The eye-popping Honda Civic Type R GT Review

In Car Reviews, Honda by Tom Scanlan

"Zero to 62 mph is down at 5.8 seconds. Top speed is 169 mph. Cornering potential is immense. Brembo braking is eye-popping..."

Having driven, within the law, seventy-five miles to Brands Hatch, in a Honda Civic Type-R, and having seen the two race-track Type-Rs finish first and second in extraordinarily close BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) races, the boy in me wanted to drive home again at very high speed.

Tom Scanlan struggles to put the boy racer back in the box with the Honda Type R GT
Apart from accelerating hard onto the then-empty main road out of Brands Hatch, the boy in me took a back seat.

So, given the fantastic performance actually available from 320PS and 400Nm of torque, what is the point of a car like this?

Zero to 62 mph is down at 5.8 seconds. Top speed is 169 mph. Cornering potential is immense. Brembo braking is eye-popping.

It’s just that you can never use all of it in sequence. However, you can experience the first three in carefully-controlled situations on the open road. In Germany, you might still find an Autobahn for a maximum speed attempt. A big plus is that overtaking is made much safer by the instant in which it can be done in almost any gear.

The Type-R is of course somewhat different from the BTCC car. The body-shell has not been completely taken apart and re-riveted together: no glue to catch fire and a car able to absorb bumping and bashing; there is no wood in the floor: airflow and ground-effect in the equation here; there’s a lot more that’s different and 1000 man-hours per car would put the price up a bit!

Back to day-to-day on the road, then where the car is a competent all-rounder.

Forget the radical and head-turning can be a meek family car as much as a smile-a-mile sports machine.

Getting in and out is slightly more challenging than some because of the shape of the seats. But the door is lightweight and isn’t going to crunch your shins if it swings back on you.

The front seats are excellently comfortable (their two-colour styling mimics a full race harness) and are adjusted manually. The passengers in the back have little in the way of their own controls, but it’s comfortable back there and there are grab-handles if the driver is going some!

The boot is quite spacious, stepped a bit higher towards the rear seat-backs. These fold down very easily to extend the boot area. Under the spare wheel.

The test car was shod with Continental Extra Load tyres, or rubber bands as someone remarked. Yes, they are very low profile and the ease with which those smart alloys might get curbed remained etched into my brain every time I had to park on any road.


Noise levels varied a lot according to the road surface (deafening stretches on the M25) and speed. Hard acceleration in the Type R produced a satisfying exhaust boom, whilst cruising sedately at 70mph, 2700 rpm, there was no need to raise voice-levels for conversation.

Cornering fast, given the opportunity, shows off the Type-R at its most capable, especially as the seats hold you in so well. Hugely enjoyable and a major part of the reason for buying such a car.

The brakes are mighty powerful, too, of course, but unless warmed up enough, which usually won’t occur on your average journey, squeal loudly as you slow down in low-speed town traffic. This issue is a well-known characteristic with a no-compromise hard compound the underlying cause, I am told.

The six-speed gear-change is a delight...but be prepared for an icy-cold gearstick knob on a winter morning! For general shorter trips, Comfort mode was used most, with Sport for the motorways, with its lighter, more responsive throttle; +R is for the car at its sportiest....on the track. In Comfort, the ride was not too hard. Same for Sport on smoother, faster roads.

The GT bit in the name is the top-spec version, costing £2000 more and adding on not performance but hi-tech safety and convenience features helping the driver to keep the car and passengers out of trouble.

The satnav was more praiseworthy than many in that it was simple to turn off voice-guidance while keep the route map; adjusting the screen brightness and switching between day and night mode was just as simple, via a button at the top of the screen. Finger pressure on the screen itself could have been a bit more sensitive for my liking and I would strongly recommend learning how to use the voice command system. It did take time to get the system to do exactly what you want, in my case at least when it didn’t recognise my street name or post-code but understood my town’s name.

The smart cabin is well-fitted out with nooks and crannies for this and that. The night-time instrument lighting continues the quality design.
Fuel consumption on my test varied. The screen revealed an average of 29.3 mpg, with better than that, as much as 44 mpg on one trip, quite easily achievable. With just a 46-litre tank the range is not great unless a lot of driving is on motorways.

Overall the Honda Type R GT is a superb performance car. Best, though, to stick to track days for real fun.

Car reviewed: Honda Civic 2.0 VTEC Turbo Type R GT - On the road £33,525 0-62mph 5.8 secs Top speed 169mph Fuel Economy combined 36.7mpg CO2 emissions 176g/km Engine 1996cc 4-cylinder premium unleaded EU6 Max Power Engine [email protected] Engine Torque [email protected] Transmission 6-speed manual

  • A competent all-rounder

  • Radical and head-turning looks

  • Great fun, always

  • smart alloys might easily get curbed

What the others say about the Honda Civic Type-R on YouTube...

About the author
Tom Scanlan

Tom Scanlan

'Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars. He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0. In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.'

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