From its ‘designed for a seven-year-old boy styling’ (I should know, my seven-year-old lad loves its looks) to its…
Tim Barnes-Clay feels the force in the new 2018 Honda Civic Type R
…brain churning performance, the 2018 Honda Civic Type R is now an out-and-out supercar. Yes, it’s a hot-hatch, but it is the most desirable one out there – in terms of looks, image and clout.
The latest version I tested in Germany – on road and track – just blows you away. The rear spoiler seems the size of an aeroplane wing – and the car is so hunkered down to the tarmac, you swear it’s sucking up asphalt for breakfast.
The underpinnings of the 2018 Type R are all box fresh. It’s lower, wider and longer – and it sits on a platform that is even stiffer than the departing model. The six-speed bolt action rifle-like manual gearbox is the same as before, but the powerplant’s muscle has been hiked from 310ps to 320ps.
Now, it might seem odd, but the car has been furnished with a comfort button on top of the Sport and +R settings. This is to give you some relief from the stiff suspension and growling alpha-male-esque drive. On the road, it means you can use this hot hatch without losing your fillings.
But if you’re like me, you’ll want to hoon around all day in testosterone dripping +R mode. Sport is awesome, but +R is the one when you’re either on track or in a ‘racer’ mood. Just be careful of your licence here in the UK, though. Out in Germany, I got 258kph (160mph) on the unrestricted sections of autobahn between Dresden and Berlin. And on track at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, near Klettwitz, I was too scared to look at the speedo.
But whether you’re on track or tarmac, the newest Type R astounds with its cornering ability and sheer refusal to become unstuck from the road surface. It inspires masses of confidence and makes you push yourself to limits you didn’t know you could get to. Is this dangerous in the real-world? Very probably. And it will mean many licenses lost over the coming years – but hopefully not lives.
So, what does it truly feel like to drive? Well, when diving into a bend, the rock-solid brake pedal is comforting and shaves speed off in an instant. The Type R never rolls and under no circumstances does it get disturbed by potholes or changes in the road surface. As I say, it is awesomely reassuring to pilot.
The front wheel drive car’s steering is pin-sharp and by no means feels skittish, you can tilt the Civic into turns eagerly. The feedback is spot on, so it’s easy to measure the amount of useable traction left on the tyres.
The 2018 Type R doesn’t sound as beast-like as you might imagine, but the low rumble is enough to satisfy, and the sweet free-revving feel of the powerplant just tops it all off. Another plus is that manual gearbox. The six cogs are precise and engaging when asked to change up or down – making you feel like a racing driver, whether you’re on track or not.
There’s a ‘normal’ Honda Civic Type R and a GT variety, which costs a couple of grand more. We drove the latter, and reckon the extra money is worth it. You get a bunch of extras that include LED front fog lights, an infotainment unit with sat-nav and an upgraded sound system. GT or regular Civic, though, the supercar-cum-hot-hatch looks astound – inside and out. Just check out the pictures to see for yourself!
The new Civic Type R’s driving position is bang on, too. The pedals are well-weighted, the manual gearstick feels good in the hand, and the steering wheel adjusts across a pleasing range. And as for the obligatory bucket seats, they’re far comfier than they look and they’re incredibly supportive – holding you firmly in place on corners when your brain is skewwhiff in your skull.
Even though the 2018 Type R is a pocket rocket, full of testosterone, it’s a practical hatchback, with five doors and a spacious boot. This makes the Civic a real all-rounder, albeit an ‘in your face’ one.
Overall, it must be said that 2018 Type R is car that you will relish driving – and never get sick of. I was genuinely gutted to only have two days with the car, and I can’t wait to try the Type R out in Britain. I’ll just have to find a track to take the Civic out on – but living in Northamptonshire, I’ll hardly be left without options.
So, yes, the car is an all-rounder, but if you plan on buying the latest Type R, know that it is more track oriented than challengers like the Ford Focus RS or VW Golf R. It is also more audacious – and therefore more fun.
Car reviewed: 2018 Honda Civic Type R – Base Price On the road £32,995 0-60mph 5.7 secs Top speed 169mph limited Fuel Economy combined 36.7mpg CO2 emissions 176g/km Engine VTEC 1996cc four-cylinder turbo petrol Max Power [email protected] Torque [email protected] Transmission 6-speed manual
Power and handling
Fun to the max
A confidence Inspiring drive
Slightly boy-racer image