Why we ran it: To determine whether the most ferocious front-wheel-drive hot hatch on sale today is usable on a daily basis
Life with a Honda Civic Type R: Month 6
Saying goodbye to the Civic Type R - 25th July 2018
That’s it, then, the Honda Civic Type R has gone. And with it, after nearly 10,000 miles, we know that this 2.0-litre turbocharged hatchback, unlike its predecessor, is a well-rounded all-year-round car and not just a one-dimensional Nürburgring scream machine. Yup.
The main thing I’ll take away from this test is how usable the Civic Type R is on a daily basis, given it’s the most ferocious front-drive hot hatch on sale today. Far more so than the previous Civic Type R.
Last time around, the Type R was shoehorned into the Civic’s model cycle near the end of the car’s life, just on the basis that Honda realised that the hot car market wasn’t dead, and it wanted to make a splash. So they made it incredibly fast around the Nordschleife, and to heck with everything else.
This time, it still is fast in that patch of Germany – it’s the current holder of the ’Ring’s front-drive production car record, after all – and it’s still great to drive in the right conditions. It steers really keenly, has great body control, is very fast and seriously rewarding. But it’s also habitable and usable in the wrong conditions.
That the Type R was in the product plan from the start of development has made the Civic a better racing car. Before the start of the BTCC season, I took our Civic up to Team Dynamics, which runs Honda’s touring car campaign, where they were putting together a racing car using the road car’s body-in-white as a basis.
The floor is flat along most of the underside – in the old car, the fuel tank was under the front seats – which allows the driver’s seat to be mounted lower and also means the under-body aero effect is better. And the wings and scoops that find their way onto the road car, giving it an ‘interesting’ appearance, are also used on the race car, which gives impressive aero performance.
From a road car perspective, and on the M4 or a back road rather than a race track, I suspect the only notable benefit of the flat floor is that low driving position. It’s dead easy to get comfortable in the Civic and stay that way, with its body-hugging seats and widely adjustable wheel matching the car’s intent nicely.
As does the metal-topped gearlever, which is the coolest outside of an Ariel Atom or Caterham 7. Not cool frequently enough, mind you: freezing cold or red hot are its preferred states. I love it, but having climbed into the car in both -5deg C and 30deg C temperatures, it makes you suffer for your art. No wonder most car makers moved to wood or plastic as soon as they could.