Honda’s racy Civic Type R is a delicious thing. Beautifully-balanced on road, it also has one of the best engines to be found anywhere - its i-VTEC DOHC four.
In a ‘hot-hatch’ segment dominated by thumping turbos, Honda’s masterful Type R takes a different approach.
- Quality: The Type R creates a premium impression with black Alcantara and red fabric seats, machined aluminium gear knob, alloy pedals, monogrammed carpets and tight vault-like feel.
On the downside, the dash design is a mess of lines. Also, in our test car, there was an ill-fitted plastic corner trim in the driver’s door.
- Comfort: With well-bolstered seats and a superbly damped elastic suspension, the Type R is a comfortable drive with few of the expected compromises.
Its egg-shaped back also provides lots of rear leg and head-room. One niggling debit is that the front seat-backs do not return to their prior setting after being tilted forward.
- Equipment: Standard equipment includes CD (MP3 and WMA), iPod and USB integration, and aux-in. It also comes with a multi-function steering wheel (tilt and telescopic), cruise and climate control, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, fog lights, and heated door mirrors.
- Storage: Boot space is a useful 485 litres; that rises to 1352 litres with the 60:40 rear seats folded into the footwell. The out-of-sight underseat area in the rear is also clever.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: It may not have the sling-shot feel of a turbo, but the 148kW Type R is an exhilarating drive. Hit the meat of the powerband at 5400rpm and it simply takes off, shrieking to an 8000rpm redline.
With the slickest of six-speed transmissions, on a winding road it is spine tingling stuff.
It’s made for the racetrack but with a nicely-weighted clutch, direct (electric assist) steering and a compliant ride, it is just as easy to enjoy poking around the suburbs.
- Refinement: The on-road refinement of the Type R is a surprise. It is much quieter than a regular Civic over coarse road surfaces; wind noise is low, and it’s also free of mechanical harshness.
- Suspension: MacPherson struts up front, torsion beam rear with stabilisers front and back. With a rigid chassis and superbly-tuned damping, Type R ‘rides’ the contours of the road and, as a sporting drive, it simply works.
- Braking: There are ventilated 300mm discs up front, 260mm solid discs at the rear, also ABS and EBD.
- Euro NCAP rating: 5-Stars (not rated in Australia)
- Safety features: Standard are front, side and curtain airbags with double pre-tensioners on the front seatbelts and seatbelt reminder system. ABS, EBD, VSA, and other dynamic safety features are also standard.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: All Honda cars are sold with a three-year/100,000km warranty. The Honda Assured Extended Warranty adds an additional two years and 40,000km.
- Service costs: Service intervals are every 10,000km, with service costs between $70 and $250 for the first 60,000km. (Indicative pricing only)
- Service interval: 10,000km/12 months.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
The Civic Type R is priced at $39,990 plus on-roads (around $43k drive-away), but competition is tough.
- Volkswagen Golf GTI ($40,490) - Brilliant, yes, but Honda’s i-VTEC engine is better. The GTI is also too much like an ordinary Golf (and common as mud). (see GTI reviews)
- Ford Focus XR5 Turbo ($36,490) - This is the bargain-buy of the moment and fast as all get-out. Although the recommended RRP is $36,490, you can pick up a brand new turbo Focus XR5 on Discount New Cars for as little as $33,990 drive-away. The Type R is more satisfying, but at that price..?
- Mazda3 MPS ($38,435) - Another hot-hatch stormer with a deserved reputation. Currently $38, 435 plus on-roads; a very good drive but lacks the sublime balance of the Type R.
Note: prices are manufacturer's list price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The superbly balanced Type R is a gem: it is just so involving and such fun at the wheel.
In a segment that has become a battle of raw turbo-driven kilowatts, the Type R takes a different path – its sporting soul is one of balance and finesse.
It’s a decision of the heart. We love the Type R, you will too.