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Civic Type-R | Honda

Date of Release: January 2018
Number of Reviews 1

With its adventurous styling, class-leading engine technology and inspiring reputation for performance, the Honda Civic Type-R is the embodiment of progressive design.

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The Torque Rating:  

Generic:

Value
Safety
Exterior
Interior
Performance

Hatch Lifestyle

City slicker
Boot/seat versatility
Entertainment
Still looking cool
Robot racer

Design

In terms of styling, this performance hatch is distinctively bold and sleek-looking. Defined by sharp lines, a mean front façade with a twin-split grille and 20-inch gloss black alloys, the Type-R has a futuristic appeal about it. 

Step inside the well-appointed cabin and you’ll find a judicious combination of style, luxury and smart ergonomics. 

Performance

If you’ve ever driven a Type-R then you’ll know that its source for exhilaration comes from under the bonnet. Awakened by a potent 2.0-litre VTEC turbo engine mated with a six-speed manual transmission. Although the Type-R’s ride quality is smooth when driving through the metropolitan – the open freeway is where it feels most at home.   

Safety

Despite the fact that the sum of this performance hatch is it’s blistering performance, an extensive list of safety and security features means that you’re well looked after. Standard equipment includes: seven airbags, Honda Sensing safety suite, reverse camera, ABS and VSA Electronic Stability Control (ESC). 

THE TORQUE REVIEW

Hot hatches – based on the number of passionate fans alone, one could argue that these little monsters have carved out one of the most successful motoring segments of all time. But what made them so successful? In our minds, a couple of keywords standout. A 2l engine, a manual gearbox and pushing the envelope in terms of what a front, two-wheel drive system can handle. Whilst many of today’s “super hatch” favourites incorporate one or two of those factors, there are only two seriously fast cars that still opt for a FWD (front-wheel-drive) system: the Renault Megane RS and the car in question, a Honda Civic Type-R. And, before you shout at us on Facebook, saying what about the GTI, for us, that is superseded its bigger, all-wheel drive brother, the 7R.

Considering that the Megane RS sends its power via a semi-automatic, dual clutch gearbox, that leaves us with one car that remains true to the old secret formula. And what a formula that is! Serve that up with today’s latest, cutting-edge, drive-train and engine technology and what you get is a world-class driver’s car.

Honda SA recently launched this hot hatch icon along South Africa’s beautiful South Coast, a highlight of which was a stint at Dezzi Raceway, led by SA motorsport champ, Deon Joubert. Many of you would have already seen new Type R pics on the internet, but trust us on this, there’s nothing quite like seeing it in the flesh. This car has presence! It’s one of those rare cars you can circle 4 times, and still discover new styling aspects each time. In terms of exterior styling, it’s arguably SA’s LOUDEST car – awesome for some, too much for others. But before you decide which side of the fence you’re on, go and see it!

In the meantime, here’s something to wet your lips… A few of the many, many exterior styling highlights include:

  • Flying in the face of your traditional, large circular projector LED bulb headlights, the new Civic Type R has gone with the matrix LED look, complete with integrated LED daytime running lights that mostly underline the main lamp, terminating in the upper far corner. Their thin, “slanty eye” look goes well with overall, progressive and aggressive front-end of the car.’ We like how the headlamps are housed in a smooth, black plastic frame that extends across the full face of the car.
  • Of course, there’s the exclusive red Honda badge, an honour bestowed only to the Type R, Honda’s flagship sports vehicle.
  • The lower front end is dominated by two large “scoops” that are filled with a solid mesh black plastic, in which, sit two large fog lamps. If you look closely, you can actually see a small oval of “open mesh” when the European spec Type R houses its radar.
  • The entire bottom edge of the car is jazzed up with very sporty looking (similar to the Nissan GTR actually) carbon-fibre panels with a red pinstripe. This is one of our favourite visual aspects of the car.
  • The front end of the car also has three air intakes
  • Two are in the lower front bumper, helping to direct air to on the large, red-calliper Brembo brakes.
  • The final one is in the centre of the bonnet, which directs air down the back of the engine and then via slats at the back side of the front-wheel arches. This sends hot air down the flank of the car, making it more slippery, improving overall aerodynamic performance. We can’t stress how much the Japanese engineers have obsessed over every little detail of this car.
  • Speaking of aerodynamics, there are little fins on the rear-end of the roof that help create vortices, directing air onto what is probably the most elaborate rear spoiler in the market.
  • Finally, looking at rear-end, your eyes can’t help but gravitate towards the triple exhaust setup (reminds us of a supercar classic, the Ferrari F40). The two outer pipes are your typical sports exhausts but the small one in the middle, is actually a direct pipe off the turbo pressure release valve, which results in an amazing bassy “doomph” sound as you change up via the quick shifting, 6-speed manual gearbox. Turbo dump amplifier! We love it!!!

Love it? Hate it? Before you decide, see the car in the flesh. Available in 6 colours, the traditional flagship colour of the Type R is Honda’s ‘Championship White’, but our favourites were definitely the ‘Polished Metal’ and ‘Sonic Grey’ colours.

The dramatic racing feel continues on the inside but surprisingly, there’s a good dose of practicality too! Interior styling highlights include:

  • Two-tone (red and black), suede leather bucket seats. Honda cleverly placed two parallel black strips on the seats’ upright, imitating the look of a racing harness seatbelt. The seats are manually operated and support your body nicely through the bends. They are firm, but we didn’t find them overly uncomfortable in the long run.
  • The carbon-fibre, red pinstripe look we liked from the exterior continues on the inside. The dashboard/centre console is well laid out and easy to use. The speedo console has straight-line styling and is split up into three core parts, utilising digital screens to clearly display the info you want to see.
  • The large centre mounted infotainment system comes standard with SatNav and Apple CarPlay. We found it to be easy on the eye and fairly easy to use. The Type R also comes standard with automatic, dual-zone climate control, auto handbrake with brake hold function, auto headlights and keyless entry, start/stop.
  • The multi-function steering wheel (complete with cruise control) is similar to the one you will find in the CR-V. Red inserts as well as a red Honda badge help to differentiate it.
  • Rear passenger space is fair and the boot is bigger than you expect to be, coming in at 414l, which can be boosted up to 780l by folding down the rear seats.
  • Finally, there’s the all-important 6-speed gearbox itself. The brushed metal ball gear knob with its red font is surrounded by various driving aids (and your cars unique serial number), most importantly of which is the driving mode switch. Honda themselves admit that the previous generation Type R was perhaps a bit too hardcore for everyday use. The new Type R comes with three driving modes:
  • Sport (default mode): Our first track run was done in this mode and the car literally felt like it was driving on rails. So much traction, so much grip. It’s amazing what the Honda engineers can achieve from just 2 powered wheels.
  • Type R (track mode): You better know what you are doing because this mode turns most of the electronic aids, bringing out “the Stig” within you.
  • And, oddly, the most important mode… Comfort! By introducing a comfort mode, the car’s practicality appeal is massively broadened. It suddenly makes sense to drive this car on an everyday basis.

Whilst we think the comfort mode is a great addition, let be honest, the primary reason you buy a car like this is that you’re a fan! You want a vehicle that you can push, a vehicle that challenges your driving limits, yet, does so in a safe manner. You want a serious hot hatch! And that’s exactly the experience the new Type R gives you.

It’s amazing to see how quickly the speedo climbs thanks to the high-revving, 228kW / 400Nm 2l turbo-petrol engine. The first three gears are quite short, with 3rd gear topping out at around the 130Km/h mark. The fourth gear then pulls like nothing else, getting you up to speeds you should never really be going in a manner quicker than you can believe. Just think, there’s another two gears to go – if you dare! 0 – 100Km/h takes just 5.8 seconds! Top speed (according to Honda) is an eye-watering 272Km/h.

As awesome as the performance is, what really impressed us the most was the handling! Unbelievable! Saying we were in complete control of the car feels like a bit of an understatement. We’ve never experienced a limited slip diff quite like the one in the Type R. You quickly forget you are operating a two-wheel drive car. The speed you can carry through the corners thanks to its new hardened chassis and improved suspension is really impressive. Even if you get it a bit wrong and start to lose momentum, the Type R allows you to put the power back down so much earlier than you normally would (during the corner exit phase), meaning you can still power out of the corner without having to worry you are going to understeer wide. Slowing down is just a fun thanks to the Type R’s rev-matching technology – just focus on the brake, clutch and the fast approaching corner, and you’ll hear that 2l engine pipping nicely in the background. Trust us when we say this car is right at home on the track. We love the racing aids too, particularly the optimal gear change LED’s on the speedo.

A great launch indeed – thanks Honda SA! That said, let’s see how this “cult-like” car matches up to our hatchback lifestyle judging criteria:

  • City Slicker (4 out of 5): Is parking a breeze? Can you whizz through traffic etc.? Whizz is a bit of understatement here, but yes, you can easily use this car on a daily basis, thanks mostly to its comfort mode. In fact, with all the luxuries you expect to find in a premium hatch, it’s actually quite a pleasant place to be – so slow down, enjoy the car! Whilst ride quality levels are acceptable on less than perfect roads, one needs to be extra careful of potholes with those very low-profile tyres.

  • Boot/Seat Versatility (4 out of 5)Some people say the Type R looks more like a sedan than a hatchback, but it’s definitely a hatchback and therefore comes with an added level of practicality. We suggest you argue along these lines when trying to convince your better half that the Type R makes the best sense. As per the above point, just don’t get a puncture as there is no spare tyre. If you do, hopefully you have a comfortable couch to sleep on.

  • Entertainment (3 out of 5): Decent sound system combined with an easy-on-the-eye touchscreen infotainment system, means the Type R scores well here. We personally prefer physical knobs for volume vs. the touch-orientated up-down bar. We also not major fans of the hard plastic buttons on the multi-function steering wheel.

  • Still looking cool (4 out of 5): You can’t help but stare at this car. Loud, yes, but still awesome in its own way. Gone are the days of people needing to buy ordinary hatchbacks and customising them themselves at your local auto shop. Honda has already done everything you could possibly want to do with this car.

  • Robot Racer* (5 out of 5)There’s no gimmicky software to help you launch this car. It’s just you, three pedals, a 6-speed box and crazy powerful 2l engine. Get it right and you’ll rocket this car up to 100Km/h in 5.8 seconds. That’s not as quick as some hyper hatches, but it is definitely quicker than most. If you get into an argument with your hot hatch friends, just tell them you have more power and more torque than a Golf 7R. Claimed fuel economy comes in at 8.4l/100Km but realistically you expect it to be somewhere in the low teens.
  • *THE TORQUE encourages responsible, law-abiding driving.

So how much does this beast cost? The all-new Honda Civic Type R will set you back R627k, which includes an impressive 5-year/200,000Km warranty + 5-year/90,000Km service plan as well as a complimentary 3-year AA roadside assistance package. That’s cheaper than a VW Golf R and we advise you not to compare this price with the starting price of the Golf R (R647,300) as you will almost never buy a VW at its starting price. These two cars are at either end of the hot hatch spectrum. The one, understated with blistering performance. The other, loud, very loud, incredibly quick in a myriad of conditions and most importantly, totally engaging! It’s like Honda themselves say – are you Type R? This car will either suit you or it won’t. But it’s hard to argue against that winning formula we mentioned at the beginning of our review. Know this, if you do buy the Type R, you are getting a car that is leaps and bounds better than any Type R before it. It’s the very best of what Japanese motorsport passion can produce.

Likes:

  • Totally engaging drive. You are in complete control, with Honda engineering helping to put the power down better than ever before. Grip levels are very impressive!
  • Dynamic and practical. Thanks to its comfort mode and cabin creature comforts, this car can change from a highly tuned track car into an everyday hatchback, complete with park sensors and ISOFIX rear seats.
  • Exhaust sound. It might not be Vrrrpha, but some may prefer that bassy drop everytime you change the gear. We just love that we finally have audio feedback from a manual car.

Dislikes:

  • The small storage shelves in front of the gear lever and below the climate control panel have a two-tier structure, smaller one on top and a larger, harder to access one at the bottom. What we found strange is that there is a square hole in the top shelf, meaning that items such as your phone can accidentally fall through.
  • Although the sound system includes 8 speakers, it doesn’t include a subwoofer – cool cars need to come with cool sound.
  • The petrol tank is a bit on the small side for us – 47 litres.


Do you own or regularly drive the all-new Honda Civic Type R? Tell SA what you love about your car by quickly rating it on THE TORQUE. Register today!


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THE TORQUE is an independent platform dedicated to car reviews. Instead of judging a car based on one or two people’s opinions, THE TORQUE allows you to see what like-minded, real people, who actually own or regularly drive the cars have to say about them.

In addition, THE TORQUE team shares their own ‘lifestyle orientated’ and easy-to-understand reviews on selected cars. Combining the two, gives one the ability to make a truly informed purchasing decision on what the best car for you is. After all, buying a car is a big decision! Register today and tell SA what you love about your car!

 


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