IT turns lots of heads with its swathe of functional aero aids that give it a Space Invaders look: front brake cooling ducts, a bonnet scoop, wind splitters, vortex generators and more rear wing than a mother magpie in spring swooping mode.
But Honda’s new Civic Type R high performer is also a surprisingly practical hatch with a comfy cabin and cavernous boot above its three-pipe exhaust.
The $50,990 plus on roads car holds a couple of titles, among them Performance Car of the Year and it holds the record for front-wheel drives on the Nurburgring’s Nordschleife, used by many marques to shout their sporting prowess.
But for all its 228kW/400Nm and six-speed short-shift gearbox and 20-inch alloys, it will happily cruise along in nanna-mode in the urban area, making it entirely suitable as a daily driver.
It comes with a numbered plaque on its console, three drive modes, excellent auto-levelling LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, big Brembo brakes – ventilated in front – adaptive dampers and a host of interior appointments.
There’s clear and comprehensive instrumentation, among the dials a G-force meter, stopwatch, F1-style shift light indicator, turbo boost meter and throttle position indicator.
There’s also a 160W audio system, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you can explore the dashboard and accessories while snug in the supportive red front sports seats.There’s no satnav, though.
Of course, the hot Honda comes with a to safety rating and has all the electronic aids of the day, such as adaptive cruise, auto emergency braking, reversing camera and lane-keeping assist.
Interesting too is this Japanese car’s make-up: it’s built in the UK, and its engine comes from Honda’s plant in Ohio.
Driving it feels like is a union of all vehicle departments. There is refinement, comfort and poise at low speeds and more of the same as it eagerly belts along the road ahead.
Pretty soon useless thoughts pop into your head, like wow, what happened? Am I really here already? Where are the cars behind? What colour pants did I wear today?
The gearshift is closely set and has perfect throw and weight to it although I can’t say how hot the beautifully turned alloy shift knob it could get on a sunny day.
The brakes are top class and stop the 1393 kg car almost instantly. Pedal feel is as superb.
The steering is stable under all surface imperfections and is made even more so if selecting Sport or R mode. Things get stiffer and tighter but quiet and ready.
Acceleration to 100km/h comes up in a back-shoving 5.7 seconds and the helical limited slip diff ensures the front wheels behave on take-off and through tight corners.
Running on those big wheels with super low profile 245/30 rubber you’d expect it to be very bangy inside, but thanks to triple insulation it’s not. It it soaks up bumps like a Kanebo chamois does drops of water.
Fuel consumption doesn’t really matter in a car of this calibre, but the Type R shines in this department too. It has an official combined city/country figure of 8.8 litres/100 km and we achieved an impressive 8.0 on a country run.
The one thing we disliked was the electronic ‘hand’ brake.
It’s a modern-day thing that has no place in a car as sporty as the Type R.
Verdict: At its price, the Civic Type R does it differently and better than anything at the moment. It will delight anyone who appreciates a real driver’s car.
- Multi-mode nanna-to-race-winner personality
- Excellent gearbox
- Impressive fuel economy
- Comprehensive list of features
- Build quality
- Electronic parking brake
- No satellite navigation
- No spare wheel