The Honda Civic Type R is as fast as it looks. With its steroidal wheel arches, fat stance, mess of ducts and vents and that shamelessly huge rear wing, it makes a statement of its ability – a true one.
Yet again, we were reminded of its blistering speed at Winton Motor Raceway, the scene of two of the Type R’s recent glories, those being partly where it earned its 2018 MOTOR Performance Car of the Year title but more recently, where it beat all-comers at 2018 Bang For Your Bucks.
This time, the Type R was on workhorse duty, supporting other shoots we had at Winton that day. But, as ever, we weren’t going to miss an opportunity for a few quick laps around the track in this fantastic car.
Full disclosure, this is not a full-blown track test update – that will come later. We wanted instead to dive into the MOTOR vault to really put into perspective how quick this car is.
For a start, its 1:35.9sec lap around Winton, in the hands of our tame racing driver Warren Luff, is interestingly the same time, to the tenth, as the Ford Focus RS Limited Edition. That’s despite its higher outputs, excellent all-wheel drive system and, critically, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
To try to explain that solely by the 200kg weight difference would undersell the Type R’s abilities. The mid-corner grip it extracts from its 245/30 ZR20 Continental SportContact 6 tyres is incredible, and we salivate at the thought of trying this car on Michelin Cup 2 rubber, which is what it was wearing for its front-drive Nürburgring record lap. Perhaps we’ll get a chance in the coming months.
MOTOR Tyre Test 2018: Results
By our calculations, based on some credible data, the Type R could dip below the 1:34sec mark with the trick Cup 2 tyres. Even sub-1:35 would be staggeringly fast for a front-drive car.
To give some perspective, at Performance Car of the Year 2007 the 997 Porsche 911 GT3 did a 1:34.2sec lap, Luffy driving. True, if you put modern tyres on it, it would doubtless wipe seconds off that time, not to mention Winton’s been resurfaced since then, yet on period-correct rubber, and the Type R on Cup 2s, it’s possible the Honda hot hatch would be faster.
It’s also curious to consider the times the E-Series HSV Maloo set at PCOTY that year. In 2007 this was a thumping 6.0-litre V8-powered ute and its 0-400m time was 13.85sec – about the same as a Civic Type R.
Not to embarrass the big, old Maloo, which then and now made no claim at being a scintillating lap time machine, but the Civic Type R would make mincemeat of it around Winton, the Maloo’s lap time 1:42.06sec.
In fact it would take less than 15 laps for the Type R to catch it, perhaps fewer as the Maloo’s brakes would have given up long before then. (It’s also probable that in 10 years we’ll be laughing at how slow the Type R looks against the latest Janome autonomous pod. But forget that, this is now, and for $52K the Type R is seriously quick.)
As for our two months so far in the Type R away from the circuit, we are loving it, which may not surprise given we just gave it our biggest accolades one apiece. But us liking it was never guaranteed and it’s not all been smooth sailing. We keep closing our eyes and hoping a volume knob would magically appear on the stereo so we don’t have to keep madly tapping the infotainment screen.
The Type R is, oddly, a four-seat car. In Australia, if you imagine a Type R-driving deso on a night out, this is as likely to place a loose projectile of a human into the back seat, with a clear passage to the windscreen, as it is to force a rethink of the transport plan.
It irritates us that you can’t combine Comfort dampers and Sport engine. In Comfort mode, the engine has had a few too many sakes, meaning when gaps in traffic open, you gun for them like Will Smith gunned for the exit of the alien mothership in Independence Day. Except unlike Big Willy, sometimes you don’t quite make it.
There are more gripes, but we will save them for future updates for fear of running out of things to complain about. Seriously. Next month, though, we talk styling – hold on tight.
Getting to grips with our long-term reviews
Follow our journey with our Honda Civic Type R Long Termer:
- Part 1
2018 Honda Civic Type R Pros & Cons
Three things we're falling for:
1 - It’s just a little joy
2 - Rides really well
3 - Keyless entry
Three things we're not fond of:
1 - Average stereo
2 - Can be a bit ‘tinny’
3 - No seat heaters...