We’re now on to the second generation of Civic Type R to feature a heavily turbocharged four-cylinder engine rather than the atmospheric VTEC screamer of yore.
The unit’s 295lb ft – delivered in its breathy, sucker-punch totality between 2500rpm and 4500rpm – remains unchanged from before, while power is now up to 316bhp at 6500rpm.
Anybody who anticipates a shortage of character and levity brought about by forced induction is in for a pleasant surprise. Honda has done a remarkable job in using an over-square cylinder design (that is, greater bore than stroke) to deliver an effervescent engine that rises to the occasion with every foray towards the 7200rpm redline.
The claim is that this iteration of the company’s VTEC variable valve timing system adjusts the degree of exhaust-valve lift to reduce turbo lag. In truth, you’ll still be acutely aware of its existence, the engine response exhibiting a pregnant pause following even a slight lift of the throttle, although just how detrimental this is to the driving experience is arguable.
The short, notchy throw of the six-speed ’box – about as tactile as it gets this side of a Caterham – and the 2.0-litre engine’s alarming enthusiasm for escalating crank speeds mean it’s no chore to keep boost pressure high. Do so and the Civic Type R pulls viciously hard, seemingly with no dead spot at any point in the power delivery.
As so often with overpowered hot hatches, accessing this level of performance requires an element of delicacy. Off the line, the engine will hold only 3500rpm before the clutch is re-engaged, and once on the move, it’ll happily spin up the front wheels in its first three ratios.
Through trial and improvement, on a track with damp patches, we managed a 5.7sec 0-60mph sprint, which is very strong, albeit not unprecedented, for a traction-limited high-performance front-driver.
Of greater interest is the Civic’s 0-100mph time of 12.5sec and – to pick one of several eye-widening in-gear figures – a fourth-gear 70-90mph time of just 3.6sec. When taken along with a claimed top speed of 169mph, those numbers paint a picture of a notably quick performance car and sensationally quick hot hatch.