First Drives: 2020 Honda Civic Type-R, latest, greatest

In Car Reviews by Tim Barnes-Clay

Honda has intensified the magnetism of the Type R

New Sport Line and Limited Edition models are available for 2020. Each offers a different angle on the standard GT, further widening the appeal of the Japanese motor maker’s accolade-acquiring hatchback.

The Limited Edition hunk of metal is the most uncompromising Type R. It’s crafted for the track, with a decluttered cabin and lightweight elements, both of which are responsible for the vehicle’s 47kg weight reduction.

The next addition is the Sport Line, which been assembled to appeal to motorists who want a slightly diluted “boy racer” look, but who still crave the performance that is the trademark of Type Rs. The Sport Line bears a low posterior spoiler instead of the accustomed high-level one – and is furnished with 19-inch alloy wheels.

Each version of the upgraded Type R series comes, of course, with front-wheel drive. What’s more, all cars in the extensive Type R troop, including the Type R GT, receive improvements. A more blatant grille, LED running lights and headlights help give a tidier visual impact. The suspension has also been adjusted for a sharper feel and more “on your toes” handling. 

Inside, all forms of the Asian hatch exude a simple and sleek look to match the toned exterior. This is done with lines of latitude that put emphasis on the feeling of width and length, and therefore capaciousness.

Honda has also reworked the infotainment system and climate controls by introducing physical buttons and dials for optimum usability. 

Additionally, the driver’s binnacle now has an LCD screen that encompasses virtual gauges as well as a medley of function figures. 

What’s more, a performance data logger now forms part of the R’s equipment list. Termed the “Honda LogR”, it hitches the car’s sensors and computer with a ‘phone app that enables you to monitor assorted performance aspects. It also helps amplify your driving skills to produce a driving score. 

So, what did I think of the up-to-date Type R on the move? Well, it blew me away – the model is scrunched so low to the bitumen that you swear it’s swallowing blacktop for breakfast.

The modernised model keeps the same 2.0-litre VTEC petrol turbo lump, and the six-speed manual gearbox has been improved due to a bit of “rev match control” tech. This makes sure the hatch keeps on performing when it comes to behind-the-wheel gratification.

Now, it might seem peculiar, but the scorching Civic has a comfort button as well as Sport and +R modes. It’s there simply to give you some let-up from the rigid suspension and heavy-metal-like driving noise.

But whichever setting you use, the trailblazing Type R renders you awestruck with its 0-62mph time of sub-six seconds. The steering is pin-sharp, and the feedback is just right. This means it’s a piece of pie to evaluate the amount of exploitable traction left on the R’s rubber. The Civic inspires tons of confidence, especially when zooming into a turn. The Jap-hatch never sways, and the brawny brakes are reassuring, trimming down the pace in no time at all.

The Type R’s driving position is bang on, too. And the high-backed sports seats are comfier than they first appear to be. They hold you in place in bends when your grey matter is catching up inside your cranium.

Even though the R is brimming with white-hot might, it’s still a functional hatchback, with five doors and an expansive boot. Load capacity is 420 litres, and loading weighty, wide and long objects is stress-free, thanks to a low sill and a charitable boot opening.

I was gutted to have had only one day with the latest R, and I’m biting at the bit to drive it for longer. I’ll just have to locate a track to hoon the Honda around on – but at least there’s not a shortage of them in Britain!

Pros’ n’ Cons Entertaining , quick, crazy (in a good way!) but slightly pricey to buy or lease.

Car reviewed: Honda Type R GT, on the road price £34,820 0-62mph 5.8secs Top speed 168mph Engine 1996cc 4 cylinder unleaded Euro 6 Fuel Economy Combined 33.2mpg CO2 emissions WLPT combined 193g/km Max Power 320PS@6500rpm Torque 400Nm@2500-4500rpm Transmission 6-speed manual / front wheel drive

Tim Barnes-Clay

Motoring Journalist

Tim Barnes-Clay qualified as a journalist in 1994 and is a member of the Midland Group of Motoring Writers. He initially trained in broadcast journalism and has worked as a reporter and news reader at various radio stations in East Anglia and the Midlands. He has also been a motoring journalist for the Mirror Group’s L!ve TV cable network and a presenter, reporter and producer at ITV Central in Birmingham. Tim is now an automotive writer, focusing on car reviews. He has media accreditation with all motor manufacturers’ press offices, and this enables him to test drive the latest cars. He also attends new vehicle press launches at home and abroad.

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