- Superb performance with outstanding road holding
- Noisy, powerful and brutally quick through bends
- Deceptively comfortable
- Infotainment system is quite slow to respond
- Poor visibility through rear screen and over the shoulder
- Aggressive styling may be too much for some
With racing DNA running through its veins, the Honda Civic Type R has just undergone a refresh. There are subtle tweaks that see improved braking feel, plus revisions to the engine for enhanced performance.
New suspension bushes improve the ride quality and there have been upgrades inside to car too.
But one thing has not changed and that is this car’s appeal. After scooping the Nurburgring lap record in 2017, the Type R has also taken FWD lap records at Bathurst, Suzuka, Silverstone and many other racetracks meaning it is still the undisputed king of the circuit.
On The Road
The Honda Civic Type R GT is powered by a 2.0-litre VTEC Turbo petrol engine delivering 320PS of power and 200Nm of torque. Matched to a six-speed manual gearbox, it can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 5.8 seconds (it feels quicker) and onto a top speed of 169mph.
The five-door, front-wheel drive car is everything you could wish for in a hot hatch and some. It has one thing on its mind – speed - and the acceleration through the gearbox is instant with drive modes called Comfort, Sport and +R that alter the driving characteristics of the car. The latter is really best left for track day experiences though.
Obviously, something this fast needs to have a braking system that is just as capable and the latest model boasts new two-piece 350mm floating discs that offer increased braking feel along with initial bite.
When it comes to cornering, the Type R GT is beautifully balanced which means tight bends can be attacked with confidence and that is one of the reasons so many lap records have been claimed by the car.
The steering is beautifully weighted and precise with ample driver feel and feedback and the newly revised teardrop gear shifter looks and feels better in the palm of your hand.
The Type R is also agile in busier town centres with a good turning circle of 12.5 metres to help make parking easier.
The latest Type R GT is fitted with an upgraded suspension system with new bushes that increase rigidity and feel. While this may encourage you to push on a little more enthusiastically, expect to feel the full force of dips and bumps along the way, especially in Sport mode.
But in fairness to Honda, you wouldn’t really expect anything else from a car with the aggressive design of the Type R, especially in its sportiest GT guise.
The vehicle boasts quite a low centre of gravity and is a fairly hefty beast weighing in at 1.4 tonnes, so it does feel exceptionally well planted on the open road.
It’s a car that effortlessly cruises at 70mph, but the over-the-shoulder visibility is impeded by the wide pillars so you will need to check your mirrors regularly before changing lanes.
Special mention to the body-hugging sports seats that keep you firmly in place no matter how much you are defying the forces of nature through bends!
And the cabin refinement matches the car’s styling. It can be as noisy and raucous as you like but then when you fancy calming everything down a notch or two, simply switch across to Comfort and the ride becomes more cushioned and sedate. It’s like post feeding time at the zoo when the lions take their mid-afternoon naps in the sun.
There’s no denying the Civic Type R GT’s road presence. If people don’t hear it coming initially, then it is guaranteed to turn heads as it passes by. Our test car sported Rallye Red paintwork too which perfectly suited its dynamic styling.
The Type R performance hot hatch was launched in 2001 and now, four generations later, we have the GT and Sport Line versions.
The latest car boasts new styling cues that add to its aggressive personality with newly designed air intakes to show off its racing roots.
There are tinted rear windows, a trio of centrally-positioned exhaust pipes, a huge rear spoiler, black grilles, LED front fog lights and headlights, and 20-inch black alloy wheels to complete the fearsome appearance.
Move inside and that black and red theme continues with seats decked out in that colour scheme. There are red seats belts and ‘Type R’ badging features in the seats and behind the gear stick with an authentic serial number plaque. The steering wheel is now trimmed in red and black Alcantara for improved grip and the metal pedals are another hint to the sporty nature of the vehicle.
Soft touch surfaces along with carbon-effect trimmings give the car a truly upmarket feel and the clear digital readouts are a practical choice for this type of car so you can keep a watchful eye on the speedo.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Getting the ideal driving position inside the Honda Civic Type R GT takes just a matter of seconds with ample manual seat and steering wheel adjustment.
The front sports seats are ultra-body-hugging to offer lots of support as the car fires through the country lanes and the red seat belts are the perfect reminder that this car is a little bit special.
All the pedals line up perfectly and the cabin is driver-focused with plenty of on-board tech to explore.
There is an 11-speaker Honda Connect infotainment set-up with a seven-inch touchscreen, a full GARMIN navigation system, internet radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, dual zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors plus lots of USB ports to plug in devices. The physical air con buttons are a welcome relief on a car with so much fire-power as the less distractions, the better.
On the downside, the infotainment system seemed a tad lacklustre and proved quite slow to react at times, especially the outdated sat nav system. And the screen also seemed small by comparison to rival models.
There are control buttons on the multi-function steering wheel to make life a little easier and the addition of quick access keys to some functions is another improvement on the latest model.
Space & Practicality
Up front there is bags of room inside the Civic Type R GT. But the two passengers relegated to the back won’t be quite so content, especially if the front seats are pushed back. The dynamic design of the car with its tapering roofline means head room is fairly limited and when you factor in the quite small rear windows, it all gets a little claustrophobic in the back.
It’s also worth noting that this model is a four not five-seater but there are Isofix fittings to the outer rear seats to secure a child’s seat.
The boot can swallow 420 litres of kit, increasing to 786 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped down so there is ample room for a couple of sets of golf clubs or a child’s buggy.
And there are plenty of practical storage spaces throughout the car, including a glovebox, door pockets, a central cubby box, cup holders in the front and a phone charger tray.
When it comes to driver visibility, it is great forwards and sideways, but the split rear screen is narrow and the wide B pillars rather restrict the over-the-shoulder view.
The Honda Civic Type R line-up starts at £34,415 for the entry level version, but it is worth upgrading to either the GT at £36,415 or the latest Sport Line model at £35,400.
Our Type R GT version cost £36,415 and there were no optional extras fitted to bump up the price.
According to official WLTP figures, the car could deliver a combined 36.7mpg with carbon emission of 176g/km.
This CO2 figure would result in a first year road tax – or Vehicle Excise Duty charge – of £895 dropping to the standard rate of £155 after 12 months.
As the car sneaks in at just under £40k there would be no Government surcharge of £335 for the first five years which is good news.
However, with the sort of performance the Civic Type R delivers, insurance was never going to be cheap. The car sits in group 38.
Quality & Reliability
Honda has a reputation that is the envy of many industry competitors when it comes to developing reliable cars that run and run offering years of problem-free motoring. The Civic Type R should prove just as durable even though it is likely to undergo a more testing lifespan.
The car is well put together and the interior combines a nice mix of high-end materials with wipe-clean surfaces. All the switchgear looks and feels sturdy so should survive the test of time.
The vehicle comes with a three-year, 90,000-mile warranty but this can be extended with a range of schemes and pricing structures.
Safety & Security
Something as outrageously fast as the Civic Type R needs to be packed with safety kit. And it is exactly that with a top Euro NCAP safety mark of five stars.
Driver aids include blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking system with pedestrian detection, high beam assist, intelligent adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keep assist and traffic sign recognition.
There is a full suite of airbags, whiplash-lessening head restraints, tyre pressure monitoring, Isofix child seat fixtures, a driver fatigue monitor and lots more besides.
There is an immobiliser, remote central locking, a security alarm system and ultrasonic sensor for added protection.
Hot-hatch styling with hot-hatch performance all the way. The Honda Civic Type R looks brutally quick and it is. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it will tick all the boxes for true driving enthusiasts.