What is it?
The Honda Civic Type R, in this its glowering, jutting and angrily blistered fifth-generation form, has landed. Faster, stronger, more powerful and more advanced than any of its forebears, the British-built hot Honda Civic has now begun rolling off its Swindon production line in serious numbers. But has its big moment finally come?
This is the first Type R in more than a decade to move back to all-independent suspension; the first to be developed as a performance machine from the ground up rather than adapted from an existing platform. This Type R broke the lap record for a front-wheel-drive production vehicle at the Nordschleife earlier this year. And this is the first review you’ll read anywhere on an absolutely final, series-production-specification, right-hand-drive example.
Like all Type Rs to date, the fifth-generation Civic is front-wheel drive and sticks with a traditional six-speed manual gearbox for what Honda considers the purest, simplest and potentially most dynamically compelling hot hatch driving experience possible. Compared with the forth-generation model introduced only two years ago, it has a stiffer and lighter body and entirely new suspension and steering systems. A relatively understated powertrain overhaul makes for a 10bhp power boost, while torque remains unchanged.
If you like your performance statistics, you may not be instantly impressed with this car: despite the 10bhp power gain and a final drive ratio shorted by 7%, the new Type R only manages to match the car it replaces on 0-62mph standing-start acceleration (at 5.7sec) and beats it on top speed by a 2mph margin. But don’t be fooled: Honda’s claim is that the superiority of the new version runs deep – and we’ve already confirmed some of its strides in our European first drive.