The Honda Civic Type R offers unrivalled smiles per mile
Its styling is Marmite. The move from naturally aspirated high-revving VTEC to a turbocharged VTEC polarised opinion. We can’t think of another recent hot hatch that has been so intensely debated. One thing everyone seems to agree on though is it’s the best on sale right now. And you better believe us. Its styling is Marmite. The move from naturally aspirated high-revving VTEC to a turbocharged VTEC polarised opinion. We can’t think of another recent hot hatch that has been so intensely debated. One thing everyone seems to agree on though is it’s the best on sale right now. And you better believe us.
You see, four-wheel drive is all well and good, but it adds weight, and because there’s limitless grip, it numbs the drive. Front-wheel drive is regarded as the poorer cousin to rear-wheel drive, but in this setup, it really works.
And we mean really. Like it really, really works.
Honda’s engineers have taken the standard Honda Civic and more than refined it for the track. They’re re-engineered it to absolutely demolish corners. Yes, it sacrifices low-speed comfort for high-speed composure, but the result is a hot hatch that feels a generation ahead of the pack on the twisty stuff. And that’s the point: this is the very best handling hot hatch of the current crop by some margin.
Not only is it the fastest Type R ever around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, but it’s also the fastest front-wheel-drive car around it full stop. With its 7min 43.8sec lap time, it’s also faster than a BMW M2 by a massive 9 seconds. That’s a lifetime on track.
OK, so it beasts everything but exotic machinery on the track, but what’s it like on regular roads? Herein lies the beauty of the Type R. It’s as composed and comfortable in most scenarios as a regular Civic. Leave it in Comfort and it rides carefully with light steering. Stick it in Sport and things get more intense. Stick it in +R mode and you have the same car that’ll annihilate the Nürburgring faster than an M2.
Honda Civic Type R has all the toys.
It looks and feels special too. It isn’t the sleekest hot hatch around (the body kit is bulbous and rather shouty) but no one can deny it has character. Rather than err on the side of caution, Honda made something that stands out. And good on them. The inside is equally special. The bespoke steering wheel with red detailing and bucket seats set the cabin off in the right way. Everything feels suitably sporty.
Pictured: Honda Civic Type R Interior
The Honda Civic Type R has a seriously impressive specification too. Most people opt for the highest spec model, the Type R GT. This adds wireless charging, front and rear parking sensors, Honda CONNECT with Garmin navigation, Blind Spot Information and Cross Traffic monitor to the kit list. Standard kit includes a reversing camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, sat nav and Apple CarPlay. Really, everything you need.
Of course, the beauty of the hot hatch has always been its versatility and the Type R has the competition licked here as well. Its 420-litre boot is bigger than most and if you fold the rear seats you unlock a capacity of 1,580-litres. Space for five and wide-opening rear doors make it as much a friend of the family as it is a weapon on track. For smiles for a mile, cars don’t get much better than this.