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I've wanted a Honda Civic since before I could drive, which was about 5 years ago.
My last car was a 1.4L Corsa C which got me from A to B easily enough but lacked excitement.
I have just finished my apprenticeship that I have been on for the past 3 and a half years so I decided to treat myself.
I have always admired the Type R, but I never thought I would be able to afford to run one, mainly due to the insurance costs. I was over the moon when I found out that the insurance wasn't as much as I thought.
This car was like nothing else on the market when it was first launched. People either loved the look or they hated it. I personally love it. The funky door handles and the triangular exhaust make it look like something from the future (even though the triangular exhausts aren't real!)
It comes with 18inch alloys as standard and 19inch alloys were an optional extra, though I have heard they hurt the ride quality quite a lot. There is a spoiler that goes right across the rear window, which at times, is quite annoying. But at night, when people are behind you with their headlights on, i'm glad its there because it sits at the same height as the headlights of the cars behind.
Things get even better inside. The first thing you notice is the futuristic dash board which was the main selling point for me. The rev counter sits in the middle and it glows red which gives it a sporty feel.
All of the cars controls are all situated on the drivers side of the car, even the air con. Gone are the days of your passenger changing the heating in your car which annoys some people, me included!
The rest of the dash is quite bland, especially the stereo. Unless you have the Sat Nav version, it is ugly. You can change the standard head unit for an aftermarket one but the labour and costs involved are very high.
To remove the head unit, you will need at least 2.5 hours to do because almost the entire dash needs to come off and both parts of the centre console. The fitting kit alone will cost £200 and an aftermarket stereo that will fit will easily cost another £200.
In the front, you get 2 racing style bucket seats which are very comfortable. If you are someone who is carrying a few extra pounds, you might struggle a little bit.
The red and black seats with 'Type R' written is big letters give you the feeling that you are in a sporty car.
The car is very spacious in the front and my passengers always say how much room there is in the back, even though there are only 2 seats, which is slightly odd considering the back seat is the same size as the standard car, which comes with 3 in the back.
The glove box is huge! There is plenty of room for the user manual, sat nav, several CD's and any other little bits you want to put in there. The centre console has a large storage area as well as 2 cup holders. There is also a place for your sun glasses, though I like to put my phone there.
The boot is also very large for a car of this size. The rear seats also fold flat giving you even more room.
There is another storage area in the boot where you would expect the spare wheel to be, though they decided not to fit one. Instead, you get a puncture repair kit. Most people put a space saver wheel in the storage compartment.
Being a 3 door car, you do need to move the front seats forward to let people in the back. On most cars, you move the seat forward, let people in/put and the seat goes back to where you left it. In the Type R, the seat goes bold upright, meaning you have to adjust your seat to where it was before. Whoever thought that was a good idea, clearly has never driven a car after someone has moved your seat.
Going from a 1.4 Corsa to a 2.0 Civic Type R VTEC is quite a jump. I was very surprised by how quick it was. 0-60mph is dealt with in about 6.6 seconds which is quicker than almost all of its rivals. When the VTEC kicks in, you get a real kick in the back and you really get moving. Its not just the straight line speed which is impressive, it eats up the corners with ease and you never feel like the car cannot handle what you are putting it through.
When you are in the VTEC zone, which kicks in at about 5200RPM, you get a little red dot on the dash that lets you know you are in the zone. You also get a rev indicator that lets you know when to change gear.
If your in the mood, this car will really put a smile on your face.
You will see a lot of reviews criticising the Type R's ride quality. To be honest, it isn't great but it isn't unbearable. My old corsa was the SRI version which was very bumpy and the Type R is more or less the same. It doesn't bother me at all. If its something that concerns you, take it for a drive down a country lane.
Like I said earlier, this car will put a big smile on your face. It will also put a big hole in your wallet.
Officially, this car will do about 22MPG around the town and 40+ on motorways, with 32MPG being the combined total. If I drive like my nan, I can get about 26MPG around the town and 35MPG on motorways.
Normally, I get about 25MPG combined but it will be a lot less if you use the VTEC a lot. You will struggle to get 10MPG while in VTEC.
Filling it up costs me about £60 and will get about 260miles out of it. So its quite a thirsty car, which is expected for a car like this. The tax is also quite high, its something like £265 a year.
Insurance was the biggest killer for me, though I have paid a lot more in the past. I'm a 23year old male and it costs me £720 a year fully comp.
I love this car. It never fails to put a smile on my face, except maybe at the petrol pump. It is a very nice place to sit and the dashboard never gets boring. My girlfriend can get a lot of shopping in the back and when the hellish shopping trip is done, I can cheer myself up with that engine and the noise it makes.
Obviously with Honda, you expect fantastic build quality and reliability and the Civic is no different. Expect trouble free motoring.
Its not just the performance that makes it a good car though. When I need something cheaper, I wouldn't hesitate to buy the diesel model.
Previous to buying the type R I had a fiesta ST and was seeking something quicker, sportier but not a car that spent its life in the garage because it costs a fortune to run or it wasn't a practical everyday car.
I finalised my decision down to 3 cars:
---MK5 VW Golf GTI
---MK2 Ford Focus ST
---FN2 Honda Civic Type R GT
There were many reasons I went for the Civic over the others. This was made after weeks of reading reviews, test drives and my previous driving experience. Hopefully i shall cover some of my thought process to help others decide whether the Civic type R suites them...
The looks of the Civic are far more up to date and having studied Transport Design at uni I wanted something very concept car looking with unordinary form that I was pining for at that time. The Focus ST looks like the standard focus but with a cheap body kit glued on so that didn't fit the mould for me. The Golf didn't shine enough to stand out from the lower spec Golfs and still looked too 'boring' to say the least. Performance wise I thought that I had chosen the middle of the range killing the golf in all ways but struggling to match the torque and bhp of the focus. But once you know how to juice that i-vtec system many people have found it quicker on the straights as well as the corners than the ST. The focus struggles a lot from turbo lag in the summer which you won't find in the civic! Though there is a downside to there being no turbo/supercharger for all the people that love to 'mod' unfortunately Honda have really maxed out that engine and without a spare grand or so there isn't much more to be squeezed out unlike the engine in the Focus. That aside the comparison was between the initial factory spec.
Going back to Golf I found that it had a better electrical spec than the focus and held its money much better. But for the inital cost of the Golf compared to the Civic with similar spec i.e. buying the HST, SatNav Type R GT (which I went for) was considerably more I paid 11k for my Civic from Honda in 2010 for a GTI I was lucky to see a similar year with the same spec for under 14k private.
The final thing that did it for me was the Civic can meet its quoted 31mpg fairly easily if you keep out of the i-vtec 'mode' unlike the 30mpg of the Focus which is more like 26mpg if your lucky.
The Civic Type R - you either love it or you hate it! I love it, although it is not without faults.
I love the look of it, even five years after release the styling can still turn heads. Get behind the wheel and it is like taking control of a space craft, the dash lights up when you insert the key and the engine roars awake when you push the red start button. Start driving it and you can tell this car has a sporting heritage and purpose behind it. Once the engine is warm plant your foot and hold on, the car keeps accelerating upwards of 8000 RPM before you need to change gear. Above 5500 RPM the Honda VTEC takes over and you get a further surge of power. Exhilarating and addictive! As discussed later though this has a drastic effect on your fuel economy!!
It has niggles though, the suspension is firm as you would expect but crashing as low speeds, which in this country is not ideal! Also it doesn't seem to be as well put together as previous Honda efforts, the dash creaks, the suspension rattles, the brakes groan in the morning.
To give you an idea of running costs associated with this car I'm currently averaging around 25mpg. On the motorway it can return over 30mpg (at legal speeds) and when driven hard with return just over 20mpg. The current road tax is 210 a year. Servicing will depend on your local dealer but I took out a 4 year servicing pack for 500 GBP. After 15000 miles all consumables (tyres, brakes) are still original, although my tyres are down to around 4mm.
The car only has 4 seats, but this does mean that there is plenty of space for passengers in the rear. Indeed with the rear seats folded (completely) flat you would be hard pressed to find a sports hatchback that has more space. I have been able to fit a dining table measuring 176cm in the back, as well as a assembled computer desk! My niggle with the interior is that the driving position is a little high, and for someone my height can prevent me from seeing the full dash display (blocked by the steering wheel).
I've had no major faults with the car in 18 months, people love the looks of it but not always the firm ride and the fact that in order to get the performance you need to floor it.
I ownded a silver 05 plate EK9 model CTR. She had done 65000 miles and you could tell the clutch was starting to feel abit worn so be awear the engine will take the pounding but the clutch and brakes wont as much.
There wasnt really any negatives about the Type that i really experienced.
I did about 30 MPG which i thought wasnt all that bad considering its a 2.0 16V that produces nearly 200 BHP.
The main thing that you need to keep your eye on is the engine oil level. The V-TEC kicks in at 6200 RPM and carries on all the way to 8500 RPM, if the V-TEC doesnt noticebly kick in then your oil is low and if your using the high revs a lot then it will use oil believe me ha but well worth it.
The interior is a nice place to be with the gear stick being basicly on the dash, which actually helps to go through the close ratio 6 speed gear box rather quickly like a British Touring Car, the Recaro bucket seats hold you in as you through it around the corners as the 17inch tyres scramble for grip and theres plenty of it. The driver will give up before the car does!
The prices are now really affordable as you can buy a 51 plate with around 80000 miles on for as little as £3000 and pay anything up to £7500 for a late 06 premium editon that has red Recaro interior and tinted rear quarter and back windows.
Theres not many colours availble as the choice is, Black, Red, Met silver and Met grey (Premium model) and Championship White if you get a imported model, although the imported model (or jdm model) does actually produce 220 Bhp ;-)
If your a car nut then you have to own a Type R at sometime in your driving life, you wont to disappointed in the experience!
Honda Civic Type R
I picked up my Type R as a bit of a bargain. It was a trade in at my last job, and I got her for what the garage paid, a mere £3500 for a 2003 model with 54,000 miles. This was back in August 09 so you can imagine I am pretty pleased with her.
For anyone who has never driven one of these, I say go for a test drive...today. The ride is unlike anything you have ever driven before. It sharp, even from 5th and 6th gears believe it or not, and being low to the ground and the stiff sporty suspension makes it feel even faster. The sound of it is heaven itself.
Way sexier, and a little roomier than the current Type R, this one remains a head turner, even though there is a newer model on sale. Somewhat of a rarity that. You will pay extra to fuel and insure this, but lets face it, we expect that with this quality of car.
Being previously in the trade I can give you a few pointers if shopping for one of these. Look for an unmodified version. Better if you know it's history. One driven by a middle aged male or family are way better investments than those previously owned by boy racer types. Sorry to stereotypical, but it is true. Insist on a full history. If you look after your Type R you can rely on the Honda not to break...ever. Fleece it hard and don't maintain it, and you'll get stung.
Buy the right Type R, and you'll never sell it. I've been made recently unemployed, and my Civic will be the last thing to go, wife, house and children included!
I am a 21 year old student who used to work for Honda as a salesman. I have drove numerous cars for testing and also p/x that customers bring in. The type R is a car that can still put a smile on my face when I alow it to be unleashed on the road. The car is like Jekle and Hyde the lower revs of the engine can be driven like most mondane cars to and from work and when you have you nan in the car, while the car is being driven like this you can expect mpg of around 31. BUT WHY......... If you have the pleasure of buying a type r then you are going to do nothing but drive it to its full potential. It is a high reving engine and the vales really open up come 5,000 rpm to create a smile on your face that takes you back to your boyish dreams of being a racing driver. This is what the car is made for. On the sensible side if offers a huge boot for a hatch back with rear seats that can be converted into a flat loading bay. There is plenty of leg room for four people and you can still fit luggage in the boot. It is a hard ride, there is no doubting this fact but when you buy the car you already know this. I personally dont think its a ride that ruins the car in any way shape or form.
I bought this car about 4 weeks ago, and I was not disappointed! A car with 6 gears, and the standard features that you would expect (such as cd player, aux, airbags etc...). The diesel engine means that less fuel is used which is very good in these hard times. Sometimes it is easy to stall, but having gotten used to the car after a month or so, it gets easier to drive. Having seen pictures of it in magazines, I became madly in love with the look, and now having seen it in the flesh, it looks more beautiful than I could have imagined.
In terms of steering, it is very simple, and not much handling is needed to turn the wheels.
The car also looks quite small from the outside, but it is very roomy on the inside, and there is no struggle fitting 5 people in the car.
Having driven this car for about 4 weeks now, I have had no problems with reliability, although none should be expected so soon.
This car also cost me £17,500; whilst this is very expensive, it is well worth it, and for a brand new car, £17,500 isn't too bad.
Overall, this is a very good, easy to drive car. Completely recommend it.
After a car accident, we were offered one a Honda Civic Type-R as a courtesy vehicle. I must admit, at the time we were very happy with this because previous experience of courtesy vehicles has not been great!! Anyhow, after a few weeks we fast realised that maybe while the car is sporty, and better than other courtesy vehicle options, we certainly would not want it long term - just because in terms of fuel efficiency it is not
I love the features, and the fact it is incredibly nippy - but being 5ft 2, and the way in which i sit into the seat means that i cannot see the digital display properly because the top of the steering wheel covers my view - so i am forever having to sit forward so that i do not speed - again, a constant hazard of driving this car is the ability to speed up in seconds....
Having come from an Audi as well - i felt like i was having a gym workout when sat in the seats - but that could be due to the choice of interior (going from leather to suede) but even so they did take some adjusting to!
other than that, it is a nice car - it looks good - and is very nippy, just does not suit my height!
I have a 54 plate Civic Type R which I have owned since July 2009. Having bought the car second hand I knew there were going to be general wear and tear problems with the car. Some of the are expensive to sort and some are not so expensive.
I have had 2 new tyres which cost £198 for the pair and have replaced the front discs and pads which cost me £90 in total.
The car stands out from other cars and always looks brand new when its been well looked after. The car handles well and accelerates quickly. The placement of the gear lever on the dashboard, although seems akward at first is actually very comfy and a much better place for the lever.
The interior of the car is nothing futuristic however it is a modern interior that feels comfortable for everyday driving. The seats are comfy and look good and is very easy to keep clean.
The ride can be quite bumpy at times but its a low car with low profile tyres so this is expected. As long as you stay out of the potholes then there is nothing to worry about.
The type-r is a fairly quick car. It weighs 1.2tonnes and can accelerate to 60 in just over 6 seconds. Compared to cars with turbo's it might not be as quick but having Vtec makes it a much more fun car to drive. One thing worth noting is the MPG. Average MPG is about 25mpg however this can increase or decrease significantly depending on your driving style.
Due to it being a Honda, replacement parts can be fairly expensive, but the reliabilty of the cars are outstanding.
i have a 07 civic type r which i have owned for a few months and from the first hour i had issues! i drove it home from the garage where i bought it (about a hour away) and went to fill it up with petrol but the cap would not open!! i had to get the breakdown service to shorten the pull wire. Aparently this is a common problem with civics.
Since then i have had brake disks and pads go very early (and not because i brake hard or drive madly!) which cost around £250.
Having said this i do really like the car as it has unique styling and very sporty performance. The car grips to the road well in corners and has the lovely feeling gear box (feels like a short shift) which is set higher up towards the dash board than your average car.
The interior of the car is space age with glowing neon dash board which amazes people when they get in .. cruise control, full glass roof and digital dual climate control are all there with comfy sports seats to hold you around corners.
The ride is quite bumpy due to low profile tyres but what do you expect!! and its hard to see much out the back window especially due to no wiper blade. There is a large boot for its class and plent of room for two people in the rear. The stereo is not great as the radio signal seems weak due to an antenna in the window and my cd's skip a bit over bumps.
Altogether this is a good car and honda means reliable engines! park it next to a golf gti and i know which one people will look at every time.
The review I'm providing for is the Championship White Type R (pictured) which I have owned for 7 months from new.
Amazing futuristic design from the inside to the outside. No other car manufacturer has taken the plunge to make such drastic changes from previous editions - compare the difference of Civic EP3 to Civic FN2 to say Fiesta Mk6 to Fiesta Mk7.
Although, the looks might not be appealing to all.
As I own the white colour, keeping it clean can be an issue. Especially the brake dust on the white alloys. But ignoring all that, the looks you get when driving this car is great!
Very, very grippy. The way this car corners can be summarised in a few words - safe, fun, crazily fast. With the addition of a limited slip differential, you'll have more confidence in tackling the same corner a little faster each time - within speed limits of course!
It's a Honda ivtec engine. In short - bullet proof. This engine craves for more revs as you change each gear. After approximately 5400rpm, the vtec indicator kicks in and the car changes to a monstrous animal.
In general the ride comfort isn't as bad as some people make it to be. Yes, it's hard and firm at times - but what can you expect from a 2l hothatch? In my opinion the bucket seats hold you firm and comfortably, even for long journeys. I've driven from London to Cornwall without any discomfort.
Lots and lots of room. It's a 4 seater, which means plenty of space for 4 adults to sit comfortably in the car. The boot space is large enough to fit a big suitcase and various bags. And if that isn't enough, a "secret compartment" can be located where the spare wheel is supposed to be stored. If you didn't already know, the Type R does not come with a spare wheel, instead it has the puncture repair kit.
WHAT IS IT?
Bright red, that's what it is!
......Sorry, just my little joke there. The Civic Type-R is the sportiest Honda in the range now that production of the S2000 sports car has ceased. Based on the attractive three door Civic, itself a later addition to the already radical looking five door family hatch back, the Type-R has been made over into the archetypal "hot hatch".
For the non car-aficionados amongst you, a "hot hatch" is a sportified version of a usually mundane hatchback, this is a market defined by the iconic VW Golf GTi, which to this day is one of the Civic's greatest rivals.
The beauty of a hot hatch is that it should retain much of the practicality of the car upon which it is based. In some respects the Civic is a fine starting point, primarily interior and boot space, in others, visibility in particular, it is not in its' donor form a very practical car anyway. To my mind at least, the best sporting hatchbacks have always been developed from a good all-rounder, in this respect the Civic starts with rather a handicap.
The previous generation Honda Civic was an altogether different kettle of fish. The very humdrum "breadvan" styling majored on practicality, but when developed into the Type-R became an aspirational enthusiast's car. Press and owners alike sung its praises; you can even find glowing reviews of the previous model on this very site.
WHICH SPECIFIC MODEL?
The Honda Civic Type-R is actually a very simple range; there are just two standard models - Type-R and Type R GT, plus an all white limited edition called the Championship White......
.....as Honda are no longer in the Fomula One championship, one can only assume that the Type-R Championship pays homage to the BTTC, Touring Car Championship where Honda have been successfully campaigning this car.
The subject of this review is the GT, the best equipped version, although either of the other two models are mechanically identical, apart from the limited slip differential fitted to the Championship Type-R.
WILL IT FIT THE GARAGE?
At 4250mm in length the Civic is one of the most compact hatchbacks.
However, at 2046mm wide it feels a tight squeeze driving it into my narrowish garage.
Mercifully the large door mirrors fold in at the touch of a button!
IN WHAT CAPACITY AM I REVIEWING THIS CAR?
I am reviewing this car with my fleet manager's hat on. Thanks to my invitation to the Millbrook Testing Ground from Fleet News Magazine to their Company Car In Action event, I have been able to compare many cars back to back, using two test tracks that simulate driving conditions that you would be hard pressed to encounter during many thousands of miles of ordinary motoring.
Millbrook is a venue, that having attended for years, I am thoroughly familiar with. It allows direct comparison between various models. Being "closed circuits", the facilities there also allow you to drive at speeds which would, on public roads, be highly irresponsible. The importance of testing cars in this way is to find out just how a car behaves in extreme conditions i.e. on the limit, for instance in an emergency braking situation on the road, or perhaps a rapid and not anticipated lane changing manoeuvre.
In addition to that, and since my experiencing the Type-R for myself, my brother-in-law has recently purchased an almost new example of this car.......if you are reading this in colour, the (very!) red one photographed here!
"Costs a bomb" would be my glib throwaway line here - maybe not to buy, but the running costs for a car of this size and ability are pretty eye-popping!
Bearing in mind the "fleet" connection here, as a company run car, this is not going to add up financially. Whilst the list price is class competitive enough, the CO2 level at 215 grams per kilogram puts it into a high (31%) BIK tax band. In money terms, it is going to cost a 20% tax payer £97 per month, whilst at 40% that will cost you £194. These figures may have been class competitive three or four years ago. Now they are not; the low list price being more than compensated for by the high CO2 figure.
Not only that, but with road tax also now levied on the CO2 figure you'll end up paying £210 per year for the tax disc, I pay just £115 on my 150bhp Subaru.
PURCHASE COST 9 / 10
On the face of it, £19,000 is not a lot to pay for a 200bhp sports hatchback. On a £ per performance judgement, if that is your priority, it will come very close to leading the pack.
The GT is no stripped out lightweight sports car either, it comes as standard with much of the equipment in a top of the range five door Civic, although certain, costly, items - such as the satellite navigation system are options. Perversely Honda have stripped the 2009 model of xenon headlights, a strange economy indeed in a car of this performance potential.
Right now, spring 2009, Honda should be offering some juicy discounts on these cars in order to sell off the huge stockpile built up prior to the ending of Civic production in the Swindon plant a couple of months ago. You may well find a dealer offering a new one for the price of a second hand example.
THE OPTIONS GAME: 7 / 10 or "How much do I need to spend to make it habitable?"
This is an unusually tricky one to score this time. In its "stock" form the Civic Type-R GT comes with all the equipment that you will probably expect in a car of this type. However add all the options, as has been done to my brother-in-law's ex-garage demonstrator and the cost of this car tops out at £23,330. To that you can add another £372 if you fancy one that is not so very red - it only comes in silver and two shades of black as an alternative.
Some examples of the visible options fitted: the ultra-low profile 19" wheels are £1225, the "Image pack" (black sporty addenda to the bumpers front and rear) £792, whilst the sat-nav and integrated telephone is a combined £1375 "option pack".
DEPRECIATION 6 / 10 - Always the biggest running cost.
My local Honda dealer is currently offering a 300 mile, three month old one of these cars for £16,500. There do seem to be rather a lot of them on the market of all ages, primarily because they are an expensive car to run - which takes an undue toll on the biggest running cost of all - depreciation.
Feeding this is that the Type-R attracts slightly more affluent "boy-racers" who tend to have little respect for a car and merely want to go fast and create a lot of noise. This tends to result in second hand cars being in a below average condition which will reflect strongly in their second hand price.
On the other hand there are those, like my brother-in-law, who will lavish attention on the car and treat it well. This is an unusual car in that respect - two entirely different owner profiles, leading to two entirely different results in terms of condition, beware, that is not always reflected in the second hand value, more than ever caveat emptor here!
FUEL ECONOMY 6 / 10
My brother-in-law would have you believe that this car will average 38mpg. He will also tell you that 55mph is its most economical cruising speed. Those two facts, in conjunction, I have no reason to doubt. But neither I, nor the majority of Type R drivers, drive like that in the real world. Realistically, the Type-R is going to deliver between 26 and 29mpg, the majority of owners doing well to see 30mpg from it.
Whilst to many, including myself, this looks like a pretty thirsty small car, it is far more economical than some delivering similar performance, but pales beside a Golf GTi or Mini Cooper S, which would have no problem averaging around 35mpg.
A restricting factor, bearing in mind its GT pretences, is an eleven gallon fuel tank, covering little more than 300 miles on a tank-full of fuel these days is nothing to write home about.
SERVICE & MAINTENANCE COSTS 5 / 10: are you going to make the dealer rich?
Honda dealers are generally of a very high standard, but it looks as though you are paying for a quality service. Estimated service costs over three years and 36,000 miles are £1231 that compares to a Mini at £542 or a VW at £980.
I did warn you that the Type-R was an expensive car to run!
Let the "fun" begin! You want to know what this car is like to live with and to drive and be driven in.......
STYLING 9 /10: A very subjective category here.
Stay away from bright red - attracts far too much attention - and some of the blatantly chavvy body kits (self explanatory) and this is a very good looking car. If you wish for discreet performance then a silver one will hardly be noticed, although silver simply does not suit the shape. Best option by far is the unusual metallic bronze / black.
The Type-R looks a trifle "under-nourished" on the standard 18 inch wheels, which are similar in design to the ordinary 17" ones supplied with five door models, the optional 19 inch rims suit the car better.
I know that there are those who will never find the current Civic model attractive - especially from the rear, the Type-R is undoubtedly the best looking of the range though, thanks to the fully colour co-ordinated bumpers and wheel arch extensions, which on lesser Civic models are finished in dark grey, unpainted, plastic.
OVERALL BUILD QUALITY AND FINISH 8 / 10 Does it look as though it was slung together?
Closely inspecting my brother-in-law's 2009 model, I am a little concerned that the standards at Honda's UK Swindon plant were starting to slip somewhat. Previous Type-R's, including the one driven for this review, have been immaculately finished. His however showed uneven fit of both the front bumper and extended rear spoiler.
A further concern, as with any recent Honda is the durability of the paint finish, with less than 4,000 miles on the clock, the red example that you see here had more than its fair share of stone chips. At least being flat red, the touch up applicator matches better than any metallic one.
SAFETY 6 /10 If it comes to the worst, how well are you and your family going to come out of it.
In spite of all the airbags and modern safety kit being standard kit on this car, there are many other cars that I have felt safer driving. The Type-R is one of those cars which you feel has been developed to the limit of its potential, indeed some of the compromises made in order to turn the humble Civic into a sports car have compromised its safety.
The usual up-rating of brakes has taken place; the stopping power is well up to the performance of the car.
In a crash the three door body shell has proven to be immensely strong, you may have seen on one of the TV Police series the Type-R that finished up upside down having leapt off of a road at colossal speed and ended up in someone's attic! My wife and I simply could not believe that the driver had actually survived such an almighty crash.
That driver was obviously going suicidally fast, however at speed on a good handling circuit, such as Millbrook, this car has a very stiff, unforgiving chassis. Combine that with rather sudden and quite vicious reaction to both the accelerator and steering wheel and this I count as a particularly dangerous car in the wrong, usually inexperienced, hands.
ERGONOMICS 5 / 10 Before I can start the engine and drive away I need to feel at home in the "working environment". The relationship between the controls and how I, the driver, am able to instinctively operate those controls is, all important. This for me is make or break, before I drive a car, if it does not instinctively "feel" right in this department then I will never like it or ultimately buy it.
When launched, the spaceship interior of the Honda Civic was truly radical. In the Type-R, the sweeping digital dashboard feels right at home, especially the large digit speedometer frantically flashing in order to keep up with the break-neck pace of acceleration in this car.
Suit it or not, I have driven many Honda Civics over the last three years and am used to the dashboard layout. Sit a "newcomer" in it though and the ergonomics are totally bewildering. At first site buttons and a myriad of digital displays from everything from the heater temperature to a gearchange shift light seem complicated and randomly scattered.
Add to that the length of time and amount of fiddling that it will take you to get comfortable (find the ideal driving position if you can!) behind the wheel and this is one of the least driver friendly cars that I know.
The heavily bolstered sports front seats are very comfortable however.
VISIBILITY: 2 / 10
My brother-in-law's car has the "luxury" of an impressive, full colour, rear parking camera, which is displayed on the large, central, GPS screen. Laugh and call it a gadget if you will, but the first time that you select reverse gear in this car you will see just how essential a device that is. The standard five door Civic has miserable vision to the rear and rear three quarter, the Type-R is significantly worse.
Those huge tombstone front seats rob you of over the shoulder vision - through the passenger window too even, the rear quarter pillars in the three door car are simply huge and then, to cap it all, the view through the rear view mirror is almost non-existent thanks to the huge rear spoiler cutting the rear window in half.
The very poor visibility further hampers the safety aspect of running one of these cars and indeed would be a prime reason for me not recommending it to you.
On this score alone, I would not purchase one myself.
SPACE: 9 / 10:
Even with those space robbing front seats, a strong showing on this score. The Civic is an incredibly roomy car inside, with a large square boot too. The three door version has just as much space in the rear - but for only two, rather than three passengers. There is a catch though, seated in the back you are likely to feel claustrophobic due to those very heavy rear pillars and the small blacked out rear windows.
STYLE 8 / 10:
I actually like the interior style of the Type-R, it suits the image of the car. However I would fully respect your opinion in not liking it!
All is black and red inside, the soft surfaces on the seats, doors and carpets being finished in red, whilst the hard plastic surfaces are black. All the instruments illuminate in red, completing the theme.
MATERIALS, FIT & FINISH 5 / 10: Aspreys or Ratners?
Going towards the Ratners end of the scale here, sorry to say. There is nothing wrong with the interior finish, more the materials used, which, after several years on the market, now look very cheap indeed compared to the competition.
It may be that I have been spoiled with the superb materials used inside my own Subaru, but the Honda is full of brittle shiny plastics which look as though they were re-cycled from the Star Ship Enterprise, circa 1974.
AUDIO & CLIMATE CONTROL SYSTEMS 7 / 10: Strange grouping?
Whilst working very well, unfortunately the controls for the audio, climate and indeed GPS systems are of brittle plastic, they do not feel any better to the touch than they look.
ON THE ROAD........
......Time to start it up and to offer you a driving assessment.
NOISE, VIBRATION & HARSHNESS 6 / 10 Silk purse or sow's ear?
I have to say here that the difference between the latest 2009 model and the 2008 car is remarkable. This is worth bearing in mind if you are considering a second hand, rather than new car.
Had I written this a month ago the score here would have been a lowly 4. The engine in the latest car is so much smoother and quieter that you would hardly believe it was the same one as previously supplied. I do not know how Honda have modified it, but it is all to the good.
However, anyone who drives a car will know that there is so much more to the overall experience than purely a refined engine. In other respects the Civic remains rather rude and crude, especially in the way that it rides. So stiff is the suspension on this car that ordinary road surfaces see it crashing and skipping about where other cars would simply glide along. Harsh is a very good word for it.
PERFORMANCE 10 / 10 Sh*t off a shovel or a constipated tortoise?
The headline figures here are 6.6 seconds from 0-62mph (100kph) and 142mph top speed.
It is difficult to put into words for you just how fast this car feels, on a race circuit, or, come to that, on the A1 in Lincolnshire!
Personally I favour speed without the drama, however thanks to its flash and burn power delivery, the Civic Type-R is very fast indeed and feels it! The 2.0 non-turbocharged engine has the most advanced version of Honda's VTEC system. I am not going to go into great detail here in order to explain how this works, but in driving the car you feel a massive change in personality as 5,400rpm is passed and the car flies up to the red-line which is at a heady 8,000rpm.
On the road, if you stay blow 5,400rpm, you will wonder what all the fuss is about. The engine does not develop very impressive torque, which will leave you changing gear frequently in order to keep up with ordinary traffic speeds. Press the accelerator harder though and once the VTEC comes into play - you'll know it from the dramatic change in engine sound - and you need to keep your wits about you in order not to tail-end the car in front......
......or flip the car into someone's attic!
RIDE & HANDLING 6 / 10
This is what makes the Type-R so very unsophisticated as far as I am concerned. The standard Civic is already bordering on the harsh for a family hatchback, the Type-R takes that one step beyond the acceptable in a standard road car.
Even if you want to take this car track racing due to its rock hard suspension it will be compromised through the corners, as it skips and jumps its way through them rather sweeping through as you would in for example in a Golf GTi or Impreza.
As far as I am concerned, there is a brittle edge to the handling, imposed by the hard ride that means that I am neither comfortable driving, nor enjoying the experience, in a Type R Civic. In a sense the worst of both worlds, made worse by the fact that so many other sporting cars do it so much better.
CONCLUSION - Would I buy one myself and would we want to drive it to Poland in a day?
No, and I am developing a pain in the neck even THINKING about driving over 1000 miles to Poland in it......
.....but I know someone who intends to do just that in his!
FINAL SCORE: 114 / 170
In the hands of a very experienced driver this is a very fast car from point to point on a country road. However, few of us are that experienced, or skilled, nor indeed want to live with the severe compromises that a Honda Civic Type R places upon us on a daily basis.
You may well have different priorities to I, different motoring preferences indeed. There are those that love this car and will feel that I have been unduly harsh on it in my scoring and opinion here. However, this is a Richada review and I have driven many of this cars competitors under identical conditions and know how much better other cars can achieve the same goal.
Putting that score into perspective are the following cars based on identical scoring criteria:
HONDA CIVIC TYPE-R GT - 67.1%
ALFA ROMEO 147 1.9JTD Lusso (5 Dr) - 67.8%
FIAT PUNTO GRANDE SPORTING 130 Mjet - 75.9%
FORD KUGA 2.0 TDCi TITANIUM - 64.7%
HONDA ACCORD i-DECT EX GT (2008 Model) Saloon - 69.4%
HONDA ACCORD i-CTDi Saloon - 80.0%
HONDA CIVIC 1.8i VTEC SE - 78.2%
HONDA CIVIC 1.8i VTEC S i-SHIFT - 68.8%
HONDA CIVIC IMA SE - 73.5%
HONDA JAZZ 1.4 SE CVT-7 (Automatic) - 74.7%
SAAB 9-3 TiD Vector - 68.2%
SAAB 9-3 TiD Linear CONVERTIBLE (2007 Mondel) - 74.1%
SUBARU LEGACY 2.0D RE SALOON - 85.8%
SUBARU OUTBACK 2.0D RE - 85.3%
VAUXHALL ASTRA TWINTOP 1.9 CDTi DESIGN - 78.8%
VAUXHALL VXR8 - 84.1 %
VAUXHALL MONARO VXR - 71.1%
VW PASSAT TDi 140 S ESTATE - 71.7%
VOLVO S60 D5 SE - 70.6%
Richada © March 2009.
***Start update 11 May 2007***
Well I've just exchanged this wonderful vehincle after 4 years of ownership and I thought I'd better update this record.
The car had a few problems in it's first year with uneven tyre wear on the rear tyres, which required the dealers to change the arms on the back wheels for longer ones. This was a well known fault with this model of Type R but took the dealer rather longer than I would have liked to sort it out. Apart from this minor hickup I have had nothing else go wrong... at all. Testimony to Honda's legendary build quality.
The car remained very quick, even compared to more contemporary competition. I often bemoaned the lack of air conditioning and this reduced it's re-sell value quite considerably, as did the appearance of the new shape type R in 2007 (slower than the one I just sold, may I add).
However, I had a baby - well my wife did! I spent 4 weeks trying to pursuade myself as well as her that the Type R was practical with a small child, but it simply wasn't. The lack of back doors was an issue, and the expense of running the vehicle became too much. Some comparisons to the 130bhp TDi Golf Estate that has replaced it:
Value: sold Type R with 65k miles for £6.5k Bought Golf with 63k miles for £8.5k
Insurance: Type R - £950pa Golf - £334pa
Tyres: Type R - £120 per corner Golf - £50 per corner
Tax: Type R - £180pa Golf - £110pa
FUEL!!!!: Type R - 22-25mpg Golf 45-55mpg
However, there is less room in the back seats of the Golf , but more in the boot, of course with it being an estate.
I am missing the speed and qudos of the Type R quite a lot, although I've found hassle from other drivers on the road is much less in the Golf - you're practically invisible.
Would I still recommend this vehicle after four years of driving? Without a doubt, providing you're not transporting a small baby or short of a penny or to to run it and cope with the depreciation.
***Start update 17 May 2003***
I have now owned the Type R for just over a week and covered 832 miles. I can safely say I have never smiled so much! I ran the engine in under 5k revs for 200 miles and took it easy on the brakes whilst they bedded in. After this I kept the revs down mostly and varied my driving style up to 600 miles. I noticed the engine was getting looser and after 600 miles started to open it up.
This car is phenomenal! It behaves fairly decently up to 6000 rpm, where most engines would require a gear change. It certainly sounds as if the Civic needs changing up at this point as well, and it takes some willpower to drive through this if you haven't owned the car long. However, at just over 6k there is a slight pause and then the VTEC kicks in. The extra overhead CAM (I think) comes into play and the car shoots away, screaming like a banshee and the revs move quickly towards the redline at 8k. The car hurtles forward at a truly breakneck pace - lots and lots of fun! Keeping the car in the VTEC zone drinks fuel, but makes for very rapid driving. Luckily the chassis and steering both respond well and the car remains glued to the road. Corners that were previously only possible at 40mph can now be safely taken accelerating at 70mph.
I never race on the roads, but an incident on Thursday, which I will recount, nearly gave me a taste for it. I must stress that at no point did I break any speed limits in the area or endanger anybody in any way:
"Driving home from work last night I was coming up to some traffic lights around roadworks at a junction in the bottom of a valley. Straight-on is up to the town and right is up (very steep hill) towards Asda. I really fancied a kebab (sober - don't ask me why ) and was intending to drive straight on into town. However, a Focus ST170 flew up behind me as I was stopping and tried to block me from pulling out for the lights. He was indicating
right up the two-lane hill towards Asda, so I quickly changed my mind and decided to go that way and make my own bloody healthy dinner.
We both turned and I could see he was itching to get passed (I drive sensibly in 50mph zones). I deliberately held to 40mph and sure enough he screamed up behind me, pulling out at the last minute before nearly clipping my bumper driver's side (why do people do that?). I pushed slightly harder on the accelerator, expecting to gain on him easily (I've read the figures!).
I was gutted when he carried on pulling up the hill and gaining on me. His rear bumper was about level with my front and I started thinking, "So much for quick car!". I glanced down at my rev-counter, which was reading about 5.5k rpm. Thinking I had lost it and would look silly (it was obvious I had accelerated), I dropped from fourth to third.
Sh*t! The revs hit 7k and the VTEC kicked in, hammering me back against the seat. Although I have done this before, it has only been with 3 or 4 other people in the car and the engine felt a bit tight from new. There was a pronounced surge and I gave myself a bit of a fright. However I was grinning as I FLEW past the Focus on the inside (not to be recommended!).
Needless to say he couldn't get anywhere near as I pulled hard up the hill, moving to fourth and keeping the revs up. Didn't stop him flashing his lights and making rude gestures in the rear-view."
I have been filling up to the brim with various different fuels and working out fuel economy when refilling again. A tank costs about £30 (£34 with Optimax) and has taken me: 240 miles, 260 miles and the latest tank still has a quarter left at 220 miles so looks good for 280+. The economy has been 28mpg+ and is getting better with every tank (even with some fairly robust driving!), which on a brand new performance engine seems excellent to me. In addition, it seems as good on regu
lar 95 RON unleaded as it does on Super 97 RON or Optimax (98 RON). This is a great feature of the car and I have not noticed any difference in performance whatsoever from using regular unleaded.
The car seems very well constructed, inside and out. A single niggle that can be sorted by the dealer is a slightly leaking windscreen nozzle on the bonnet. The car suffers from a slight drift to the right on motorways, but apparently Honda are aware of this and can make a simple adjustment to correct. I will take it in for this when it starts bothering me. But, to be honest, the thought of being without this superb vehicle for even a couple of days is dreadful. Sad, I know!
I've sent of the forms for my MAC police driver training course. Will update again after.
I made the mistake of test-driving a Honda Civic Type 'R' in my holiday out of interest. I take delivery of my new, silver (they're the fastest colour) 197bhp baby on Friday... I'll add to this review when I am past the breaking-in 600 miles, but in the meantime I'll tell you what led to my decision:
After a visit to the Birmingham Motor Show last year, my friend Rob bought a Renault Clio Sport 172. Driving this after my 306 Dturbo diesel workhorse was a real wakeup call. The car had great acceleration, handling was confident, if not inspiring and the steering was sharp and communicative. Even the traction control did not ruin the ride, but it was almost essential. Turning it off left the car seriously wanting around corners. For £14.5k this was a lot of car for the money.
Shortly after this another friend decided to upgrade his Mini Cooper to a Cooper 'S' with 163bhp and a supercharged engine. He was raving about this after test driving several times, so I took one for a spin. Whilst not being quite as fast as the Clio, it was better put together and lots of fun. I
discussed purchase with the BMW garage and they offered me a generous £3.5k for my R-plate 306. The catch with the minis is that to preserve the excellent resale values, you must have certain extras such as their 'Chilli Pack', turning the car into a £17k purchase. This is a lot of money for a car that only just fits children in the back seat.
I made my mind up to try the Civic Type 'R' and rang the dealership to enquire about a test drive. I am 28 and have heard of several people who have either been refused test drives altogether (under 25) or have had the dealer accompany them. I was surprised when the salesperson I spoke to, Nick, asked me how old I was and then replied, "You'll be out on your own then."
When I arrived at the garage, they took one look at me (jeans, trainers and I look about 23
) and then checked twice with Nick that he had promised me a solo test! But 10 minutes and a photocopied (clean) driving license later and I was pulling away from the main gates of the dealership.
Before I describe the two hours of pleasure that followed, I?d better say something about the car:
Often described as being a cross between a hatchback and an MPV, the Honda Civic can often be found snoozing along country lanes, driven by OAPs and holding up tractors. The styling is modern, but conservative, with a high rear-end and long sloping bonnet merging into a similar huge windscreen. The rear pillars are very wide, which makes reversing and parking a bit hit-and-miss and the gear stick protrudes from the dashboard, rather than rising from the floor. Boot space is adequate and room in the front and back of the cars is similar to my 306 - small family. Headroom is considerably more than in most hatchback cars, due to the high roofline and controls are typically Japanese - sturdy but not luxurious.
Honda have built an awesome reputation for engines and the new civic range, whist only ha
ving about 2 years track record so far, looks set to continue that enviable standard. I am told Honda have made the VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) for 11 years and never had a single engine fail. The civic range starts with the 1.4 (which I was lent while they valued my car - struggled up hills) and goes up through the new 2.0 'Sport' to the range-topping Type 'R'. The CTR, as the Civic Type 'R' owners forums call them has a 16 valve DOHC i-VTEC engine, which means intelligent VTEC. This is an improved version of the 1.8 and 2.2 VTEC engines that graced the Integra and Accord Type 'R' badges respectively. It is 1998cc and develops a maximum power of 200ps or 197bhp and 7400rpm. The maximum torque at 196Nm is not huge, but the high revving engine is smooth and incredibly responsive. The car i
s front-wheel drive with a close ratio 6 speed gearbox. Front discs are ventilated and rear discs solid. The only driver aids are ABS and 4-wheel Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). There is none of the traction control or limited slip differential that appears in other hot hatches, including the Focus RS. Wheels are 17?, 7 spoke alloys as standard, with rubber band Bridgestone Potenza tyres fitted from new.
Honda?s performance figures suggest a 0-60mph/max speed of 6.4s/147mph. To compare, the Clio has 7.2s/136mph, the Clio Cup (stripped out version) 6.7s/138mph, the Cooper 'S' 7.6s/133mph and the Focus RS 6.4s/---. Fuel consumption is very reasonable for a performance car, quoting a combined figure of 32mpg and extra-urban figure of 40mpg (you don't want to know the urban figure!). The suspension follows in the Type 'R' racing tradition and has been reinforced and stiffened to such an extent that the ride is very firm indeed. The steering is power assisted and if anything is the weakest part of the car, in my opinion. Sometimes communication to the driver is a bit masked
, but not hard to get used to.
The car is only available in three colours - Milano Red, Silver and Nighthawk Black. It costs £15995 for red and £16225 for silver or black, which the dealers think holds its retail value slightly better. Every new Type 'R' sold through Honda comes with a year's tax and a police driver instruction day (MAC course) worth £300. I was expecting insurance to be extortionate for this group 17 car, but I have had a quote of £775 fully-comp with replacement car if written of in first year (god forbid) and protected no-claims. I am 28 years old with 5 years no-claims in a middle to high risk area.
Back to the test drive, then:
I pulled away from the gates of the dealership onto a gap in a busy road in first gear with a fair bit of accelerator, which was also my first mistake. The car jumped for
ward like a startled rabbit and shot away, reaching 30mph before I realised I should have changed to second. Luckily the superb handling of the chassis allowed me to turn sharply right without mishap and I continued more carefully ? I would have liked to see Nick the salesperson's face as he watched me jump away!
I progressed at 30mph in third gear for a while and assessed the cabin. The interior is fairly minimalist. An average single CD player graces the dashboard above the gearstick and the racing leather steering wheel obscures the rev-counter and speedo unless it is adjusted to the top of its possible positions. It seems the car is designed for a lower eye level than mine? The two front Recaro seats are great and hold you firmly in place as you put the car through its paces. Electric side mirrors and a rear windscreen wiper are considered luxuries in this car, which has been stripped down to the minimum to decrease weight. Air conditioning is an expensive extra. Having said this, I have been in an Integra type 'R' and the Civic improves significantly on the soundproofing a
nd feels much more substantial. The rear seats offer room for two adults easily and the lack of middle transition tunnel will be welcome to a middle passenger. However, the lack of middle seatbelt will not!
Cruising around town at 30mph and 40mph showed me that the car could be driven sensibly, but only by selecting at least two gears higher than I would in my diesel lump! Pulling away in second made things a lot less frantic at the lights. The string of Saxo VTS and Astra GTE drivers with all their bolt-ons started to annoy me, though. I am not one for boy-racing, and this car seemed to attract the floppy hair brigade trying to impress their 13 year old girlfriends like flies around jam. Having said this, the car also saw many admiring glances from the pavement and prestige cars, which I think I could get used to!
Things really started hott
ing up when I went up the sliproad to the dual carriageway, however. I decided the engine was warm (I had heard that you should try to use
the VTEC when the engine has warmed up - for effect) and dropped from 5th to 4th and 6000rpm. The effect was incredible! Almost immediately I felt like I had been kicked in the back and the car raced frantically to 80mph in very little time at all. Joining the dual carriageway and slowing to the legal limit :) I realised that I had experienced my first 'VTEC'. I was thoroughly impressed and went on to test this out again, and again, and again in all gears and at many different speeds. Each time the effect was the same. I was sold.
People have asked me lots of times if I am okay with a gear stick high up on the dashboard. The answer is, yes, I prefer it. There is much less distance from wheel to stick; which really helps when the close ratios of the first 5 gears on the six speed box have you changing gear often. In all honesty, I didn't even notice it after 10 minutes, although I suspect I had my hand on the knob (cough, cough) m
ost of the time. Gear changing did not get tiring and sixth was a smooth and powerful joy on the dual carriageway.
Before I reluctantly took the car back to the dealers, I experienced a rather strange incident. A 205 1.9GTi cut me up badly as I joined the carriageway for no apparent reason, giving me gestures indicating that I enjoy the art of self-pleasure to extremes? On locking the car (central remote locking, Thatcham cat1 alarm and no passenger lock) back on the forecourt I noticed the huge sticker on the back bumper:
I'll update this review when the 600 mile breaking-in period is over, and then again after I have completed the MAC course. In the meantime, I wonder how can I pass the time till Friday?
* * * Update Begins * * * I've been driving my new toy for a couple of months now and it's been put through most of the rigours that my old 306 Gti-6 enfured. I've also got to know the car a lot better, become familiar with it's quirks and so I thought it would be worth an update. The first thing I will say is that after a few months of driving, the CTR is still an amazing car to drive. If anything, it's a better drive thanks to the fact that it's more familiar (and run in). As I mentioned in my original review, the revvy engine has two disctinct sides. If you are driving it hard then familiarity is a great thing. After two months you don't need the rev-counter, the sound of the engine tells you everything you need to know with gear shifts becoming second nature. There is also a lot more confidence in the handling. You get a much better understanding of how the car feels, and become far better at judging the point beyond which things would get out of hand. The tyres (205/45 R17s Bridgestone Potenza RE02s) contribute a substantial amount to the handling of the car being, as they are, an extremely soft rubber. The downside of this is mentioned (briefly) in the owners manual, which warns that front tyres will last around 8,000 miles or LESS if the car is driven hard. I've done around 1,500 miles and the tryes are just beginning to look 'scrubbed in'. It will become an issue when they need to be replaced as the Bridgestones retail for around £180 EACH! Another informational gem from the owners manual is the fact that the dreaded space-saver spare wheel cannot be used to replace a front-wheel. Should you be unfortunate enough to get a puncture in a front-tyre, you will first have to swap it with a rear-wheel (from the same side, thanks to the directional tyres) and then replace the rear with the space-saver spare. The reason for this? The front brakes are so big that they won't fit inside the space-s
aver spare! One thing that detracts from the handling is the Electronic Power Steering. As I mentioned in my original review (below), it can feel a bit 'floaty' at times. Worse than this, it can become confused by bumpy road conditions and suffer from negative feedback. A example was noted on a recent drive up the A1. In parts there is pretty severe 'rutting' of the carriageway, caused by the HGVs. When steering across the ruts, the EPS sometimes takes the bump as an instruction coming from the steering wheel and, as a result, the car veers more than you would expect. While this isn't dangerous, it's something that takes a bit of getting used to and you certainly need to know when to expect it. Fuel consumption isn't any worse than my old Gti-6, returning around 20mpg around town and pushing between 35 - 40mpg on a long run, depending on how much of a hurry you are in. Visits to the filling station are slightly more frequent thanks to the smaller (50litre) tank, but it does make it slightly kinder on the wallet, a full tank costing around £40 at current prices. The only down-side to this is that a 'long run' up the motorway almost inevitably involves a top-up at Motorway prices. Inside the car there are few niggles. Build quality is better than I expected and the switchgear is the best I have come across outside of an Audi. The CD player in the 03 model seems better than the one I had in the demo car, whether this is down to an improved speaker layout or just that the demo car had been bashed around a bit I'm not sure. I have also been impressed with the boot-mounted CD changer. I was initially worried that, like the Integra-R before it, it would suffer at the hands of the firm suspension and skip every time you hit a bump. In actual fact, it's proved to be better than the Sony headunit I had in the 306 and has yet to skip, despite the incredibly firm ride. Another thing that you don'
;t appreciate until you have lived with the car for a while is the size of the boot. On paper it looks generous, 300Litres of cargo space, while not massive, is about average for a small family hatchback. In practice, the wheel arches take a lot more floor-space than you realise and make the effective area of the boot smaller than you expect. A summer push-chair only just fits, a full set of golf-clubs will struggle and two sets of clubs will need one of the back seats flipping down to make room. Fortunately the 60/40 split seats workwell and don't require you to dismantle the whole back seat before you can use the extra space. With the back seats completely folded down the boot space effectively doubles and can take a mountain bike (with the front wheel removed) with ease. If you don't want to stick the mountain bike in the back of the car you can get either a Honda or 3rd-Party roof rack kit. I have an existing Thule kit that I used to use on the 306 but it needs additional adaptors thanks to the 'short-roof' configuration of the Civic. I am still hunting around for the necessary bits to make my existing Thule bars fit and will write another update when (if) I get hold of the kit. Roof load should not exceed 40Kg, so a couple of mountain bikes is perfectly possible. The alarm has been updated for the 03 model. Still Thatcham Category-1 approved, the position of the ultrasonic sensors has been changed, they now face forward from the rear of the passenger cabin. Ever since taking delivery of my car, I have had a problem with the alarm going off of it's when the car is left in the sun. A quick visit to the local Honda dealer and I was told the alarm needed a new circuit board to correct a known problem... 8 weeks later and still nothing. the only workaround is to lock the car without arming the ultrasonics, hardly ideal for such a 'nickable' car. One final (and admittedly very minor) gripe is that the drivers ele
ctric window, while having one-touch roll-down, doesn't have one-touch roll-up. Which means that you have to hold the button all the way up to the top. I know the Type-R badge is for 'racing' but surely leaving out one-touch roll-up for the drivers window can't save that much weight!!! * * * Update ends * * * Let's get this straight from the start. Some people see driving simply as a means of getting from A to B as comfortably as possible, others see driving as a means of getting from A to B with as much kit in the car as possible, yet more folks see driving as a chore to be tolerated and finally there's those to whom driving is a pleasure in itself. The Honda Civic Type-R is not a car for comfort. It is not a car for lugging huge loads (although it is actually rather spacious) and it's not someting you would want to drive with a heavy heart. Oh no, the Civic Type-R is an out-and-out drivers car, designed to tweak every last ounce of enjoyment from even the most mundane of runs down to the corner shop. The R is for Racing and the Civic Type-R is the latest in the distinguished Type-R line, following in the wake of the now legendary Integra Type-R and the Accord Type-R. But is it any good? The first thing that strikes you about the car is the stubby, agressive stance. From the side, poised on 7-spoke 17" alloy wheels with very low-profile tyres, it looks almost like a sprinter on the blocks. The bulish image is helped along by a generous sprinkling of styling cues around the bodywork. Aerodynamic skirts around the side of the car tie in with the wind-swept front spioler and the pointed 'wing' at the back of the car. The twin-pipe exhaust hints at a slightly sportier performance than your standard Civic. But it is from the front of the car that you get the full picture. With a steeply raked bonnet and a purposeful looking mesh radiator grille, the Type-R logo looks right at home, slightl
y offset from the red Honda badge. It may only be available in three colours (red, pearl-black or metallic silver) but they all complement the lines of the car perfectly. if I had to choose a favourite it would probably be the silver. A great deal of attention has been paid to detail. Everything on the outside of the car is colour-coded. Wing Mirrors, door handles, bumpers, the works. And little touches like the stubby aerial at the back of the roof, the absence of a key-hole on the passenger-side door all add up to provide a car with bags of image. The bodywork itself is well put together. Seams are un-obtrusive, panels feel sturdy and the doors shut with a reassuring THUD. The styling is carried inside, as you would expect. The cabin is dominated by the silver cerntral console which houses the stereo, air-con dials and all the usual gubbins. What is slightly less than usual is the titanium gear-knob that issues forth from a rubber boot in the middle of the centre console. With the gates clearly marked in red on the knob, the shift action is amazingly smooth and very short-throw. The fact that there is hardly any distance between the steering wheel and the gear lever means that gear-changes are a very slick affair indeed. Moving on to the steering wheel, it's reach but not rake adjustable and a reasonably small size too. One niggle is that at any position other than the top of it's reach adjustment, the steering wheel obscures the top half of the speedo. The instrument cluster itself is presented in a neat group of 3 ivory-coloured dials. All the usuals are there, Handbrake warning, battery, oil etc. The tachomoeter shows a red-line at a shade under 8,000 rpm, and the speedo is marked out all the way to 160mph. Just a few more clues, should you need them, that this is no ordinary Civic. Moving back from the dashboard we reach the seats. Wonderfully sculpted and trimmed in alcantra it's almost as if they envelope you. The unadjustable
head-support is firm and probably suited to taller people, although my (5ft nothing) girlfriend didn't find them uncomfortable. Entry to the back seats requires tipping the front seats forward (as it's a 3-dorr hatchback). Unfortunately the drivers seat doesn't move (other than for posture adjustment) so anyone sitting in the back will need to get in through the passenger door. That said, once sat in the back of the car the cloth seats are equally comfortable with a generous helping of leg-room, although the absence of a centre seat-belt is a shame. The available space is helped by the complete lack of a transmission tunnel 'hump' running down the middle of the car. Further back still and we find ourselves in the boot, which reveals that the rear seats are standard 60/40 split-fold. Of apparently generous proportions, I've not done too much investigation yet, although the 'blurb' reckons that the boot is around 300litres, icreasing to 600 with the rear seats folded down. Access to the space-saver spare wheel is through the boot, so while it will require you to unload the car to change the wheel, it does mean that the wheel is not easily 'nickable'. Overall, build quality appears excellent. The plastics used are firm, cloth is comfortable, stitching is good and the overall finish is tidy. It certainly isn't an Audi when it comes to the interior, there's no real luxury. Everything serves a purpose and there's very little extras but what they have given you is well built. So that's what it looks like, but this is a drivers car... So how does it drive!?!?! Turning the engine over the dash springs to life. The rev-counter hovers around 1,000 and the safety checks gradually turn off the few remaining warning lights. Heading off down my bumpy side-road, the first thing I noticed was how VERY firm the ride is. A combination of very low-profile tyres and a highly tuned suspension mean
s that you get to feel every single contour of the road. This is fed back through the Electronic Power Steering reasonably well although the chassis probably provides more information than the EPS transmits. Changing up through the gears is even easier than I had imagined. When moving, the gear change is ultra-smooth and before you know it you have passed 30mph, a mere blip on the speedo, not even worthy of a number. Here is a minor gripe. The performance of the car is such that marking the speedo in increments of 20 is not the most license friendly way of doing things. That said, it made sure I kept an eye on my speed. Slowing down for the first set of traffic lights and the brakes feel immensely powerful. The pedal is incredibly firm and I begin to wonder if there is any power-assist or ABS fitted! Stopping way short of where I intended proved just how good the brakes are and indicated that a while was needed to get used to them. On an empty stretch of wet road I tried to get the ABS to kick in, jst to prove to myself that it was fitted (and working!). Not once did it flutter the pedal, such is the level of grip that this car has. Although I would guess that the Electronic Brake Distribution helped in some respects. Pottering around in rush-hour traffic was tolerable. The clutch felt a little heavy but the Electronic Power Steering made light work of nipping in and out of gaps. The compact size of the car was also pretty well suited, with wing-mirrors not sticking out too far. The rear of the car is not far short of vertical either, so there's no real worries when reversing. In fact my only gripe in this respect is that the bonnet drops away so steeply that you can't see it from the drivers seat, which does mean that pulling up to a wall/car/tree/whatever in front of the car will take a bit of getting used to. Out, then, on to the open roads. The engine has received little mention so far and that's because, around t
own, it's nothing special. The only thing you notice in traffic is the sensitivity of the throttle, but it is hardly a problem. Once out of traffic though things change all together. Push the engine beyond 6,000 revs and it takes on a whole new personality. This is where the Intelligent VTEC kicks in and starts to tinker with the workings. Much like the unfortunate Dr. David Banner, when pushed, this engine metamorphoses from a mild-mannered research scientist to a hulking green brute of a beast. As the revs continue to rise, so does the output of the engine. Smoothly increasing until, at 7,400 rpm, it's putting out a whopping 197 break horses, the engine is truly screaming, sounding not too unlike a formula one car. This is where the short-shift, close-ratio gearbox comes in to play. The ratios are close enough that you never drop out of the power band and can accelerate swiftly up through the gears at an almost frightening rate and on to a claimed top speed of 146mph (althogh I didn't even attempt to prove this). All the while, the EPS is adapting to provide a very confident feel to the steering and with the confidence provided by the excellent brakes, the driver always feels totally in control. Even in the wet, power is applied smoothly and in a controlled fashion with only the heaviest right foot resulting in wheel-spin. It's not just in a straight line that the car excels. Where it really comes to life is on twisty roads where the revvy engine and close gearing mean that there are few cars on the road that can touch it. The geometry of the car is excellent, a wheel at every corner. The wide wheels and low tyres, combined with the excellent chassis and the EPS give you a car that will goe wherever you point it. Understeer is very hard to find and the back-end behaves itself way beyond expectations, only some seriously unruly driving will force the Civic Type-R to loose it's composure through a corner. I have heard clai
ms that the suspension is so firm that, on a bumpy road you could be bounced off-line... it's not something that I have encountered though. Cornering feels like the car is on rails, the only difference being that a train could never take a corner so tight, so quickly. All in all, the car is amazing. So amazing that, after a 2-day test-drive, I placed an order. It makes my Peugeot 306 GTi-6 look like a family saloon, both in terms of engine performance and handling. the bodywork is much better as well. Five stars it is then, althogh not without some reservations. If I had to find fault then I would complain about the level of road noise coming into the cabin. The huge wheels provide an emormous amount of grip but they aren't half noisy. The EPS is another slight niggle, it can sometimes feel a little too 'floaty' although never dangerously so. Finally, Air-Conditioning is a ludicrous £1,250 option. The chaps at the Honda dealership told me that it's partly because the air-con has a significant impact on the performance of the car. If that's the case then I would recommend everyone has air-con fitted... the demo car I had was air-con equipped and still went like the proverbial off a shovel! Thanks for making it this far... I'll update this op after I've been driving one for a few months, just to let you know how easy a car it is to live with.