The Honda Civic Type R looks and goes like a race car, but is also practical and comfortable enough to use as family transport – not everyone will like those outrageous looks, though
The Honda Civic is built for people who want their family car to accelerate like the starship Enterprise and look like it has been beamed down from another planet.
It’s not for shy and retiring types – to buy the Type R you’ll have to be confident enough in your own skin to not mind being branded a boy racer. It has an armoury of wings and ducts that make the mad Focus RS look like a choirboy.
But it’s not all show. The Civic’s 320hp, 2.0-litre engine can launch it from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and keep going until it hits a top speed of 169mph. Other models are faster – an automatic Volkswagen Golf R fires from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds – but most will be easy pickings for the Honda on a track.
That’s because the Honda weighs less than the VW and the Ford, and because it generates downforce – yep, those spoilers actually do something – that pushes the car into the ground at speed allowing for phenomenal grip around corners. Add brakes that stand up to relentless punishment and suspension that refuses to let the car lean and it’s clear why circuits feel like the Honda’s natural habitat.
The Honda Civic Type R looks like a spaceship and is capable of warp-drive performance
That said, it can also handle mundane tasks. The adjustable suspension allows it to ride comfortably in town and you don’t get deafened at motorway speeds.
The low driving position always feels racy, though, and you get body-hugging sports seats that clamp your body like your least favourite aunt at Christmas. Red highlights and carbon-fibre-look trim pieces, a sporty steering wheel and a solid metal gearknob mean the Honda screams ‘race’ everywhere you look.
Peel away all the sporty decor, though, and you’re left with the bare bones of a practical family car with a big boot and lots of rear legroom. The only disappointment is the shortage of headroom in the back caused by the sporty sloping roof and an infotainment system that’s needlessly tricky to operate.
Safety is good, although the Honda only got four stars from Euro NCAP in 2017 compared to the five stars the Hyundai i30 got in the same year. That said, the Honda features a suite of up-to-date safety features such as active cruise control, automatic emergency braking and traffic-sign recognition.
So the Honda is safe, but really you’ll buy the Type R because it’s loud and proud, super quick, yet still practical enough to ferry the family about in.
For more in-depth information about the Civic Type R, read the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our test over the following pages. Or, to see what kind of savings you can expect on the Civic Type R, click through to our deals page.