More than a quarter of a century on from the original, Honda’s Civic Type R is hot hatch royalty. The latest version is based on the distinctive 10th generation Civic which is longer, lower and wider than ever.
What’s more, the new Type R is no afterthought. It was factored into the development process – and it shows.
More than just a go-faster Civic, it has its own personality and certainly stands out from the crowd.
Looks are subjective, and for some the regular Civic is a little OTT. Well, the Type R takes it to a whole new level.
A mass of spoilers, air intakes and sweeping curves, it’s like nothing else on the road. Slightly more restrained in Polished Metal Metallic, if you opt for Rallye Red of Brilliant Sporty Blue Metallic, then it’s out of this world.
It’s nothing short of epic from the rear especially, thanks to triple exhaust pipes and an enormous wing of saloon car racing proportions.
The new Type R is the best yet. Superbly engineered, exhilarating to drive and impressively refined, it’s up against the likes of the Ford Focus RS, VW Golf R and Seat Leon Cupra 300. Priced from £30,995, it’s also extraordinary value for money.
Unlike many of its rivals, Honda’s stuck with front-wheel drive, and the Type R manages to put down the 300bhp and 295lb ft of torque from its 2.0-litre VTEC turbo petrol engine with remarkable ease.
Thanks to a mightily effective limited-slip differential on the front axle, there’s a freaky amount of traction. With a 0-60mph time of 5.7 seconds, but feeling much faster, and a top speed of 169mph, the stats say it all.
Perhaps the ultimate demonstration of this balance between power and grip is the fact that the new Type R lapped the challenging Nurburging in just seven minutes 43.8 seconds in 2017 – the fastest front-wheel drive on the circuit ever.
Unlike the previous model, which threatened to loosen your fillings at times, the new car’s ride is perfectly comfortable, though it will stiffen up if you switch from Comfort to Sport (the default setting!) and +R modes.
Add to that a slick six-speed manual gearbox, a suitably sporty exhaust note, precise steering, powerful brakes and handling that’s seriously poised, and you’re left with a hot hatch that ticks all the right boxes.
But here’s the thing, we haven’t even touched on the fact that it’s perfectly useable as an everyday car too.
If you can resist the temptation to plant your right foot, it’s capable of 36.7mpg. Then there’s the interior, which not only looks the part with supportive red “Type R” sports seats up front, plus a well laid out dashboard and instrument panel.
Perhaps the only disappointment is that there are only two seats for rear passengers. The good news is that there’s plenty of room for two full-size adults at the back.
Oh, and at 420 litres, the boot is cavernous. Flip the back seats down and the load space increases to 786 litres.
And here’s the icing on the cake. The new Type R’s generous equipment list also includes driver aids and safety systems such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), which means it’s a safe option too, earning a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
Verdict: The new Honda Civic Type R is a magical car – a winged god of the road for just £30k. Blisteringly fast, practical and exciting to drive, yet safe and spacious, if you’re in the market for a hot hatch, you’d be mad not to take it for a test drive.