ROAD TEST: Honda Type R is a real world sensation
PERFORMANCE so often comes with sacrifice. Not in the Honda Civic Type R.
Arriving last year, it's been rightly hailed a hero. Bringing back the essence of Honda and a proud racing heritage, it's the new pin-up for a brand which has faced some major battles over the past decade.
At $56,700 drive-away it's no bargain run-0about. Rather, it's a fire-breathing beast which just happens to have enough room for five and will slice and dice a corner with outstanding precision.
But can it handle the family?
Let's cut to the chase: it's ugly. More sharp edges than a cliff diver's convention.
It's akin to grown men who wear flat-brimmed caps combined with board shorts. There's a time a place for the latter, and that's when you're aged between six and 18. I digress.
Design is always in the eye of the beholder and this most athletic of Civics shouts sporty inside and out.
Despite the looks the exhaust soundtrack is subdued and the Type R could do with some more character from the triple pipes.
Negatives are banished once you get under way. Not as slick as the all-wheel drive competition off the line, the Type R will still reach 100kmh in less than six seconds.
While rivals may be quicker off the line, few will keep up anywhere there's a corner.
Especially punchy in the 80-120km/h range, it can slingshot you out of a bend with raw abandon and there is no doubting its grip. Given the front-wheel drive configuration its performance is outstanding, with the limited-slip diff eliminating virtually any torque steer.
It feels like a go-kart. Direct and responsive, and collectively the suspension, steering and brakes are precise.
Rev matching on down changes ensure there is always ample punch at the ready.
Those anchors have some bite too. During a recent test we found the Brembo shod wheels pulled up in 33m from 100km/h.
But it doesn't have to be all cut and thrust. Adaptive dampers mean you can choose between modes and there are decisive ride personalities.
Opt for the most hardcore of options and it's jarring on average roads, while in comfort it's not much firmer than your basic Civic.
For your money the Type R gets all the cool stuff found in the range-topping Civic, like a seven-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity and a series of displays showing performance stats (including a G-force meter), dual zone aircon and digital driver display.
Plus there is all the expected gear needed in a true hot hatch, like bucket seats which are surprisingly comfortable, thick sports steering wheel and pedals, aluminium gear knob, capless fuelling, 20-inch alloys with low-profile Continental SportContact rubber and big Brembo brakes.
Safety kit is impressive, with the likes of radar cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and the usual suite of airbags.
Servicing is required every 10,000km or annual, and every visit costs $307. Some things like dust and pollen filters ($45), brake fluid ($94) air cleaners ($66) cost extra. The big costs are the fuel filter at 90,000km or 72 months ($499) as well as spark plugs ($222) every 100,000km.
The Type R is available in white, red, blue, grey and black.
With 414 litres, the hatch can easily handle a trip to the supermarket. Just watch the concrete kerbs when pulling into parks.
The rear seats also fold for extra loading functionality.
Key rivals are the Ford Focus RS ($62,000 drive-away), Volkswagen Golf R Grid Edition ($52,700 drive-away) and Subaru WRX STI ($56,555).
All have ample ability, but the Type R is a step above in terms of daily comfort.
Raw, seat of your pants fun is the exciting premise of the Type R.
Being a manual only will please the boy racers, but may not appeal to all those chasing a hot hatch.
It may not be the prettiest or quickest off the line, but you'll need some serious machinery to catch the Type R when the terrain gets twisty.
AT A GLANCE
HONDA CIVIC TYPE R
PRICE $56,700 drive-away.
WARRANTY 5 years/unlimited km.
SERVICING 12 months/10,000km intervals, $1367 over 3 years.
SAFETY 6 airbags, not rated.
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 228kW/400Nm.
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive.
THIRST 8.8L/100km, 95 RON.
SPARE None; inflation kit.