Honda Civic Type-R

Honda Civic Type R lr

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By Tim Saunders

Do you like to make an entrance? Are you an attention seeker? Then you simply must drive the Honda Civic Type-R.

No sooner has the bright red Civic arrived on the drive every passer-by stops to admire its cool design. “Look at those exhausts,” gasps my son Henry (5). It looks like a rocket. The rear is certainly striking thanks to the massive spoiler and then there are the subtle red brake callipers. Stroll round to the front and there are air vents by the side of the front doors; they're on the bonnet, too further adding to its racing credentials. I wouldn’t like this behind me, that’s for sure. This is a Civic with a difference. A package to please any boy racer. A 169mph sports car for just over £30,000. A very easy way to lose that precious driving licence. So much respect is required. It reminds me of a considerably more expensive Maserati, which when the engine is started, the ground beneath literally vibrates. Although this doesn’t happen in the Honda the engine does vibrate the driver’s feet in the footwell.

There’s a three-mode driving system operated by a switch in the centre next to the front passenger seat that allows the driver or passenger for that matter to choose between Comfort, Sport or +R setting. Basically Comfort is for everyday driving, a more relaxed setting, Sport gives a little enhancement while +R unleashes everything it has to offer, ideal for a track day. The latter is sort of Maserati mode; a louder noise from that exhaust, tighter suspension. In fact driving in +R mode reminds me of the time I went on a Honda powerboat; the same type of g-force is thrust upon the occupants. Definitely one for the adrenalin junkies among you.

I do like the red and black suede steering wheel; very comfy to hold and the slightly squashed circle shape of the wheel is appealing. The power steering is quite hard and race car like as you might expect, compared to other cars.

“The doors are tough to shut, though,” says Caroline, who is known to stretch out her left arm behind her, when seated in the front passenger seat, to shut the rear passenger door for the children. But not in the Honda.

“It’s a bit plasticky,” criticizes Lin, Caroline’s mum when we meet for a socially distanced walk.

The driver’s seat hugs its occupant and the red and black suede is good quality. The red suede covered steering wheel continues the luxurious sporty feel. There’s a six-speed manual gearbox and an electric handbrake. It’s an absolute joy to drive. The post girl is just delivering some letters to us as I start the engine and it lets out a hearty roar. She takes a step back in surprise and can’t resist a double take. Oh what fun. This is the start of what is to become a succession of admiring glances throughout our travels.

Dare to push the accelerator down and the roar grows louder reminiscent of the Incredible Hulk. Leaving the traffic lights not a single motorist dares to take it on. Joining the motorway in third gear its roar is enough to see an approaching car pull back respectfully. That is the joy, the Type R commands great respect. Here is a car that nobody dares to tailgate, which is so nice. Stick to the 30mph speed limit and so does everyone else. Unfortunately, this does not happen on the motorway with its 50mph average speed limit that few apart from me adhere to.   

It comes loaded with the usual refinements including an easy to use sat nav, all round electric windows and power folding wing mirrors. The cruise control is nice and easy to operate, too. There’s a good size boot.

I have driven my fair share of Civics and have become accustomed to the fact that they will accommodate five occupants. I was expecting the Type R to be the same. But unfortunately not so. Although five can fit, there are only four seatbelts, which is annoying when there are five of us.

Facts at a glance

Price: From £30,805
Top speed: 169mph
0 to 60mph: 5.5secs
Power: 306bhp
Economy: 33mpg

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