Car Reviews Motoring

New Honda Civic Type R

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

The Honda Civic Type R takes an otherwise normal family car and adds copious amounts of zing and a touch of oomph into the mix, says Tim Barnes-Clay.

Except for one-offs like the famous NSX, the Civic Type R has been Honda’s flagship in terms of bold declarations of its racing prowess.

Not only that, though, it’s a machine that’s as practical as it is exciting.

Buying or leasing a Type R is a lifestyle choice as much as it is a car – aimed at those who crave the thrill of a high-performance machine but still need an around-town runabout that can handle the rigours of daily life from commutes to shopping trips to school runs.

It is a car that doesn’t just turn heads; it makes a statement along with it.

As the crème de la crème of the Civic range, it boasts many features that make it a standout performer and a hot hatch that’s been given a generous sprinkle of Honda’s magic dust.

The exterior is adorned with a sporty body kit, 19-inch matte black alloy wheels, and a rear spoiler that screams speed. The LED headlights and fog lights are the cherry on top, illuminating the road ahead with a crisp, clear light.

Front and rear parking sensors, alloy gear lever and sports pedals, a triple-exhaust, rear-view camera, SatNav with live traffic info, DAB radio, completely red suede front sport seats and a wireless charger offer many sprinklings of sugar, too.

Its aggressive lines and aerodynamic design give it a predatory look, like a cheetah ready to pounce.

The Championship White paint job of the test car is a classic choice, but if you’re feeling bold, the Rallye Red also does the job, along with three Pearl colours: Sonic Grey, Crystal Black and Racing Blue, which makes it pop.

Indeed, the Type R transforms from a family motor to a real head-turner.

The bonnet houses a turbocharged 2.0-litre VTEC engine that churns out a beastly 329PS mated to a slick six-speed manual gearbox, a nod to the purists who crave the tactile thrill of shifting gears themselves.

Slide behind the wheel, and you’ll find that the Type R is as much a performer as it is a stunner.

The handling is razor-sharp, the ride comfort is surprisingly plush for a hot hatch, and the engine performance is nothing short of exhilarating.

It goes from 0-62mph in just 5.4 seconds, topping out at a salivation-worthy 171mph.

The gearbox is a joy to use, too, with a short throw and precise action that makes every cog change a delight.

One interesting tidbit is the Type R’s +R mode, which sharpens the throttle response, stiffens the suspension and tweaks the steering for an even more engaging driving experience.

It’s like having a racing car at the push of a button.

Despite its sporty nature, the Type R is surprisingly comfortable. The suspension does a worthy job of soaking up bumps, meaning it’s great to live with every day, while the engine is also hushed at cruising speeds, adding to the car’s overall refinement.

Inside, the Type R is a delightfully modern-day blend of sporty flair and everyday practicality.

The black and red colour scheme is a nod to Honda’s racing heritage, while the high-quality materials give the cabin a premium feel.

The Type R’s cockpit is driver-focused and designed to keep you in control, with the bright red sporty bucket seats offering excellent support to keep you firmly in place, even when you’re pushing the motor to its limits.

Its dual colour scheme extends to the leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear gaiter, adding a touch of sportiness to the cabin.

The infotainment system is a nine-inch touchscreen that’s a breeze to use, with clear graphics and responsive touch controls. And it comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard – plus there’s a useful 10.2-inch digital instrument display.

The eight-speaker audio system delivers crisp, clear sound, making every journey a joy, even if that means you’re having your music pulsated through you rather than delivered civilly to your ears.

Practicality is a strong suit of the Type R, too, offering seating for five, with ample headroom and legroom for all passengers.

However, the convenience extends beyond its spacious cabin, as it comes with a host of storage solutions, including a large glovebox, door bins, and cup holders.

The boot space is generous, too, offering 410 litres with the rear seats up and an accommodating 1,212 litres with them folded down.

The boot is easy to load, thanks to a wide opening and low-load lip.

Despite its performance credentials, another feather in the Type R’s cap is that, for a hot hatch, it’s not as thirsty as you might think. It returns 34.4mpg and emits 186g/km of CO2, which is okay for a vehicle with this much grunt.

A standard Civic was crash-tested by Euro NCAP last year and earned a five-star rating, scoring 89% for adults, 87% for children and 83% for safety assists.

It comes with Honda Sensing as standard, which includes a suite of driver-assistive technologies designed to keep all occupants safe, including collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, as well as lane-keeping assist.

Overall, the Civic Type R is a masterclass in balancing performance and practicality, delivered in a stylish package that’s as at home on a racetrack as on a school run.

Is it worth purchasing or leasing? Yes, without a doubt.

It delivers on all fronts, making it a compelling choice for anyone seeking a hot hatch that doesn’t compromise on convenience or (at least in context) economy.

So, if you’re in the market for a car that can do it all, the Type R should be near the top of your list – as long as you have a wad of banknotes stuffed down the back of the settee.

Fast Facts – Honda Civic Type R as tested:

  • Max speed:            171mph
  • 0-62 mph:               5.4secs
  • Fuel economy:       34.4mpg (WLTP)
  • Engine layout:       2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder VTEC petrol
  • Max. power (PS):   329
  • CO2:                       186g/km
  • Price:                     £49,995

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