suspension and steering like automotive Viagra.
I rapidly warm to the prospect of living with the Honda. The question is whether I can keep up with it, or exploit anything like its full capabilities. Indeed, back at home, my pulse rate normal and the hairs on the back of my neck now subsided, I think more soberly about what we intend to learn from our Civic Type R over the coming months.
Among the key questions to be answered will be whether this Japanese rocket, which gamely routes its 306bhp through the front axle alone, is a match for the class-standard, all-wheel-drive Volkswagen Golf R.
It certainly needs to be, because our Honda – an upper-class GT model, which means it has a host of kit on top of the already comprehensive standard spec – comes in at £32,820 once our sole option of metallic gunmetal grey paint (£525) is included.