Honda Civic Type R
The 2018 Honda Civic Type R

Caroline drives the Honda Civic Type R.

Honda’s Type R badge is legendary, appearing on the brand’s sportiest, most high performance models for over 25 years. After the 2017 launch of the new Honda Civic hatchback, we didn’t have long to wait for the new Honda Civic Type R.

Newly engineered from the ground-up, the new Civic Type R was developed in parallel with the standard Civic hatchback with what Honda claims to be mutual benefits to the dynamics and refinement of both.

It’s true that the Honda Civic Type R is working from a good base because in standard form the Honda Civic is a car that’s really impressed me in the last year for its space and fun to drive quality.

But the Honda Civic Type R has to be something special. With pricing starting from €51,750, the Type R occupies the same territory as the 350hp Ford Focus RS and 310hp Volkswagen Golf R.

The new Honda Civic Type R is lighter and more rigid with a lower centre of gravity. It uses a front wheel drive layout and the same 2.0-litre VTEC Turbo as the previous generation. Except the engine has been reworked to now produce 320hp (up from 310hp).

The interior of the Honda Civic Type R
The interior of the Honda Civic Type R

What’s the Honda Civic Type R like to drive?

The Honda Civic Type R is quick – 0 to 100km is 5.8 seconds – but it makes for a scintillating drive that the numbers can only tell half the story of. In terms of performance it is nothing short of sublime and it has been engineered to put the power to the road with minimal fuss, just glorious noise from the 2.0-litre turbo.

Dual-Pinion Variable-Ratio Electric Power Steering is new to this generation of the Civic Type R. It uses a similar system to the standard Civic, but optimises the variable ratio to deliver a more direct and secure feel at high speed. No matter what the speed, the Civic Type R shows incredible grip and poise through corners with tactile steering that’s quick and deft, and the smooth and precise six speed manual gearbox is deeply satisfying too.

There’s also a helical limited slip differential for greater traction during hard cornering. The front wheels are equipped with a high performance Brembo brake package, developed specifically for the car.

Honda has used an advanced Dual-Axis Strut Front Suspension system to reduce torque steer and enhance ‘on-the-limit’ cornering and steering feel. At the rear, the Type R’s new multi-link suspension enhances ride comfort as well as high speed stability.

New driving modes to enhance driving pleasure

Honda has introduced three driving modes: Comfort, Sport and +R. Each selection tailors the adaptive dampers, steering force, gear shift feeling and throttle response. The Comfort mode is where the suspension is at its most compliant for daily use and I had no issue with ride comfort in this car. Sport mode livens up the throttle response and stiffens things up.

Honda Civic Type R
The Honda Civic Type R starts from €51,750

But +R is a real revelation not to be missed. Even on a back road, press this button and you will feel like turning up at the gates of Mondello Park. It turns the car into a super stiff, eager, roaring hot hatch that will touch even the coldest of hearts! Truly sublime.

Does that wing do anything?

On the outside, Honda for sure has thrown all the bits at new Civic Type R: huge, grin-inducing, aerodynamic rear wing, brake cooling vents, 20″ alloys, lightweight aluminium vented bonnet, and centre mounted triple outlet exhaust. The interior features plenty of red trim to increase the heart rate and the sports seats are really comfortable and supportive.

Like the rest of the Civic range, the new Honda Civic Type R features the Honda SENSING suite of safety technologies including Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Keeping Assist System, Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Assistance and Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control.

Honda Civic Type R
The Honda Civic Type R is a scintillating drive

Buyers can also add a GT Pack for an extra €2,200. This pack adds carbon fibre effect sport garnish with red trim, Blind Spot Information including Cross Traffic Monitor, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, Honda CONNECT with Garmin Navigation, wireless charging pad, 542-watt 12-speaker audio system and LED front fog lights.

The new Honda Civic Type R is not discrete: it’s old-school, ‘look at my massive wing’, immature and exciting. But Honda has addressed any refinement or comfort issues from the previous generation and the Civic Type R can be remarkably well-behaved too for daily use…

Yet even at low speeds this is a car that can thrill and excite. It’s clear that the Civic Type R has been engineered for excellence – on the road and on the track. A true car for enthusiasts.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda Civic Type R GT Pack
€53,950 (Available from €51,750)
Engine:  2.0-litre turbo petrol
Torque: 400Nm
5.8 seconds
Top speed: 272km/h
Claimed Economy: 
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax: 
€750 per year