Reviewing The Honda Civic Type R

The new Honda Civic Type R is the ultimate example of what a hot hatch should be. It has the ability to transform itself from a comfortable day-to-day hatchback into a hardcore performance car at the flick of a switch.

The styling will not be to everyone’s taste, but the Type R has the broadest range of abilities in its class. For that reason we crowed it as our Hot Hatch of the Year at the 2017 Auto Express New Car Awards.

Reviewing The Honda Civic Type R


Our Choice 

Honda Civic Type R GTNot only is the new Honda Civic Type R is fastest front-wheel drive hot hatch around, it’s also an Auto Express favourite, having picked up our 2017 Hot Hatch of the Year award. It fended off the 2016 winner the Ford Focus RS and other models such as the updated VW Golf GTI and SEAT Leon Cupra.

The fourth-generation Type R is completely new from the ground up. It’s based on a new chassis, which it shares with the standard hatchback, and is considerably larger than any other Civic Type R that we’ve seen in the past. It’s also 38 per cent stiffer than before thanks to the use of adhesives and spot riveting for the body construction.

It’s powered by a 316bhp 2.0-litre turbo engine, which puts its power to the road via a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive. That’s 10bhp more than the old model, but Honda claims an identical 5.7-second sprint from 0-62mph. However, top speed has increased to 169mph.

The Type R also recently set a new lap record at the Nurburgring in Germany to reclaim its crown as the hot hatch king, with a time of 7min 48.3 seconds. Honda also claims the Type R is the only car in its class which generates downforce at speed to help improve stability and performance.

It’s available in two specifications: a standard model plus a GT version. The GT spec adds £2,000 to the cost but comes fitted with extra safety tech such as Blind Spot Information including a Cross Traffic Monitor, dual-zone climate control, Honda CONNECT with Garmin Navigation, a wireless charging pad, an 11-speaker audio system and LED front fog lights. Adaptive dampers, 20-inch alloys and bucket seats are standard across the Civic Type R range.

Engines, performance, and drive
Huge fun on the road but there’s a softer side too that makes it more viable as a daily drive

The Honda Civic Type R may not be the fastest hot hatch off the line with a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds, but as a package it delivers one of the most intoxicating driving experiences money can buy – that’s why we crowned it our Hot Hatch of the Year for 2017.

The first thing you notice from behind the wheel are the excellent buckets seats. They hug you in all of the right places, seat you low in the car and feel a lot more comfortable than they look. A new digital dash and cleaner centre console design also make the Civic Type R a much nicer place to spend time than before.



A new Comfort setting on the Type R’s adaptive dampers has also been added, which makes the Honda far more useable on a day-to-day basis. The ride is supple and forgiving so this feels like a much more refined car than the previous model. A crucial change in the transformation is the addition of a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension setup that replaced the old torsion beam. It means the Type R covers ground with more composure and control than before.

However, that softer side hasn’t come at the expense of excitement. Flick through the Sport and +R driving modes and the Type R takes on a much more aggressive character. The steering becomes weightier, the throttle response sharpens and the body control becomes much tighter, making the hot Honda feel like a touring car for the road.

A limited slip-front differential helps generate huge amounts of grip when cornering, which slingshots you round and out of bends at incredible speeds. The six-speed manual gearbox is also one of the best in the business, with a precise, short and weighty throw between changes. A new auto rev matching function has also been added, which blips the throttle on down changes to help aid refinement. It works very well but you can turn the system off if you wish.

The Civic Type R doesn’t sound particularly exciting, however. A new exhaust system has been added, and that is an improvement over the old car but it doesn’t deliver the rally car soundtrack of the Ford Focus RS.  

Engines
The only engine available in the Type R is the 316bhp 2.0-litre turbo. It’s the same basic engine as before, but tuned to develop 10bhp more thanks to the new exhaust system.



Honda claims it propels the Type R from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 169mph. The engine suffers from some turbo lag, but not as much as in the old car, with 400Nm of torque available from 2,500rpm.

MPG, CO2 and running costs
Unsurprisingly it's the most expensive car to run in the Civic range, but it's on a par with its hot hatch rivals
Powered by a high performance 316bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, the Type R is the least efficient Civic in the range – but nobody buys a hot hatch based on fuel economy.

Honda claims the Type R is capable of returning 36.7mpg on the combined cycle while emitting 176g/km of CO2. It attracts a BIK rating of 34 per cent, which puts it on par with the Ford Focus RS.

Insurance groups
Honda has yet to confirm what insurance group the Type R will sit in, but its unlikely that it will be any lower than the previous model which sat in group 33. Given the performance boost don’t be surprised to see it creep up a few insurance groups but its unlikely to be as high as group 40 where the Focus RS sits.


Interior, design and technology
It's hard to miss the Honda Civic Type R with its outlandish styling

The fourth-generation Type R may be completely new beneath the skin, but Honda has stuck with its trademark outlandish design. There’s certainly no mistaking it for anything else on the road, with aggressive bumpers, 20-inch alloy wheels and a huge rear wing. However, Honda has said everything you see on the car serves a purpose and is not there simply for show.



The bumpers, rear wing and vortex generator on the roof all help the Type R generate downforce, pushing the car into the ground to improve performance and stability. The crazy looking triple exhaust has also been designed to help reduce engine noise at motorway speeds.

Step inside, and the new Type R has taken big step forward when it comes to interior quality. While a few scratchy plastics do remain in the cabin, particularly on the centre console, on the whole build quality is much improved.

As standard every Type R come with LED headlamps, air con, a reversing camera, adaptive cruise control and alloy wheels. A more kitted out GT spec replaces the air con with dual-zone climate control, adds a high-powered audio system, LED front fog lights and a wireless phone charging point. Garmin sat-nav is also added as part of Honda’s Connect infotainment system. 

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Honda Connect, the name of the Japanese manufacturer’s infotainment system, has been improved in the latest model but it still lags behind the slick systems found in the class leaders such as the VW Golf R and Golf GTI.

Graphics and resolution of the screen look a little low rent, and at the times the screen can be slow to respond to inputs. A column of shortcut buttons down the side for the seven-inch display are touch sensitive rather than physical buttons so it can be difficult to tell when you have selected the right option, especially if you’re trying to do it on the move.

Practicality, comfort and boot space
The latest Honda Civic Tye R is larger than ever before with 420 litres of boot space

The latest Civic Type R is the largest version of Honda’s famous hot hatch there has been. It’s longer and wider than the model it replaces and is one of the largest hot hatches on the market today. 

Leg room, head room & passenger space
A real party trick of the old Type R was its Magic seats, which allowed owners to fold, tumble or even remove the rear seats. However, they don’t appear in the new car because Honda had to reposition the fuel tank in order to get the packaging correct. As a result the Magic seats had to go.

Nevertheless, the Type R remains a hugely practical car by hot hatch standards. Annoyingly there is no middle seat in the rear, despite there being space for one, so it’s a strict four-seater. However, there is a huge amount of space for the two passengers you can get in the back with plenty of leg and head room for adults over 6ft.




Boot
The 420-litre boot is one of the biggest in its class – a Skoda Octavia vRS offers more luggage space but doesn’t get anywhere near when it comes to performance or agility. Dropping the rear seats in the Honda frees up a total of 1,580 litres of space, but the wheelarches do impede you slightly when loading bulky objects.

Reliability and Safety
The new Honda Civic Type R comes loaded with safety kit, but expect to pay extra for tyres and brake pads

Honda has long held a reputation for developing dependable and reliable cars, with the Japanese brand finishing 16th in our 2017 Driver Power survey. However, that’s not as well as the brand did in 2016 where it finished in 8th position.

This being a performance car, be prepared to pay a little extra for consumables on the Civic Type R, such as tyres and brake pads. You’ll also be buying them on a more regular basis, especially if you plan on taking the Type R on track. 

Warranty
Every Type R sold comes with Honda’s three-year/90,000 mile warranty.

Servicing
A service every year or every 12,000 miles is recommended, while Honda offers buyers a five year service plan for £599.








RELATED ARTICLES