What is it?
This is a smaller-engined and more affordable version of the funky Honda Civic Type S. It continues Honda’s drive to attract younger buyers.
The entire Honda Civic range is being pepped up and facelifted for 2009. Three-door models – like this Type S – have been made stiffer and tougher-looking, while the five-door has been tuned to offer a softer, more comfortable ride.
Both will appeal to entirely different customers. This 99bhp baby Honda Civic Type S trades shamelessly on the Honda Civic Type R’s hot-hatch kudos.
It even gets the Type R’s grille, interior flourishes and a Type R lookalike body kit.
What’s it like?
With a new 1.4-litre i-VTEC engine under the bonnet, the Honda Civic Type S’s performance is much milder than its racy sibling’s.
Zero to 60mph takes 13 seconds and top speed is just 110mph. But the little i-VTEC motor is smooth enough and spins happily to its 6000rpm peak power point, so working it hard is fun.
All Type S models (the 1.8 petrol and 2.2 diesel are still available) have a 20mm wider rear track and stiffer springs than standard Civics, plus big 17-inch alloys.
This offers more agility on the road, but means that the ride gets crashy over broken surfaces.
The six-speed manual gearbox is a must. Honda has improved its optional i-SHIFT automated manual unit, but the sluggish paddle shifts can’t come close to matching the dual-clutch system you’d find in rivals like the VW Golf or Seat Leon. Save money and do without.
Should I buy one?
The huge advantage of the 1.4-litre Honda Civic Type S is its low running costs. Honda also anticipates a group four insurance rating.
Both these factors will no doubt appeal to young drivers, who will also appreciate the S’s jazzed-up looks. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Just don’t let the badge fool you. The Type S is no performance car.