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Can the latest Honda Civic Type R back up its outlandish looks with exhilarating performance and handling?


Smooth mountain pass? Tick. +R mode selected? Tick. Foot flat? Tick! The Type R responds instantly by sending 228 kW through a limited-slip differential to the front wheels, where special Continental Sport Contact 6 rubber tears at the asphalt. There is little sign of torque steer or wheel spin as a set of corners is reeled in at a serious rate of knots.

However, the fun truly starts with the first steering input, which highlights Honda’s newest hot hatch’s startling response and its leech-like grip on the front axle. This is undoubtedly helped by the negative camber on the front wheels (which causes noticeable wear on the inner edge of the tyres). It’s obvious why the Type R holds the Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record for FWD vehicles.

True hot hatches, in contrast to lukewarm pretenders, are bought first and foremost for the driving experience. Styling and practicality play a role, of
course, as they’re often used for family transport duties … but their drivers live for that occasional moment when an empty stretch of blacktop presents itself and it is time to blow away the cobwebs. The Type R is brilliant at doing just that.

 

Much has been written about the history of the legendary red-badged Type R range, but in latter years the focus has been on a move from high-revving, naturally aspirated engines to the first, short-lived, turbocharged 2,0-litre FK2 Civic model. Some loved its abundance of torque and hard-edged character; others lamented the loss of a stratospheric redline and more useable day-to-day manners.

 

This new FK8 model aims to bridge the gap. It employs the engine from the FK2 (there have been some minor changes to improve response, including a single-mass flywheel), but rides on a newly developed Global Compact platform, with the main difference being the addition of independent rear suspension. The result is a vehicle that is longer (165 mm) and lower (36 mm), and appears altogether more purposeful (or tacky, depending where on the spectrum your aesthetic tastes lie). At least its good to know that each scoop, vortex generator, vent or wing is designed with a singular aim: providing maximum downforce and little drag penalty; a coefficient of just 0,26 on a hatchback shape is praiseworthy.

 

Function and form merge again at the rear where the triple exhaust outlets recall anti-aircraft weaponry, but are said to reduce back-pressure, amplify the exhaust note above 4 000 r/min (in reality, to middling effect) and help eliminate the cabin boom that plagued the outgoing model at cruising speeds (which it
does successfully).

 

Climbing inside, the driver is greeted by a clearly race-inspired cabin including crimson-hued, form-hugging bucket seats that provide excellent lateral support, that work-of-art metal-topped shifter and a dash with more red inserts and carbon-fibre touches than some may deem necessary. Gone is the tiered dash design, with a digital instrument cluster now taking centre stage (some testers complained about the readability of especially the fuel-level and engine-temperature gauges). USB and 12 V power sockets are oddly sited below the centre console, but a large cavity between the seats has space for phones and wallets. That’s there because the Civic Type R has an electronic parking brake, an odd feature on a honed performance vehicle with a manual gearbox.

 

There were no complaints about the near-perfect driving position, aided by a low seat setting (the fuel tank was moved aft to achieve this) and fully adjustable tiller. Rear legroom is now class-leading at 720 mm thanks to a jump in wheelbase length of 106 mm. There’s good news in the boot, too, which measures an impressive 312 litres, which we thoroughly tested on a family weekend away (and the vehicle passed with flying colours). Coupled with compliant suspension in comfort mode, the Type R just about makes a composed daily driver. Only excessive road noise dents refinement.

 

Honda engineers added that softer comfort setting to the already-available settings of sport and +R to broaden the vehicle’s operating remit. We found the former mode, which includes a brilliant rev-matching feature during downshifts, is the best option for fast-road driving. The overly firm, alert +R  mode should be reserved for billiard-smooth surfaces.

 

On our test strip, it was always going to be tough to match the manufacturer’s 5,8-second claim from 0-100 km/h, as it was a scorching day and heat lowers air density and generally affects engine performance. With traction control switched off and +R mode selected, the ECU allows only 3 500 r/min before the clutch is sidestepped. There is so much grip that the engine bogs slightly before an ideal run to three figures can commence. Our final reading was 6,30 seconds, which left us slightly deflated, as the previous Type R needed merely six seconds. Once back in the office, we analysed the data and realised the new model needs third gear to hit 100 km/h, while its forebear could do it in second thanks to a shorter final-drive ratio.

 

The manufacturer claims an 8,4 L/100 km fuel-consumption figure, confirmed by an excellent 8,2 L/100 km on our fuel route. Mine the depths of its performance, however, and that figure quickly skyrockets, shortening the range on the 47-litre fuel tank to less than 300 km.

 

Completing the overall stellar dynamic showing were the Brembo brakes, recording a best time of 2,60 seconds during our 10-stop test and a brilliant 2,77-second average. We noticed the brakes emit a slight grinding sound, but apparently this is common.
PORT SHEPSTONE, KwaZulu-Natal By far my favourite technical enhancement highlighted at the local launch of the fifth-generation Honda Civic Type R is the news that the car’s fuel tank has been shifted to fit below the rear passenger bench, subsequently allowing the driver’s seat to be mounted 50 mm lower within the cabin compared with the previous model. Certainly, it’s an alteration that also offers improved weight distribution, front to rear, but more importantly for anyone taller than 180 cm, it means we can now actually fit behind the steering wheel without our heads touching the roof-lining. And that's good news, because the newest, fastest version of the legendary Type R to date is definitely a car you want to spend a lot of time in.

Developed alongside the altogether tamer current Civic hatch derivatives with which it shares Honda’s new Global Compact platform, the new Type R is longer and lower than the short-lived FK2 model it replaces, while at the same time it is marginally lighter (16 kg) and 38% stiffer than the previous car. This, together with a stretched wheelbase (up 106 mm) and wider tracks, front and rear, speak to an altogether sharper package.

And if the underpinnings of the new Type R don’t properly convey a newfound sense of sharpness, then surely the go-faster exterior cladding on the fastest (from-the-factory) Civic to date leaves little doubt. Developed with the Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record firmly in mind, there’s certainly no missing the latest red-badged Honda in traffic. From chiselled wheelarches and punctured spoilers and diffusers to the “vortex-generating” horns that adorn the top of the rear window and that purposeful-looking wing, it’s safe to say that new Civic Type R won’t suit everyone’s tastes – but that’s exactly why I like it. Make no mistake, I hope a FK8 Type R never arrives outside my house expecting to collect my daughter, but I do appreciate the fact that Honda still has a department dedicated to creating cars like this that exude such a strong sense of character and anti-establishment brashness.

The same goes for the interior. If you don’t want bright red (though impressively comfortable) full bucket seats, then the Type R simply isn’t for you. Similarly, the red highlights and fake carbon trim scattered throughout the cabin, together with a beautifully crafted aluminium gear knob and matching pedals, won’t please everyone, but they’re nevertheless standard fitment and neatly complement the rest of this race-ready package.

One welcome concession, though, is a third driving mode aimed as offering a somewhat more refined, less jarring, almost comfortable set-up that makes the new car that much more usable in everyday conditions compared with the outgoing model. Here the adaptive dampers offer greater overall compliance, while the (variable) steering weighting, throttle sensitivity and engine mapping align towards delivering an altogether less workmanlike driving experience. Not to be confused for having gone soft, however, it’s up to the driver to select this more forgiving setting once the car is started; the default setup at start-up being the "let’s-get-on-with-it" sport mode.

There’s one more concession that’s been made to models sold outside of Europe and it’s to do with the power output delivered by the (FK2-shared) turbocharged 2,0-litre engine fitted to the new Type R. Where European-based cars enjoy the full benefits of a revised exhaust system that frees up an additional 7 kW compared with the unit fitted to the outgoing Type R, the absence of 98 octane fuel in our market means the car’s full 235 kW potential can not be reached, instead power remains 228 kW as offered by the previous car. It’s not all bad news, however, as the new car still makes the most of its revised throttle mapping, shorter final drive and new single-mass flywheel (and 1 380 kg mass) to feel anything but slow. Honda claims a 0-100 km/h time of 5,8 seconds on the local, detuned version of the new Type R (we recorded a best time of 6,0 seconds in the FK2 Type R).

While the default sport mode firms up the dampers and steering weighting accordingly, it also heightens the sensitivity of the throttle pedal and engages the brilliant workings of a rev-matching downshift system aimed at taking away the “chore” of heal-toe work while attacking a tight set of corners. Dialling in +R mode at the start of my second lap of Dezzi Raceway, it’s immediately obvious that this most hardcore setting was developed specifically with track work in mind. If the sport mode damper setting is just about forgiving enough for everyday use, +R mode firms things to the point where every piece of surface patchwork can be felt through both the steering wheel and the massive seat cushion. That said, on smooth surfaces as offered at Dezzi, this setting harnesses all of the under-the-skin goodness that’s been built into the new Type R.

Here, the new fully independent rear suspension delivers a welcome level of balance and mid-corner poise, while a brilliantly sorted front end (including mechanical limited-slip differential) makes the best use of the revised MacPherson strut arrangement featuring Honda’s “dual-axis” that places the wheel carrier on a dedicated knuckle so as to close the distance between the wheel hub and the turning strut – thus minimising torque steer. In the new Type R, this not only helps with straight line acceleration, but also lets you get the power down that much sooner when exiting a tight corner.

While the still-brilliant previous-generation Civic Type R was offered locally for only two years, its existence delivered the perfect prequel to the more polished, more useable, and ultimately sharper new model. Yes, the styling is divisive and, yes, similar to Subaru Impreza STIs of old, there’s likely to be one buzzing in your rearview mirror even on your morning commute, but in a world that’s increasingly taking itself too seriously cars like the Civic Type R serve to remind us that there’s still a little exuberant, slightly over-the-top fun to be had.

That said, I love the fact that the driver of the altogether more sophisticated Golf R wouldn’t look twice at the new Civic Type R and that an owner of this particular Honda considers the Volkswagen dull by comparison.

Still, there’s very much a place in the motoring world for cars like the Honda Civic Type R. And the newest one not only happens to be the best example yet, but it'd already also be my choice for hot hatch of the year. Your move, Renault...
SAVE R45 000

Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Cloth upholstery: rear
  • Leather upholstery: front suede-cloth
  • Seats quantity: 4
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: Standard
  • Front armrests: Standard
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Traction control: Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Tyre pressure sensor monitor deflation detection system: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Driver knee airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 6
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear
  • Emergency brake hazardlights: emergency-brake flashing brake lights
  • Start stop button: Standard
  • Engine auto Stop Start idle stop ecostop: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Sports suspension: std adaptive
  • Electronically adjustable suspension: adaptive
  • Driving mode switch eg sport comfort: Comfort Sport +R
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Navigation: Standard
  • Cruise control: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • CD player: Standard
  • Aux in auxiliary input: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: front
  • Central locking: keyless
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: Standard
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Rain sensor auto wipers: Standard
  • Auto dim interior mirror: Standard
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Heated exterior mirrors: Standard
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: LED
  • Frontfog lamps lights: Standard
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Park distance control PDC: front + rear + rear camera
  • Camera for park distance control: rear
  • Rear spoiler: Standard
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 560 km
  • Driven wheels: front
  • Driven wheels quantity: 2
  • Gearratios quantity: 6
  • Gearshift: manual
  • Transmission type: manual
  • Electromechanical parking brake: Standard
  • Limited slipdiff: Standard
  • Front tyres: 245/30 R20
  • Reartyres: 245/30 R20
  • Length: 4557 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1877 mm
  • Height: 1434 mm
  • Wheel base: 2699 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 126 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 12.6 m
  • Load volume / capacity: 414-780 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 780 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1356 kg
  • Gross weight (GVM): 1760 kg
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 47l
  • Fuel consumption average: 8.4 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 200g/km
  • Power maximum: 228 kW
  • Power maximum total: 228 kW
  • Power peak revs: 6500 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 168 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 400 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 2500-4500 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 400 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 295.0 Nm/ton
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 5.8s
  • Maximum top speed: 272 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 1996 cc
  • Engine size: 2.0l
  • enginedetailshort: 2.0T
  • Engine + detail: 2.0 turbo
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i4
  • Cam: dohc
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 16
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 5
  • Warranty distance (km): 200000 km
  • Service plan: Standard
  • Service plan time (years): 5
  • Service plan time (distance): 90000 km
  • Roadside assistance time: 3
  • Service interval (distance): 10000 km
  • Brand: Honda
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 25020402
  • MMVariant: CIVIC 2.0T TYPE R
  • Introdate: 2018-02-01
  • DuoportarecordID: HondCivi5h1

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Honda Civic Type R for sale in Somerset West from one of Carmag.co.za's apporoved car dealerships
New Civic Type R availbale from the following auto dealer:
Rola Honda Helderberg New Cars new car dealership located in: Somerset West, Western Cape, South Africa
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