We’ve had our grubby mitts on a brand new Honda Civic Type R for almost two months now, so we felt it was only right we show it off a bit and find out what everyone else makes of it. What better place to take it, then, than to a Sunday morning car meet?
Even parked next to the likes of the look-at-me Ford Focus RS, our lairy Civic stands out like a sore thumb. We’ve already mentioned how much we love the slightly creamy Championship White paint, but with some added grime to prove we haven’t been leaving it in a garage the whole time, the Civic looks absolutely fantastic.
Sure, the thousands of aerodynamic fins won’t appeal to everyone, and the huge black grille in the Civic’s front bumper makes it look like a slack-jawed pensioner who’s misplaced their dentures, but it certainly attracts a lot of attention. It’ll be up to you to decide whether this is a good thing or not, however.
Most bystanders liked the low nose, the ground-hugging splitter and the huge wheels – all of which survived our traipsing across a muddy Surrey field. Sadly, the carbon-fibre-effect side skirts, bulbous back end and three tailpipes were less popular.
At least the latter are there for a reason – they help amplify the engine noise at high revs and muffle annoying droning noises at motorway speeds. You might think this lets you have your cake and eat it, but we can’t really tell whether Honda’s exhaustive (ahem) efforts have made any difference. Sure, it’s much quieter when you’re cruising along than the old car, but floor the throttle and it sounds like you’re listening to a screaming four-cylinder through someone else’s earphones on a crowded train rather than experiencing it for yourself.
Thankfully, the Civic more than makes up for this slightly disappointing soundtrack when you give it the beans on a quiet country road. We fell in love with the super-sharp steering in the old car, but the set-up in this new car feels better still – especially in hardcore R mode – and it helps you avoid potholes like a mosquito expertly dodging a flyswat.
Not that you’ll need to dart around bumps in the new car – the more forgiving suspension lets you enjoy a Sunday drive without worrying about an unforeseen bump wrecking your spine. This makes this latest model much less stressful to drive quickly than the old, rather fidgety, Type R – especially on poorly maintained roads.
The only thing that’ll get you hot and bothered is the infotainment system. We don’t want to sound like a broken record (see our previous long-term report, below), but the fact that it took half an hour just to tune the stereo to Radio 4 gives you a good idea of how frustrating it can be to use.
Honda Civic Type R updated May 2
It’s almost a month now since we welcomed the latest addition to the carwow fleet – a shiny new Honda Civic Type R.
First impressions? Well, the Competition White paint of our car seems to be the colour to have – highlighting the Type R’s red decals nicely, while also lending it a connection to famous Hondas of yesteryear such as the NSX-R and the Integra Type R.
What’s also clear is that the new model is fast with a capital F, but then – having had the old model for six months – we weren’t expecting it to be slow.
What is surprising, however, is how comfortable the new model is – a characteristic that’s sure to appeal if you ever bounced up the motorway in the old car while simultaneously being deafened by the constant engine drone. It was a combination that would have you pulling your hair out quicker than you would when operating the frankly awful infotainment system – a real achievement, believe us.
By comparison, the new model absorbs bumps very well in its most comfortable setting and at a steady cruise it’s quieter than many of its peers. Sure, the infotainment system still has a few ‘minor’ foibles – like a complete lack of intuitiveness – but you can avoid most of these by using your phone’s sat-nav via Apple Carplay or Android Auto.
More importantly, this newfound usability hasn’t come at the expense of out-and-out pace. The Civic’s seemingly unlimited grip means it’ll run rings around cars costing twice as much down a stretch of your favourite B road.
Quite how far it has moved the game on was highlighted when we sampled a past master – the Ford Focus ST – just prior to the Type R’s arrival. Once one of the best hot hatches on sale, the ST now feels like an unruly mess of torque steer – when the steering wheel writhes in your hands when you’re accelerating hard – and surprisingly little traction, even in the dry.
Stuck down a road that would make the ST seem like a handful, the Honda simply rolls its sleeves up and fires you along the Tarmac at a speed you wouldn’t have previously thought possible.
Trouble is, it’s almost too accomplished for its own good, which left us wondering whether this new car actually has the character that’s so important to a car like this.
That’s a question we’ll be answering in the coming months. But, in the meantime, why not watch the videos above, which should give you a tiny hint why the old model was such a firm favourite here in the carwow office. Just perhaps not on motorways…