Our Performance Car of the Year winner has ruffled some feathers.
According to numerous letters and messages, we’re all smoking something here at MOTOR, or it was Honda that left a seriously fat envelope in the glovebox for us to give the gong to its bewinged, $51K Civic Type R. It’s the most controversial winner of Australia’s leading performance car award since the S15 200SX beat the 911 Turbo in 2001.
Yet, there the Type R is on the top step of the podium, a place it deserves to be.
Now, I don’t feel the need to defend our decision. We know what we’re doing, we drive hundreds of new performance cars every year on road and track, every new model, and between us we have decades of testing experience.
We love brilliant performance cars and we know one when we drive one, and the Civic Type R is one of those. I’ll confess, I had low expectations before driving it.
I thought the turbocharged engine would be dopey, wheezy and torque-steery. I thought both ends of the car wouldn’t talk to each other and Honda would’ve gunned for the conservative end of the understeer-oversteer spectrum. I presumed it would be bumpy and uncomfortable.
Frankly, I thought I’d drive it once or twice at PCOTY and then spend most of my time in other things. “Holy crap, that Honda is good!” I remember David Reynolds exclaiming with a puzzled look on his face.
He’d just booted it up our road-test loop. It was my turn next. And I will never forget the feeling of having learned a lesson in keeping an open mind, because the fast, frenetic yet composed and cool Civic Type R was so far off my expectations, I was blown away. And the fact I rated it so highly had nothing to do with the yawning expectation gap – this is a truly fantastic, fast, satisfying and fun performance car.
Don’t think it’s worthy? Go drive one. Wear a blindfold and have someone lead you to the driver’s seat if you must. Take the blindfold off, obviously.
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