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2018 Honda Civic Type R long-term review

By Dylan Campbell, 02 Jan 2019 Reviews

2018 Honda Civic Type R long-term review Part 1 feature

2018 Performance Car of the Year and Bang for your Bucks champion drops its bags at MOTOR HQ

Introduction: A Champion's welcome

OUR DOUBLE Performance Car of the Year and Bang For Your Bucks champion has found its way into the MOTOR garage for the next six issues.

During this time, we will establish whether or not the phenomenal driving experience the Honda Civic Type R offers, can be reconciled with some other, shall we say less than salubrious facets. In particular, a very busily styled, very unpopular exterior, and an interior that’s also a bit hit and miss.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

But for me personally, I will be trying to open my mind to the idea of owning a Honda at all. I’m not a Honda guy; my favourite all-time Honda is the S2000, a car that sits out on its own in Honda’s performance car history.

A screaming, north-south atmo four in the front sending power via a blissful six-speed manual and limited slip differential to the rear wheels – nothing like it has worn a Honda badge since. As for other Honda performance royalty, I appreciate the original NSX but don’t lust after one, same for the DC2 Integra Type R and EK Civic Type R.

I only mention all this because I know a lot of readers feel the same way. And so here I am, self-professed non-Honda person, with the keys to a front-drive hot hatch with a big, fat, red Honda badge on the front of it.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very, very happy about this. That’s largely because when it comes to driving very fast, it’s hard to talk about the Civic Type R without sounding like you’re an exaggerating lunatic.
But there are true things about this car and the way it drives. The controls are a total delight to use, at any speed, and some of the best feeling of any new performance model. The handling, helped by the independent rear end and spot-on adaptive dampers, is sublime.

The turbocharged 2.0-litre engine is punchy, reasonably responsive and strong, with an exhilarating, frenetic buzz about its upper revs. A Torsen limited slip differential is fairly effective at getting the not insignificant 228kW/400Nm to the ground, with minimal torque steer. And while it’ll get smoked by, say, a Ford Focus RS with its launch control and all-wheel drive to 100km/h, the smart money will see that at the end of 400m, the Type R is going faster.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

It’s also a lot faster mid-corner. In fact, we struggle to think of another modern performance car, anywhere, that does so much with such relatively modest rubber, the Type R extracting every last ounce of purchase from its 245/30 ZR20 Continental SportContact 6 tyres. The speed you can carry into corners in the Type R is eye-opening.

This partly explains its blistering 7:43.8sec Nürburgring Nordschleife laptime, the fastest of any front-drive car ever, and one which knocks off a whole generation of legendary machines. Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, 996 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, E46 BMW M3 CSL – all the hero cars of MOTOR yesteryear – the Civic Type R would outpace around the ’Ring. Gives you confused feelings, doesn’t it?

In the news: Civic Type R lap record campaign ends

Of course, despite that staggeringly talented chassis, giant-killing laptime potential and delightful controls, perfection eludes the Type R. In just one week of driving it, I have outwardly shouted profanities at its horribly unintuitive, almost deliberately difficult infotainment and trip computer interfaces.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

I strongly resent that, for controlling the audio volume, there is a weird, tactile-less touchpad thing on the infotainment screen. The volume knob did not need reinvention. Nor did hiding some of the most common HVAC controls in a sub-menu of the centrescreen. I can only hope that with time, these are things I’ll get used to.

While I’m moaning about this otherwise awesome car, I need to address the fluoro pink elephant quivering behind the lampshade in the corner of the room.

Opinion: Give the Civic Type R a chance

Normally at MOTOR, we don’t rate a car’s styling; we rate how it drives, take the most flattering photos possible of it and leave how it looks up to you. But as this is a long-term test and the Type R’s styling has proven such a conversation starter, I feel I can give my opinion.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

I’m still making up my mind. I think it looks tough from very specific angles, but stray beyond them and it can look very overstyled or just plain wrong. Sometimes at a glance it looks like a Pokemon on all fours, about to attack; at others, like its cheeks are all squashed up in an open-face helmet.

We’ll explore the Type R’s styling more in a future update, but I do think it has some redeeming details. I quite like the NACA duct on the bonnet. I don’t even mind the rear wing.

Over the next six months, we’ll see whether the Type R’s most off-putting attributes can be tolerated for the epic drive on offer. And if an openly non-Honda guy can fall in love with one very talented ugly duckling. 

Would familiarity breed contempt? On MOTOR long-term reviews

2018 Honda Civic Type R

2018 Honda Civic Type R Pros & Cons

Three things we're excited for: 
1 - Driving it on track
2 - Driving it on road
3 - Driving it, full stop

Three things we're nervous for: 
1 - Looking at it 
2 - Being seen in it
3 - Giving it back

Update 1: Times are changing

Putting the Type R’s lap times into perspective

2018 Honda Civic Type R

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.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

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.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

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.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

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.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

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

2018 Honda Civic Type R

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...

Update 2: Civic Virtues

Three months in, what we’re loving – & loathing

2018 Honda Civic Type R

YOU’VE READ that the Honda Civic Type R drives brilliantly, but what is it like to do 5000km in one? Let us regale you in the things beguiling and bugging. Broadly speaking, it’s a case of so far, so good – to the point that, despite personally being neither a Honda nor a hot hatch person, I would easily buy one. Seriously.

The bulk of kilometres have been urban and no complaints there, as the Type R rides very nicely with its adaptive dampers in Comfort mode, somewhat of an achievement with 20-inch wheels and 30-profile tyres.

The manual gearshift is a joy; in fact, it’s so forgiving and enjoyable to use, clutch included, not even in the heaviest of congestion have we longed for an auto. Part of that has to do with the rev-matching software (which can be turned off), also matching revs up gears for spooky smooth changes.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

It’s with the gearbox we encounter the first of our gripes; on a couple of occasions we’ve encountered an odd crunch with a quick gear change, even when warm, as if the synchros are tired (which surely is not the case). It’s an experience reported by other owners.

While the Type R accelerates like a startled possum and we enjoy the flexible, turbocharged mid-range torque, we have found occasion to miss not having all-wheel drive: in the rain. Know those traffic lights they have on Melbourne freeway on-ramps? An all-wheel drive Mercedes A250 Sport made us look silly, for crying out aloud. And in the wet, sometimes it’s as much the (quite ugly) axle tramp holding you back as wheelspin itself.

The Type R certainly doesn’t sound anything like the way it looks. Where a Ford Focus RS or even Hyundai i30 N can be a bit fun and rorty even off idle, at lower rpms the Type R’s engine note is snoozy, actually like some sort of electrical appliance. There are no exhaust crackles or pops here, no matter the rpm or engine mode. It’s certainly one of the more behaved-sounding hot hatches.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

Fortunately it somewhat redeems in the upper revs, a frenetic noise with more than a trace of the delicious old atmo VTEC DNA, the whole car excitedly fizzing with rpms like the engine mounts are solid.

In the interior, while the four-seat thing has caught us out once, the Type R makes up for it in the practicality stakes as the rear seats fold down to create an enormous extended boot.

This month it was also interesting to jump into a lesser Civic RS model and discover you can adjust the volume by lightly swiping your thumb up a touch-sensitive, friction-less pad on the steering wheel.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

This same pad is on the Type R’s steering wheel, but apparently Honda turned it off after some owners accidentally, in an instant, swiped the volume to maximum while driving (quite a fun scenario to imagine). We wish that decision was left to new owners who aren’t oafs – the sensitive thumbpad is actually not a bad volume knob alternative – however there is no such option in the menu.

Other thoughts – the stereo is nothing special. Sometimes it sounds tinny, other times it sounds good, other times it’s like there is too much treble – it’s proving tricky to get the settings right. Audiophiles keen on a Type R, beware.

We have horribly mixed feelings on the exterior styling. We’re not sure if it’s growing on us or if we’re simply getting used to it. From some angles we find ourselves thinking, that looks great! From others, you want to look away... especially the rear bar.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

That the car is so good, doubtless makes it look better. Enzo Ferrari said, “racecars are neither beautiful nor ugly. They become beautiful when they win”. Perhaps there’s some truth in this in the case of the superbly engineered Type R.

As ever, for those for whom no level of brilliance can improve the styling, the aftermarket is only too ready to help with styling bits. There’s a simpler, more open front centre grille with red Honda badge.

The central element of the rear wing can be replaced with a carbon-fibre item. You can even buy specially shaped panels that go on the lower trailing edge of the rear doors, which fill out the otherwise inelegantly scalloped rear arches. All these five per cent improvements add up.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

The next level again is fitting aftermarket, lower offset wheels, perhaps with some lowering springs – a look that really improves the Type R (and a strategy I’m a fan of), but in the case of this Honda hot hatch, I’d be torn as you don’t really buy one for anything other than its Porsche-like handling, which I’d be too scared to stuff up. If looks matter more to you than handling, buy something else.

We know the Type R is a bit epic on a circuit. Next month, we see how it holds up to a proper day at the track.

No short stints on Long-term reviews

2018 Honda Civic Type R

2018 Honda Civic Type R Pros & Cons

Three things we're falling for: 
1 - Driving position
2 - Ride quality
3 - Driving it... full stop

Three things we're not fond of: 
1 - Axle tramp in wet
2 - Road/tyre noise
3 - Turning circle

Update 3: Track tryst 

Superb track outing ultimately cut short

2018 Honda Civic Type R

Curiously, in the USA the Honda Civic Type R has a cult following for – no kidding – how it looks. Immediately after taking delivery, many owners fit lower, stiffer springs along with more aggressive wheels. Granted, this has a fairly transformative effect on the car’s looks, yet messes with the handling of possibly the most accomplished front-drive performance car ever made.

We think we’ll stick with the way it looks if it means the handling is untouched. This month, we were reminded of the Type R’s chassis brilliance yet again as we subjected our Championship White long-termer to a proper hard outing at the track. Sandown Raceway, in fact (and despite the Winton photos) with Evolve Driving.

Able to focus on the Type R over multiple sessions, we gained a deeper understanding of its not-insignificant talent. For a start, it’s very easy to get comfortable in the Type R – it takes very little time to work your way up to its limits. From there, you are struck by its lovely controls, tenacious lateral grip, improbably good traction and frenetic acceleration, 206km/h reached at the end of the back straight.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

But also, you notice it has the stability of a car with a longer wheelbase – probably owing to the independent rear end – yet you can still hustle it through tight corners like a smaller vehicle, no doubt thanks to the fact it weighs a relatively lithe 1380kg.

The weight, or lack of, subtly enhances almost every aspect of the Type R experience on track. There is no patience required of the tyres and brakes like in a heavier car.

The Type R, too, is superbly poised, a slight default understeer easily tweaked the other way on the brakes into corners, where you find yourself asking more and more of the outside front tyre – and it obliging – balancing an obedient rear end on the brakes.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

And boy does it work its outside-front hard at Sandown. Erm, sorry Honda, you might want to order a new set of Continentals for the car. And for those who own a Type R and intend to track it, we suggest replacing the SportContact 6s with more track-focused rubber like a Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, the tyre Honda used for its Nürburgring front-drive record.

The excellent Contis, while remaining the pick for road use, need to be carefully monitored and nursed during a track day and ideally rotated between sessions. Their addictive lateral grip and feel, combined with relative on-track fragility, is exactly the test of self-restraint you go to a track day to get away from. And so there was very little tyre nursing on our part, and no rotation, the outside front tyre lasting three 20-minute sessions before we had to park the car.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

The Brembo brakes fared much better, withstanding more consecutive hard laps than a normal merciful owner might subject them to. The pedal was always there and always worked, although towards the end of their very heavy workout the stock pads and rotors started to wilt. Later, back on the road, unfortunately they very much felt like they had spent time on a track.

We would suggest fitting aftermarket pads and rotors if you intend to track your R. Also, keep off the curbs on the stock wheels. It seems that the 30-profile tyres distort enough at the ragged edge that if you let the car run out onto an exit curb, you can scratch a rim. Which will make you feel very guilty and sad, take it from us...

When you aren’t worrying about the tyres or stressing about giving the brakes a hangover, on track the Type R is a gratifying, sensational drive. There is something deeply special about its handling we’ve only experienced in a few cars many times its price. You and the car easily become one organism; rarely do you feel to be cajoling it.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

It’s fun in a how-fast-and-how-good-is-this-thing kind of way – rather than surprise-here’s-some-oversteer. But if you want oversteer, it will happily do that as well if you know how to ask.

The Type R did a 1:26.4 at Sandown in the hands of this amateur, a 1:24.9 possible by combining best sectors according to our VBOX timing gear. Undoubtedly it would go faster again with more bravery or a race driver. 

No brief flings on MOTOR long-term reviews

2018 Honda Civic Type R

2018 Honda Civic Type R Pros & Cons

Three things we're falling for: 
1 - Revelatory handling
2 - Lightweight feel
3 - Seats, brakes

Three things we're not fond of: 
1 - Nursing the tyres
2 - Hungover brakes
3 - Bit of turbo lag

Update 4: The Road Warrior

Road tripping to Perisher in Honda’s hottest hatch

2018 Honda Civic Type R

The Very Long Drive (VLD) is a bit of an Australian thing. Every so often, an opportunity comes up to drive some four-figure distance, one that would cause the eyeballs to pop from the head of any European. But you take said opportunity, because there is something soothing, cathartic and quietly soul-satisfying about the boredom of a long drive in Australia.

This month, we put our Honda Civic Type R to this very test with a VLD from Melbourne to Jindabyne, NSW, and the Perisher ski slopes. Six hundred kilometres doesn’t sound very far until you consider that a great deal of that is on twisty roads with a relatively low average speed. In theory.

The Hume Highway out of Melbourne was our first opportunity to get to know the long-distance cruising capabilities of our bewinged snow-white hot hatch. And the big, fat ticks come rolling in.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

There’s the ride for a start, which we’ve banged on about multiple times, remarkably compliant and supple for 30-profile tyres and truly more comfortable than many dedicated, new luxury cars. Mercedes-Benz Magic Body Control? Erm, a Civic Type R might actually be more comfortable. No joke.

This is great for the Type R’s ability to get its occupants a great distance and out the other end feeling relatively fresh. Which would be the case, if it wasn’t so noisy.

Okay, so the Type R doesn’t roar like an old 747 at 38,000 feet, but a lot of tyre noise gets into the cabin on a coarse-ish chip freeway. Sometimes, at 110km/h, it’s necessary to raise one’s voice ever so slightly in conversation. As unpopular a thing it is to say, another 25kg of very strategically placed sound deadening could be worth the weight penalty.

Very interestingly, the Type R has the ability to drive itself down the motorway if you so wish. Clever radar cruise control with so-called Lane Keep Assist System controls speed relative to other cars, but also picks up lane markings to steer the Type R without input, surprisingly effectively.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

On a straight dual carriageway with gentle curves, bumps and dappled light, the LKAS system “drove” the Type R for 10 minutes without us touching any control – including the steering wheel – and could have gone for longer. Impressive, yet its utility, other than letting you take lids off water bottles with both hands, is not entirely clear.

Meanwhile in the fuel stakes, the best range we saw after a fill of the 47-litre tank was 461km and our best highway economy was 7.6L/100km. Helpfully, the Type R will take 91-95RON fuel if push comes to shove. Which it did, as we arrived in Corryong, the last real fuel opportunity until Jindabyne a couple of hours later.

What we couldn’t be helped with was chains, which you must carry in your non-AWD vehicle during the ski season. A lady who rented snow chains in Khancoban, NSW, took one look at the 245/30 ZR20 wheels and tyres and wished us luck. As it was nearing the end of the ski season and on the warmer side, and with a favourable weather forecast, we pressed on.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

Between Khancoban and Thredbo lies approximately 75km of fantastically scenic roads, winding through a rocky gorge before plunging up and down through thick forests, opening back up for glimpses of an Aussie alpine landscape tempting you to pull over for a photo, before spitting you out into a winter wonderland nearing Thredbo.

On the dry bits, with surprisingly light traffic, we were reminded yet again of the Type R’s lovely, addictive, easy handling and the way it relishes being driven up a twisty road. It is a hugely fun and satisfying car on a mountain road. And extremely quick, too.

Yet it was here we rued an annoyance, that being you have to stop and apply the handbrake, and dig around the infotainment menu, to switch the rev match on and off. There’s a blank button right next to the manual gearchange – why not make this the rev-match on/off button?

2018 Honda Civic Type R

As the temperature plunged near Thredbo and snow blanketed the landscape, we were glad for the Type R’s feedback and communicative controls as we anxiously drove over what could have been icy patches. We wouldn’t have wanted any other tyre but the Continental SportContact6, either, for these conditions, with their proven wet-weather ability.

Having enjoyed Perisher for a few days we headed back to Melbourne. And perhaps enjoyed the Type R’s turbocharged performance a little bit too much, almost running out of fuel – or so it seemed, with “8km to empty” there was still 4-5 litres in the tank. Still, you wouldn’t want any inaccuracy around the other way.

There was also a scare as we hit a monster pot-hole, the passenger front wheel thudding like a shock was going to pop through the bonnet. In the USA many owners have buckled the 20-inch rims in pot-holes and have had to make warranty claims. Also, there is no spare tyre.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

If I owned the Type R, I’d be curious to know what it would be like on 245/35R19s for the improvement again in ride, but also for styling. And I’d buy five.

Next month the Type R goes back and for this, we are genuinely sad. Time has helped to distil our thoughts on this car. Those being, quite simply, it’s a magic car to drive if you can get over the boy-racer styling and what is a bit of a plain and slightly cheap interior with a fiddly infotainment system. The Type R is also a bit dull to drive at low speeds. As for its VLD ability, the Type R has us tempted for the VFLD.

Would familiarity breed contempt on MOTOR long-term reviews

2018 Honda Civic Type R

2018 Honda Civic Type R Pros & Cons

Three things we're falling for: 
1 - Amazing ride
2 - Sensational seats
3 - Practicality

Three things we're not fond of: 
1 - Freeway tyre noise
2 - Busy styling
3 - The infotainment

Update 5: Conclusion

As we farewell TYPER-5, we wonder if we’d buy one

2018 Honda Civic Type R

Generally at MOTOR, we get a test car for a week and have to help some poor punter – ie, yourself – try to decide whether or not to park one in the driveway for at least a couple of years. This is not easy. But this is also why we run a long-term test.

At the end of a long-term test, you’re looking for a feeling: whether a quiet relief to no longer have to write about a car. Or a solemness at parting ways.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

For me, in the case of the Type R, there was genuine glumness to be giving it back to Honda. (Even if it was with our apologies for the ‘accelerated tyre and brake wear’ – yikes.)

Our six-part tenure with TYPER-5 basically started like this: yes, it drives brilliantly, it just won Performance Car of the Year – but what kind of journey are we embarking on with regards to the styling? The very first time I laid eyes on the UK-built FK8 Type R in the metal was at the Paris Motor Show where it sat in a menacing satin black finish. I thought I could very clearly imagine the exact kind of person who would be attracted to it, and that kind of person was exactly who I wasn’t.

As someone who helps call the artistic shots at MOTOR, I then had to puzzle over countless photos and angles as the Type R made its way into the magazine. And I’m not sure there is another car with a broader spectrum of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ angles as the Type R.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

In the metal, initially my brain tried to blank out how it looked as I walked towards it, as you don’t have to look at the car once you’re in the driver’s seat. This strategy only works for so long during a long-term test.

MOTOR comparison: Civic Type R v Megane RS 280 v i30 N v 308 GTi

Having now looked at the car at length, I have concluded that (a) white is its worst colour (red looks to ‘own’ the shouty styling while black helps to hide it); and (b) its most unflattering angle generally has to do with the rear end, the rear bar protruding outwards as your eye follows it lower, like a plastic chin, and generally it is just one giant eyesore of fake-vented plastic. The aero teeth on the leading edge of the rear window don’t help; nor the hunched rake of the roofline itself. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R

I only bang on about the styling because it’s the thing that would make me most hesitate about buying the car. Yes, I have never shared with MOTOR readers my love for old, ugly cars, however, I also like an attractive car – who doesn’t? Particularly if it’s new.

It’s just as well the Type R drives as good as it does. No, seriously, it’s actually a revelation. Your first surprise is the fantastic, almost big-rear-drive-car-like driving position; then you are simply delighted by how easy the controls are, from gearshift to clutch and brake. The ride is extraordinarily good – it shames supposed high-end luxury cars. And that’s no exaggeration.

Punt the Type R hard and you find a joyfully well-balanced, precise gadget that is seriously quick up a twisty road. The SportContact6 tyres offer enormous grip and those dampers incredible suppleness. The turbocharged four-pot engine is revvy and flexible, and power-down is a real highlight despite the front-drive layout.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

In fact, it’s the front-drive layout that’s to thank, in part, for a beautiful light-weight feeling to the Type R’s handling you just don’t get in heavier all-wheel drive machines. That, and the fact it has a proper independent rear end and clever front suspension.

Aside from needing a bit of a sensible approach at the racetrack – the stock Continentals are not cut-out for hardcore track use; and track-spec pads are probably a smart buy – the Type R is addictive, fun and satisfying around a circuit. And quick.

Can the amazing driving feel make up for the styling? For me, yes. I’d have mine in red. With tinted windows. And perhaps I’d fit smaller 19- or even 18-inch wheels to further hone the styling to my tastes – and open myself up to cheaper tyres and possibly an even nicer ride – as many owners have.

I’d consider an aftermarket exhaust as compared to, say, a popping and banging, rorty Hyundai i30 N, the Type R sounds very polite at low speeds.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

A bigger issue, I find, is the interior. It would be fine if you’re coming from a 2010 Ford Focus ST. If you’d just sold your Mk7 VW Golf GTI – or, heaven help you, Audi S3 – for a Type R, brace yourself for a $22K VTi drabness that makes itself more obvious over time.

As for the infotainment system, if you’re not in the habit of using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you will be. Audiophiles, too, will do well to see the stock 160W speakers as items ripe for replacing. Fortunately the cabin redeems itself somewhat with highlights like the utterly brilliant seats and cool digital instrument cluster.

Are we sad to see the back of the Type R? Very much so. And this time not because of the way it looks.

2018 Honda Civic Type R

2018 Honda Civic Type R Pros & Cons

Three things we fell for
1 - Porsche-like handling
2 - Lovely revvy engine
3 - Sublime controls

Three things we did not fall for:
1 - Econobox interior
2 - Busy styling
3 - Tyre wear

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