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How does the new Honda Civic Type R compare to the old one?

The carwow team has driven the 2015 Honda Civic Type R at its launch in Slovakia. However, we’ve also recently tested the previous Civic Type R (called the FN2 model), which was on sale from 2007-2010.

Here are the biggest differences you’ll spot if you’re planning on selling your old Type R and buying a new one.

The new engine is way more powerful in every situation

The new Type R engine is turbocharged, but still very red

The old Type R was famous for having a screamer of an engine that you had to rev hard to go fast. The new Type R packs 100 more horsepower than the old model, but there’s lots of turbocharged torque from low revs to help you tackle slow corners and urban speed limits without having to change gear so often.

Then, when you get to a fast road and accelerate, you’re just pushed back into your seat in a way the old car couldn’t. You can still rev the engine out to 7,000 rpm if you like, but maximum power comes at 6,500 rpm and you’re already going mighty quick by the time you get there. The real difference here is the way the car will accelerate from as low as 2,500rpm.

Winner: New Type R

The old one sounds better

The old Type R’s high-rev scream can’t be beaten

Here’s the flipside to the new engine’s power increase over the old car: it’s lost the manic, almost Formula 1 scream. In its place is a slightly dull boom, which may get on your nerves a little on long journeys. It’s most noticeable at 1,900 rpm and 4,000 rpm. 

 There’s a glimmer of hope for noise fans – you can really hear the new Honda’s turbo working. Accelerate in any gear at any revs and you’re greeted with a whoosh as the turbo sucks air into the engine. Let off the accelerator and there’s an amusing wastegate sound – if you’ve not driven a powerful turbo car, you’re in for a distracting first 10 minutes as you accelerate and slow down repeatedly, listening to the chatter from under the bonnet as excess turbocharged air escapes.

Winner: Old Type R

The new Type R won’t ruin your spine

Those cobbles wouldn’t be much fun in the old car

The most obvious flaw in the old Type R’s armour is its distinctly old-school ride, which is bone-jarringly firm. Back in 2007 this is what passed as sporty, but the 2015 Type R gets adaptive dampers which soften the edge of any lumps and bumps. Sure, it’s still a bumpy ride on broken road surfaces, but the sharper lumps on the road aren’t transmitted straight to your vertebrae. Whereas the old car literally took our breath away on the UK’s roads, the new car simply gives you a firm nudge in the bum.

But what if you do trackdays and need a firmer ride?

Well there’s now a +R mode – activated by a dashboard button – which firms the suspension up by 30%, and – in Honda’s words – gives you the exact setup they used to nail a record Nurburgring lap time. So, each time you press the +R button remember – it’s probably more at home on the Green Hell than the local B roads. It’s pretty stiff but the reward is an even more direct and nimble car in the corners. Speaking of which…

Winner: New Type R

The new Type R is more fun – and faster – in corners

The new car’s launch included track work – and it handled it very well

The old FN2 Type R wasn’t exactly loved by reviewers when it came out, and one of the main criticisms was the fact that it struggled to accelerate hard out of slower corners without spinning a front wheel. 

Luckily, the new one walks all over the old one. It’s not even in the same league.

A mechanical limited slip differential, sticky tyres and well tuned suspension help the new Type R hook into corners faster than you’d dare to go within public speed limits. Driving gods will appreciate the fact that understeer just doesn’t occur unless you’re driving far, far too fast, and you can adjust the car’s line through a corner with a slight lift of the throttle. In layman’s terms, you’re encouraged to go around corners very fast, and the car helps you rather than punishing any excessive corner speed.

The common theme among journalists on the launch of the new car was how stable it feels when braking from high speeds and going into corners a little faster than you intended. Honda’s proud of the fact that it’s the only hot hatch that achieves real downforce – that giant wing on the back isn’t for show. Nor are any of the other slashes or folds in the car’s bodywork: Honda says every line on the outside of the car is there to make it go faster. And it does – the top speed is 167mph, up from the old car’s 146mph.

Winner: New Type R

The new Type R is £7,000 more expensive than the old one

The looks are divisive, but this is one of the new car’s meanest angles

When the 2007 Civic Type R came out, it cost just £23,000 for a top-spec car. For the top-of-the-range 2015 car (the Type R GT), you’ll need to stump up just over £32,000. If you can do without sat-nav and some safety systems you can get a new Type R for £29,995 – or £300 per month on a PCP finance deal. Honda expects more than 80% of owners to opt for the PCP deal, and thinks half of buyers will go for the GT version.

If it’ll help you justify the cost, bear in mind that all Type Rs will be built in Swindon, so you’ll be doing your bit for the UK economy.

Winner: New Type R – the improvements are worth the extra cash

Final score: New Type R wins, 4 – 1

Honda hasn’t forgotten how to build a great hot hatch in the five years that have passed since it last made one. 

The 2015 Civic Type R is leaps and bounds ahead of the old car. In fact, if you want one of the fastest B-road cars on sale full stop, you’d be well advised to take Honda’s new car for a spin.

The biggest downside? There’s already a five month waiting list.

For a more complete overview of what the UK’s critics are saying about it (and it isn’t completely flawless), read our full 2015 Civic Type R review.

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