Doesn’t matter how you cut it, there’s always a conflict when you try to put four different forces through the one axle on a car.
Front wheel drives are inherently compromised when dealing with braking, steering/cornering, suspension travel and power transmission all at the one time.
It’s always been a bridge too far for even the best front drive.
Until now after the arrival of Honda’s brilliant new Civic Type R, a front drive like no other.
Honda unleashed its engineering department (or what’s left of them) to deliver this superlative five door hatch.
They fitted a tricky helical mechanical differential in the transmission to prevent torque steer phenomenon which, in lesser vehicles, wrenches the front wheels to one side under full acceleration. It can be really alarming to the point of being dangerous.
No such issue here.
The backroom boys decided to go the turbo route and came up with a crackin’ 2.0-litre power plant that belts out 228kW and 400Nm all readily accessible simply by planting the right foot.
The engine has a raft of clever tech too including direct fuel injection and variable cam timing called VTEC to optimise efficiency.
In six speed manual only, the rifle bolt change mechanism will please purists and everyone else shouldn’t be in a Type R.
Even better is the rev matching system that automatically blips the throttle when you downchange. It makes an expert out of mug drivers.
Huge Brembo brakes behind 20″ forged alloys and sports suspension are part of the package along with three mode drive select though there are more `modes’ if you correctly manipulate the stability control button.
I settled for the middle Sport setting for general driving, R+ the rest of the time. Comfort mode is for wimps.
Plenty of safety kit is in the Type R including a swag of driver assist stiff like autonomous emergency braking and the like. It’s controlled by Honda’s camera based `Sensing’ system.
Plenty of luxury kit too like Recaro race seats, premium audio, dual zone climate control and a large infotainment touch screen with satnav.
Though it’s an acquired taste, you get to like the looks of the angular Type R even though it’s a tad over the top.
There’s a reason for all the wings and things - they’re vortex generators to keep the car tracking true at high speed.
On the road is where the Type R really shines in just about every dynamic area.
You just want to drive it and drive it.
Only two reservations - the non existent exhaust note despite triple outlets and the steering on really fast corners under full acceleration. You need to be `on it’ or else.
On the Plus Side:
- Stonking engine performance eats V8s
- Razor sharp dynamics
- Grab you styling
- Great sports seats, you’ll need them
- High level of driver assist technology
- Three drive modes
- Will seat five peeps
- Large boot
- Can get 8.8L/100km
- Unlimited km warranty
- Built in the UK
- Must have 98 fuel
- No exhaust note
- Arresting looks - literally
- Challenging to get off the line quickly
- Ford Focus RS
- Volkswagen Golf R
- Subaru WRX STi
- Peugeot 308 GTi
NUTS and BOLTS – 2018 Honda Civic Type R
- Engine: 2.0 litre turbo-petrol producing 228kW/400Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual (only)
- Safety: Not tested
- Warranty: Five years
- Origin: United Kingdom
- Price: from $50,990