You hear that? That’s the sound of my pulse racing.
It’s an undeniable reaction when you jump into a Honda Civic Type R. I mean, who doesn’t get excited at the prospect of driving a hot hatch?
This is the 10th generation of the iconic Honda hatch priced from a reasonable $50,990.
It has different look than previous versions, being not so compact (built up from the longer updated Civic), which is a nice refresh to the model.
The Civic Type R is eye catching to say the least.
It just looks outstanding but may be slightly overdone though it adds interest at a time when curves and rounded edges are the norm, and is refreshing to see some sharps lines and parts jutting out.
The exterior is adorned with a lot of embellishments such as side skirts, air intakes, splitters, diffusers, grilles, spoilers and black faux carbon fibre trims and red lines.
All the action is the back with 3D taillights, a central triple exhaust, spoiler and of course in the unmistakable massive wing.
Being so high, it may seem ridiculous to some, but it makes sense from the driver’s seat with the wing shaped to the rear windscreen and not obstructing the rear view.
There were however, some minor body panel alignment issues.
The red and black colour scheme carries into the interior with red and black racing style seats with mesh and vents, floor mats, steering wheel, dashboard highlights, red stitching, and striking red seat belts.
The graphic colours on the touchscreen and driver info display are also selectable so you can choose red to match.
The little ‘Type R’ badge below the gear stick is fastened with rivets is a nice touch, giving it a more industrial feel of a performance vehicle.
This is connected to a high floor console with retractable armrest which I don’t really think suits the Type R but is based on the current Civic design upgrade.
Your phone can be kept out of sight with a hidey-hole under the centre dash housing USB and HDMI ports and a cavity leading up to the main cubby to keep the cord hidden.
Rear seats have ISOFIX anchors but only two tether points.
As mentioned, the touchscreen and instrument panel possess modern colour graphics which really enhances the whole experience.
The touchscreen, like many Honda models, doesn’t come with sat-nav – you’ll need to hook up to your phone for that – but it is fitted with DAB+ and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
While the temperature and fuel gauges formed by red and green lights and the rest of the driving info is on a large colour screen with dynamic graphics.
The driver info displays a G-force meter, turbo gauge and lap timer.
Some comfort features include dual climate control, electric park brake with auto hold and release, auto head lights and wipers.
An interesting feature in the boot (which is ample for a car this size) is the cargo blind that, instead of pulling back from a large horizontal bar, is a small retractable blind that can be extended from one side to the other.
In spite of the cool design and features, the drive is really where it’s at with the Civic Type R.
It’s all you’d expect from a hot hatch – aggressive, sporty, in control and dynamic.
With three drive modes – the default Sports, Comfort and the ultimate +R – you can adjust the steering weight, power and suspension.
There is amazing power really opening up in third gear; even Comfort mode is no slouch.
While there is plenty of might from the 228kW/400Nm engine, it doesn’t feel like there is immense power, yet you’re at 100+ kph in no time.
Honda cars have a good reputation for being stable and comfortable and this sporty variety is no different.
Another reason why is that the exhaust note doesn’t have the expected rumble which is disappointing really, though Honda says the centre exhaust ‘enhances sound quality and minimises booming noise’.
Handling is a standout and is great at sticking corners from what is a front-wheel drive, assisted by the limited-slip differential to reduce wheel spin.
This experience is heightened by the tight, direct steering and quick gear shifter with well-defined gates.
You can move through the six-speed transmission quickly and smoothly aided by the automatic rev matching system in Comfort and Sport that sets the rpms to match the next gear selection.
The suspension is of course firmer than your average car, though nowhere near as bone jarring as in the Ford Focus RS even with huge 20” alloys.
During my drive, fuel consumption was 11L/100km which is not bad considering it was put through its paces.
Through all of this there is one failing in the large turning circle.
It isn’t all that small so the Type R struggles to make it round tight bends and corners like its similar rivals.
We could put this down to the longer body, however, the wheelbase hasn’t increased by that much.
Safety is important in a car of this nature and the Type R has it all: lane departure warning, collision mitigation, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control with the Honda LKAS (Lane Keep Assist System) if you’re a little lazy.
Another Honda novelty is the lane watch camera with a view down the left side of the vehicle when indicating.
- New styling
- Exterior design
- Handling and cornering
- Drive modes
- Included features
Not so good bits
- Turning circle
- Body panel gap
Another strong alternative in the hot hatch class up against the likes of the Ford Focus RS and VW Golf R.
With a new look, strong specs, power and incredible driving dynamics it’s sure to keep fans happy.
The Honda Civic Type R may not be everyone’s cup of tea, style wise, but it certainly draws attention.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Honda Civic Type R
- Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder turbo petrol 228kW/400Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual
- Warranty: 5 Yrs
- Safety: Not yet tested
- Origin: United Kingdom
- Price: From $50,990