After five years in the wilderness Honda’s hot-hatch – the Civic Type R has returned and more than picks up where the old model left off.
I got along to the Australian launch of the 2018 Honda Civic Type R in Tasmania and got to have a steer both on the Apple Island’s roads and highways, and also the Baskerville race track.
The Civic Hatch hasn’t just had a spectacular 228kW/400Nm turbocharged engine implanted, it has had care and attention lavished on it.
The body had been tweaked with garnishes, that are operative as well as appealing visually and I love the red highlights here and there.
A bonnet scoop funnels air over the rear of the engine to aid temperature control and aerodynamics. There are channels down through the front fenders as well.
Also aiding cooling are sodium-filled valves. The turbo unit is part of the cooling system itself.
Air is directed from the front bumper through to the brakes, which remain operational under extreme use.
The big rear spoiler is set so as not to obscure rear view, with a black middle section that does not distract a busy driver.
Downforce kicks in at around 100km/h, so it is not just for decoration.
The top of the hatch has small lugs to disrupt flow in a way that aids the function of the spoiler.
While around the back, the triple tail pipes are all functional too, but no Honda would be complete without additional engineering.
The smaller centre pipe functions normally under hard acceleration, but reverses flow while cruising.
This reduces the noise on a long highway stint. Droning exhausts can be annoying after many hours in the saddle.
20” alloys look spectacular, and provide ferocious with Continental Sportcontact6 245/30 ZR20 tyres all round.
On the Inside
The interior sees a great pair of red racing seats up front. They’re firm with bolsters to stop lateral passenger movement in cornering.
We did a 350km road trip, and can report they seats were both comfortable, and supportive.
Race inspired instruments include a G-force monitor, lap timer, boost meter, shift indicator, throttle position indication, plus more.
I was surprised to see an electric parking brake, instead of a proper handle.
Type R hasn’t sacrificed any of the inclusions, it gets all of the driver tech available in other Civic hatches get, such as blind spot warning etc.
The centre console houses the six-speed manual, a numbered Type R plaque, and a variable drive mode control.
Honda’s new “halo” car is spectacular on the road and Honda compares Type R to the AWD Ford Focus RS.
Incredible technology, and a clever helical LSD helps keep the vast power reserves from simply spinning the wheels, especially at take-off.
The Type R was developed by Japanese drivers for the racetrack. Honda set a world record at the famous Nürburgring in Germany with a time of 7 minutes 4.38seconds for a lap.
Normally, the word Nürburgring means a ride that has been utterly ruined, but no. The variable ride control has a comfort mode. The steering and suspension become all soft and, dare I say, luxurious.
Sport mode is the default on start, and gives a nice feel to the steering.
The controls variously change the traction control to allow an expert driver the leeway needed for spirited driving.
A short-throw manual gear selector has enough feel to easily be flicked from gear to gear. A light clutch has progressive, yet gentle, up-take.
The system also rev-matches both up, and down changes. You can turn it off, but why would you ever want to.
The system senses a change as the clutch is depressed, and blips the throttle making the change incredibly easy to facilitate.
In fact, the rev-matching makes the change feel like a pre-select system, and is a pleasure to use.
On the Track
Type R is made for the track, and although is very happy on the open road, the track is home.
Rev limiting prevents a driver from destroying the engine (thankfully) and big 350mm front brakes are effective with no fade detectable.
The Euro 5 2.0 litre turbo has a 8.8L/100km economy on the road, but don’t expect that on the track.
5.7seconds 0-100 is a little slower than Focus RS, but cornering, and ride feel superior.
Switching direction is near-psychic. Subtle directional changes are as easy as quick corners.
Baskerville has a nice long straight with a gentle downhill run and I got to 180km/h before braking to corner left and uphill.
Traction control was left on. Why? Because I don’t have a death wish.
I can hear the howls as I type, but those howls will all be from people who have no driven the Type R.
Whilst I feel a certain pull towards the STI, Type R feels well resolved as a package.
I like the look, especially the rear. I like the boy-racer-ness of the vortex lugs above the hatch. I love the body kit and spoiler. I love the free spinning engine and the playful handling.
But, most of all, I love the ride.
Type R is a true Jekyll and Hyde car where both personalities are the type you’d be happy to take home to mum.
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