All New Honda Civic R-Type 2017 Road Test

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TYPE CAST


It always seem strange when a manufacturer launches a new model whilst the car it replaces is ostensibly still in production. Honda’s new Civic is genuinely impressive, the retention of the previous styling now suitably refreshed, 80% of what you see completely new. The new model Civic also proved numerous onlookers to be wrong, myself included. Over the years the Civic has been transformed from a small hatchback into very clearly defined mid-sized hatch, the overriding factor being as its evolved the Civic has become even more futuristic.


Visually detuned, the huge rear vision impairing spoiler now a thing of the past, the whole of the exterior now far more subtle. Likewise, the cabin’s split level distribution of instruments and controls has been backed off, the feel now of one that places the driver’s needs over style. Add in the new range of engines, the 3-cylinder 1,000cc one of the smoothest and most responsive of its type and the new Civic is likely to attract even more new owners into the Honda fold. So where does the old model fit in especially given the new Type-R is due to be introduced towards the end of August?


In most respects the current Type-R is little more than a race car for the road and the homologation model for the BTCC version. More or less a swan song the Black Edition is the outgoing Type-R’s final configuration and unofficially aimed at the collector. Each carrying an individually numbered plaque, as to how much desirability accompanies each Black is yet to be determined but like all Type-R, the performance remains unquestionable.


Bedecked with one of the most distinctive computerised and wind tunnel derived aerodynamic kits to be seen on any road car, a front splitter evolves into wide wings, intakes and scoops that continue along each side culminating in an almost dining room table sized rear wing, venturies and four large tailpipes. The whole sits on black and red 19” multi-spoke alloys and ultra low profile 235/35 rubber, the vented Brembo discs and red callipers staring out from behind.


Interestingly and in keeping with BTCC regulations, the Type-R still retains its five door format and is still more than able to accommodate five adults and up to 1,427 litres of cargo.

Inside the cabin its a case of two world’s collide. Comfortable enough and more than able to seat three, rear bench still looks like it was sourced from the more basic model. In comparison, fully adjustable racing seats are provided for the driver and front passenger.


Firm with an ability to tightly clench around all but the slimmest occupants, high bolsters, shoulder supports and harness slots are all emphasised by the red and black alcantara trim, these contrasting colours echoing around the front of the cabin. Snug when sat in them, extracting oneself can at times be a little inelegant, each front seat’s tenacity to restrain its occupant impressive if at times frustrating. Retaining the split level dash, the centrally mounted rev counter and auxiliary readouts are till only visible through the thick rimmed sports steering wheel whilst the digital speedo and lap time counter are set atop the dash roll. All other switchgear is as per the more conventional if now previous Civic, Garmin satnav, DAB radio, CD player and Bluetooth all part of the R package. The only extra being the large red performance enhancing +R Mode button on the right of the dash, the control easy to access if not especially visible


Beneath the lightweight bonnet sits Honda’s now familiar 2-litre VTEC 4-cylinder petrol unit albeit in R specification fully turbocharged. Developing 310hp and 400Nm of torque, 0-62mph comes up in what is a pretty average 5.7 seconds although the engine doesn't give up until the 167mph top speed is achieved but only of course where permitted. Likewise, unless the throttle is buried on a constant basis, the R returns a creditable 36mpg, a figure that actually comes as a pleasant surprise. Even when pushed, fuel consumption remains in excess of expectations, this performance Honda far more frugal than would be first suspected.


Whilst the standard Civics have always had a solid, agile feeling the new version even more so the R redefines Civic handling especially with +R selected. The car feels on edge, the overall positivity sharpened, reaction times intense, sensitivity heightened in fact everything you'd expect from a car such as this. There’s even a change light should you feel the urge to take the R to the top of its rev range in each gear so ensuring you get the full Matt Neal BTCC experience. It also highlights just how deft you have to become in manipulating the soft, brushed satin gear-lever knob as you manipulate the ratios in both directions. But do beware, whilst the R in normal mode remains very user friendly, the car’s ability to transform still exists whilst deploying +R multiplies the effect, the car revelling in the fact that not only have you taken it off the leash, you’ve removed the muzzle.


Hit the throttle hard and the R will very quickly demonstrate exactly what its capable of and as to why its regarded in such high esteem by those who virtually worship the Civic Type-R. The active damper effect increases by 30%, the engine, throttle and steering response amplifies, the aggression almost shrieking its presence. In other words, this car isn't for the novice driver who might be sufficiently deluded enough to think they're abilities can handle anything. But for the experienced hot hatch driver, Honda’s Type-R Black Edition will be everything they expect and in all probability a little bit more. Visually, the R is in my opinion an acquired taste, the fact the car is a combination of the standard Civic profile mixed in with almost fighter jet appendages isn't for everyone. Likewise, the performance. Ask and it will be delivered but when nearing the limits its not for the faint hearted or those with only a modicum of talent, the R making no allowances for the inept.


What does surprise is that whilst the Black Edition is still available, even with all the toys fitted inclusive of the pearlescent paint, this Type-R is all yours on the road for a mere £32,300. Pound for pound it probably doesn't get much better in the hot hatch homologation model stakes although the H band VED and high insurance group will preclude certain would be owners. As much a collector’s piece as it is a device to redefine your mental state, if you've never experienced a car like this, take a close look at your regular motoring, get a few real driving lessons and head down to your nearest Honda dealer. Not only does the Black Edition redefine the Honda Civic it could possibly redefine your life.


By; Mark Stone



Model Honda Civic Type-R Black Edition
Price £32,300 as tested
Engine 2-litre VTEC 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission 6-speed manual
Performance 0-62: 5.7 secs / 167mph
C02 170
Economy 36mpg as tested




The Honda Civic Type-R Road Test