Where has the time gone?

It’s been five years since we last drove the Civic Type-R.

It was incredible then and it’s still an amazing car to drive, engineered to deliver a
thrilling driving experience and without doubt one of the best hot hatches in the

Even so the Type-R’s days are probably numbered as the world moves with
increasing speed towards an electric future where all cars will be lightning quick.
Think about that for a moment.

Type-R is priced from $72,600. That’s a national driveaway price and Honda says no
negotiations will be entered into. It’s also $12,000 or so more than the previous
Type-R by the time you add in on-road costs.

You can place your order now, but there’s just one hitch. Even at this price, you
could find yourself at the end of a rather long waiting list that now stretches out to
more than two years. As such we count ourselves lucky to be getting a drive now.

Remarkably, our test vehicle is finished in the same Sonic Grey colour as the
previous Type-R that we drove. But if that sounds a bit drab there’s also Rally Red,
Crystal Black and Championship White from which to choose.

A colleague prefers the black, but we reckon grey is the perfect foil for the red and
black highlights –of which there are many.

At 4606mm new Type-R is 37mm longer, 15mm wider and 13mm lower than the car
it replaces, while the wheelbase is 35mm longer.

And at a kerb weight of 1429kg weight-saving devices include an aluminium bonnet
which is 43 per cent lighter, a resin boot lid is 20 per cent lighter and smaller wheels
reduce unsprung mass by a significant 2.8kg at each corner.

At first sight the latest Type-R looks similar yet different to the model it replaces, with
seating for four, a good-sized boot and tyre repair kit in lieu of a spare.

A couple of cupholders are built into the centre of the back seat and while it is quite
roomy, rear seat passengers could find it a little claustrophobic, especially with no air

The tail lights are first point of difference, in keeping with the styling of the latest Civic
and while the triple signature exhausts remain, the rear spoiler is perhaps a trifle

Down the front the fascia is similar but different, while the air intake has moved
further forward on the bonnet.

The black wheels look pretty much the same, but the pinstripe has gone and if you
look closely, you’ll see they are now 19s instead of 20s, but wear wider tyres.
Michelin Pilot Sports, they are an impressive 265 x 30 in dimension, increasing the
car’s footprint on the road (and presumably grip).

Last time around they were Continentals.

The brakes are from Brembo again, ventilated at front and solid at the rear.

The 350mm front discs are equipped with Brembo four-piston aluminium calipers.
The rears are 305mm in size.

Moving inside, the cabin is at once familiar but different too.

The deep sports buckets would do a Ferrari proud, finished in bright vermilion red,
with red seatbelts and foot well trim and other red highlights to match, including red
ambient lighting.

The chunky steering wheel has lost some of its red, but is now trimmed in suede

Still not sure whether we like the feel and worry it might stick to some driving gloves.

A metal shifter and foot pedals complete the picture.

Technology has of course moved on and a touchscreen now perches atop the dash,
with a digital display replacing the previous analogue instrument cluster.

Standard equipment includes ‘suede-style’ fabric (ie. fake), two-zone climate air,
manual seat adjustment, LED head and tail lights, auto lights and wipers, auto
dimming mirror, front and rear parking sensors, radar cruise control, adaptive
suspension and a limited slip front diff.

There’s also a comprehensive data logging system for tracking the car, with
expanded capability that displays all sorts of info like cornering G-force.

Civic Type-R is covered by a 5-year warranty, 5-year roadside assistance and 5-year
capped price servicing, with free map updates for 5 years and a 5-year subscription
to on-line services.
Service is due every 12 months or 10,000km.

A 9.0-inch Advanced Display Audio touchscreen has been designed to minimise
driver distraction, with hard buttons and customisable shortcuts to use functions and
audio sources more often.

The system features Bluetooth, AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio, satellite navigation,
wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, wireless phone charger, plus 12 volt
and 2 x USB-A ports.

No mention of a brand or power output for the eight-speaker audio, suggesting it is
not worth talking about.

The previous one put out 160 watts.

The previous model produced 228kW of power at 6500 rpm and 400Nm of torque
from 2500 rpm, accelerating from 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds and using 8.8L/100km.

Changes to the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine up those figures to 235kW
of power and 420Nm of torque, the latter from 2600 revs this time.

They’re not huge gains but combined with a long list of refinements, promise even
higher levels of performance than before.

The dash from 0-100km/h has been trimmed to just 5.2 seconds and it uses
9.8L/100km — but seriously who cares?

The turbocharged engine is paired with a smooth, easy-to-use, quick-shifting six-
speed manual transmission with automatic rev-matching.

Topped with a solid aluminium shift knob, it has been engineered to deliver a crisp
change action with very low internal friction.

Drive is to the front wheels through a limited slip diff.

Although the car has not been tested for safety, the safety fit out is extensive, with 10
airbags, a 360-degree reverse camera, two child seat anchor points and a body
structure that has been optimised for safety.

The Honda Sensing safety system includes Blind Spot Monitor, Drive Attention
Monitor, Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Collision Mitigation Braking System
(CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS), Road
Departure Mitigation System (RDM), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), High Beam
Support System (HBSS) and Traffic Sign Recognition System (TSR).

It’s difficult to award points for safety without a means of quantifying them.

You can see from the figures that the latest Civic Type-R offers a little more power
and torque, but this is only a small part of the story.

The big improvement is in the body which is significantly more rigid, delivering
improved dynamics and refinement.

A helical-type limited-slip diff minimises wheel spin, allowing the vehicle to accelerate
harder on surfaces with uneven traction.

There are four drive modes as well as with adjustable suspension: Comfort, Sport,
+R and a new Individual mode.

An active exhaust valve changes the pitch of the engine depending on mode, but is
not loud enough.

The digital instrument cluster reflects the drive mode you chose, with a race style
look in +R that prioritises revs and the current gear, with a string of LEDs allowing
the driver to time the change up as you near the 7000 redline.

Talk about torque.

In most sports models you spend the time changing from second to third and back
again in corner-to-corner twisties, but in the Type-R the zone moves up to third and
fourth, even reaching fifth on longer straights.

An upgraded Electric Power Steering (EPS) system delivers pin-sharp steering, with
a stiffer torsion bar and improved software control resolution to enhance steering feel
and control.

Steering weight is adjustable too in settings.

The trick for getting the most comfortable, satisfying result is to put it in the new
Individual mode, tick all the +R settings then switch the suspension to Comfort which
stops the car from crashing through potholes.

And here’s the good bit, the car remembers and retains the drive mode settings
between starts.

Grip is phenomenal and the car remains remarkably settled over undulations.

At one point we thought we’d blown a tyre after it crashed through a large pothole,
but it survived unscathed.

On the downside tyre noise ramps up quickly when moving from smooth to coarse

The Brembos are exceptional and will stand the car on its front wheels if asked to.

All in all, the Type-R is a fantastic car to drive.

Rated at 8.9L/100km, we were getting 9.3L/100km after close to 400km.
But this dropped to just 6.5L on an easy, sixth gear run down the motorway which
suggests it will be economical over longer distances.

Sure, it’s expensive, but as they say — you get what you pay for.

The Civic Type-R has been refined in every possible way, a work of love that is a
testament to Honda’s savvy engineers.

It’s a rip snorter of a car to drive, just as happy to go shopping as it is to blast around
a race track, a genuinely thrilling car to drive that is well worth the wait.

The competitors could be faster on paper, but remember this is the car that holds the
record for a front-wheel drive production vehicle at the famous Nurburgring race
circuit. Enough said?

Looks: 8/10
Performance: 9/10
Safety: 7.5/10
Thirst: 7/10
Practicality: 5/10
Comfort: 7/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 8/10
Overall: 7.4/10


Honda Civic Type-R, $72,600
Note: This is a national, non-negotiable driveaway price.

Honda Civic Type-R four-seat hatch, 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo petrol, 6spd manual, FWD

Capacity: 2.0 litres
Configuration: DOHC VTEC Turbo In line 4-cylinder
Maximum Power: 235kW @ 6500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 420Nm @ 2600 – 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium 95 RON unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.9L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 203g/km

6-spd manual with rev matching, front-wheel drive

Length: 4606 mm
Wheelbase: 2735 mm
Width: 1890 mm
Height: 1407 mm
Turning Circle: 11.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1429kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 47 litres

Front: 350mm ventilated disc brakes (front) with Brembo 4-Piston Aluminium Front
Brake Callipers
Rear: 305mm solid disc brakes

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Chris Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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