2017 Honda Civic Type R quick review

By John Carey, 04 Jul 2017 Car Reviews

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2017 Honda Civic Type R quick review

It’s Honda’s entry into the raging hot hatch war, but does it live up to the hype?

There was a time, long ago, when Honda was unquestionably Japan’s most spirited and daring car maker, and this is the latest version of its Civic Type R hot hatch.

Tell me about this car:

The fifth-gen Honda Civic Type R is powered by a 228kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels though a six-speed manual gearbox exclusively. It will go on sale in Australia this October with a price tag of $50,990.

Strengths:

  • Manual gearbox: What joy it is to drive a Honda-made manual again! Quick, slick, and perfectly precise, this is a great gearbox. The metal sphere atop the stick is a treat to touch, too. It doesn’t take long to discover the Civic Type R’s new rev-matching feature is excellent. It can be switched off, but it’s hard to think of a reason why you’d want to.
  • Mid-range and top-end power: Our first drive included a portion of driving on sometimes unrestricted autobahn. A gap in the traffic presents an irresistible opportunity to squeeze the throttle to the stop in sixth. The Honda leaps forward and the speedometer is reading 240km/h and still rising when the time comes to back out of it. The Type R’s stability at this speed is impressive.

  • Steering: The Type R’s naturally nose-heavy weight distribution demands a lot from the front tyres, but their turn-in bite and drive-out grip is strong through longer corners, though the latter is aided by a good limited-slip differential and torque-vectoring-by-braking-the-inside-wheel tech.
  • Brakes: The Civic Type R rolls on 20-inch wheels wrapped in hefty 245/30ZR20 Continental SportContact 6 rubber. Big four-piston Brembo calipers bite the Honda’s drilled and ventilated front discs, while the solid rear discs are larger than on the standard Civic.

Weaknesses:

  • Looks: The further you are from the Honda Civic Type R, the better it looks. It’s hard to say exactly how far is far enough. Just keep walking until the details of its designer-frenzy exterior begin to blur. It’s a visually shouty assembly of aesthetic offences.

  • Interior quality: And while the steering wheel and deeply bolstered front seats hit the right hot hatch notes, the overall quality of the very well-equipped interior doesn’t reach the heights that Honda once regularly achieved.
  • Inner-city capabilities: It’s in city traffic that the Type R is less persuasive. The engine feels lethargic below 2500rpm, where it’s below the boost zone. Ride quality in Comfort mode is bearable rather than brilliant and Sport is only just tolerable.

Any rivals I should consider:

Ford Focus RS, Volkswagen Golf R, Peugeot 308 GTi 270