It’s arrived: Honda’s new Civic Type R
For many years VW, BMW and even Mercedes fans have had to hear about the new Honda Civic Type R that’s on its way and how this car is destined to annihilate anything that challenges it. We all awaited this car and the hype behind it, the first ever turbocharged Civic Type R. Car magazines from around the world published concepts of it, later Nurburgring times were announced with video evidence, and some journalists even drove the car. Yet we kept waiting and waiting for this car to be released on our South African soil. Eventually after many years of threats, the car arrived and we finally had the chance to drive it.
Now here’s the thing about hyping a car too much, for those doing all the talking, they put themselves in a position to look very stupid if the car fails to deliver. Even we were sceptical about all the figures, “228 kW’s and 400 Nm’s on the front wheels? This was surely deemed to be a torque steer machine” we thought.
Well crunch time arrived and just looking at it in the pits sparked a fire of excitement in us. The sharp lines on the outside and the blood red bucket seats inside added to the suspense. So what’s it like behind the wheel? After a few laps around Killarney raceway, all we could think about was the smug look that all the Honda lovers would have, after we all had to admit that they were correct.
You see there is a simple factor that determines the reception of a hot hatch. Speed is important obviously, handling too, but one factor is the deal breaker, fun factor. This is where the Type R outshines the competition because there is fun everywhere in this car. From the bold design, to the short-throw gearbox, to the ludicrous induction sounds it makes. The character of this car is like that of an ADHD child, it wants to play all the time. The difference is that an ADHD child will set the house on fire but the Honda will set your emotions on fire.
Not only is the new Civic Type R fun, it is very capable on the track. The way that differential works and how the car uses its power and how it grips through corner after corner is something that makes it really stand out. Yes the competition may have faster cars but there is something so special about this car that getting beaten on a straight line is not on your mind when you’re behind the wheel.
The combination of turbo charging and V-Tec technology is remarkable, because the high revving nature of the car is still there. Only this time it’s accompanied by torque, torque and more torque. The “R” button further adds to the hooliganism in the car by sharpening the throttle response and firmness of the suspension.
The Type R is not flawless though, the ride is still quite hard on the road and it’s not exactly discreet. So if you’re in the type of industry that doesn’t welcome large spoilers and protruding diffusers, you may be in trouble if your order is already in. That being said, if you didn’t buy a Type R for whatever reason you had, we don’t think Honda would care really. They didn’t mean for this car to be the ultimate all rounder, they developed it to be fast and to excite and to show-off what Honda can do. Based on the finished product we can say they did their job.
The biggest pill to swallow is the price of R586 400. Then again when you were a little boy, you didn’t worry too much about how much that toy you really wanted cost, did you? You were willing to spend all your savings on it. The same applies for those in the market for cars like these. The reason for purchasing one will not be about price, it will be about want. Hence why despite the hair raising price of a Mercedes-Benz A45, you still see a good amount of them on the road.
The competitors in this segment play a different game to the one that Honda is playing though. For instance, The VW Golf R is a massively impressive car and it is practical as well. It is probably the best all-round hot hatch money can buy. It is an everyday car that can be a hot hatch when you want it to. Whereas the Honda Civic Type R is a hot hatch all the time that can be used as an everyday car, if you don’t mind all the stares. As a result, the Type R’s direct competitor in terms of its purpose is probably the Renault Megane RS. These two cars share the same interests, that of making grown men feel like little boys again, and boy oh boy the new Civic Type R made us want to play. After many years of waiting, we’re happy to say we weren’t disappointed.