The new hot Civic’s front seats are the lightest to have been fitted to a Type R.
They look slightly better than they feel under your backside, being upholstered in bright red Alcantara in a lasting Type R convention, but offering better comfort and support to your thighs and lower back than they do to your upper back and shoulders.
And yet the incremental improvement they represent is unmissable. They’re set much lower than those of the last-generation car (as a result of the relocation of the Civic’s fuel tank to the usual position under the back seats) and deliver the driver as optimal an orientation to the car’s major controls and its centre of gravity as almost any rival hot hatchback can grant.
The red detailing on the steering wheel in front of you and on the fascia trim behind that also tells you that you’ve arrived in Type R central, although neither does so quite as loudly or clearly as the beautifully machined sphere of aluminium alloy attached to the top of the gearshift lever, which seems to crave the tactile warmth of your palm.
The digital instruments change with your selected driving mode and preference, but with +R mode selected, you get some extra red illumination around the instrument binnacle, an enlarged rev counter and a helpfully large row of shift lights that help you to gauge the perfect gearshift timing as the revs rise.
As hot hatchback driving environments go, this one’s certainly both charismatic and exciting. But unlike one or two similarly priced rivals, it’s quite old-fashioned in the sense that it isn’t very materially rich or upmarket.
The current-generation Civic’s interior made a worthwhile improvement on the standard of perceived quality of its predecessor, and yet the Type R remains some way off a Golf R in this respect – and probably a Seat Leon Cupra and a Peugeot 308 GTi, too.
There’s plenty of apparent integrity to the car’s fixtures and fittings and there’s leather and artificial suede used nicely in places, yet this isn’t the sort of cabin you’d call ‘premium’. There’s a technical sort of appeal to it, but it doesn’t look and feel particularly expensively hewn.
For a car manufacturer renowned for its passion for advanced technology, Honda continues to show a surprising lack of flair for infotainment. The Civic’s 7.0in system works through a touchscreen interface and it offers much of the functionality you’d want, from a DAB radio and smartphone mirroring for both Apple and Android phones to internet music streaming and even optional wireless phone charging. However, it’s a relatively plain-looking system that can border on the frustratingly unresponsive at times and it isn’t nearly as easy to use as the best set-ups from the competition.