"It’s about time. But the Civic Type R is back. And boy don’t the company want you to know. It’s been, what, the best part of a decade since the last totemic, sporty issue from one of "
Honda’s new Civic Type R
Not simply a Civic with a few performance enhancements, the new Type R is purpose built.
They were right about flying cars.
The Honda Civic has been around since 1972, a time when the world was looking romantically towards the 21st century and muttering to itself – “we’ll all have flying cars by then.” Of course, they were spot on because in 2017 the Honda Civic can now do 169mph. As far as I’m concerned, that is a car that can fly.
Such little time has passed since the last Civic Type R was launched that it can almost be counted in days. Two years between new models is a surprisingly short period of time for any car, but Honda always had this in mind, engineering had already commenced on the new Civic when the last Type R was being launched. Honda says the new Civic Type R is special though, as it has been built to be a Type R from the start rather than modifying a Civic platform that never really had high performance in mind.
High performance is exactly what’s on the menu too, 316bhp is produced from the 2.0-litre turbo VTEC engine – up around 10 horses from the last car – and this is now the fastest ever front-wheel driven car around the Green Hell. Don’t be fooled by the fact it says ‘Civic’ on the back – this is a serious piece of kit.
It’s also a sensible family car though. It has room for five people, five doors, and space in boot for many bags of groceries. It has Bluetooth, climate control, and a reversing camera too, and this means that when you don’t actually want to behave like a pillock you don’t need a second car to peacefully potter around in, especially now as Honda has also improved the rather firm ride characteristic of the outgoing car which was a wee bit hard for most people. What you’ve got now then is a genuinely comfortable five door family hatchback with space and gadgets that can blitz a circuit on the Saturday and do the supermarket run on a Sunday.
It might not be all-wheel drive like some rivals, but its behaviour on circuit is really poised. While the expected understeer can be found at the limit, lift-off oversteer and balancing the car as it changes direction and enters tricky breaking areas is huge fun, the car providing you with all the information you need to keep it on the straight and narrow. It’s a car you can get into right away, drive at 8-9/10ths and feel right at home with, and in that sense it’s reminiscent of a Subaru WRX STi, another superb all-rounder. Honda will tell you the aerodynamic aids on the car work to produce real downforce. Now, that’s a pretty hard thing to test but what I can tell you is just how stable the car feels at 150-160mph on the autobahn. It runs at seriously high speed in a more than comfortable state.
Comfortable, spacious, rapid, well priced – just over £30k – all this left me thinking, is this now the all-rounder to have? Many people can only own one car, and the new Civic Type R can do it all. If you’re not snobby about all-wheel or rear-wheel drive, this is a truly excellent performance car with all the comforts of a sensible family hatch. If you had to live with just one car, it’s hard to argue against it.
Who’d have thought the authentic, everyday flying cars of the future would carry names like ‘Civic’ and ‘Focus’? Come to think of it, that gives me an idea, actually…
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