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RE: Honda Civic Type R (FK8): Driven

RE: Honda Civic Type R (FK8): Driven

Sunday 18th June

Honda Civic Type R (FK8): Driven

If it drives well then you can overlook the, er, looks - right?



Even the biggest fans of the previous Civic Type R - we'll count ourselves among them - would have to concede that it did have a few issues. The throttle response was really quite poor, the +R mode super stiff, the seat set too high... while hugely likeable and capable, the FK2 Type R was not perfect.

Therefore this FK8 has quite a simple job. If it can address those flaws while retaining all that was good about the previous car - exciting turbo engine, fabulous gearbox, great track dynamics - then it could make a superb hot hatch.


Oh yes, and the styling. To think we'd made it nearly 100 words without mentioning that. What do you reckon? While different than before, there are common themes from the last Type R: namely that there's still a lot going on, that the front end is very aggressive and that Honda claims all of it is for tangible aero benefit. All of it. In profile this is a very different vehicle - the wheelbase is increased by 95mm and the overall length by 165mm - but it's up for debate as to whether it's actually a good-looking car. Certainly you can see the styling putting people off before they've driven it.

And that's a real shame because, quite frankly, this Civic Type R is bloody fantastic to drive. It begins before you've even moved a metre in fact; shifting the fuel tank means the driver's hip point is now 50mm lower than before, making a huge difference to the driving position. You're low in the car now, secure and in the mood, rather than perched high as you were before. It means the relationship with the pedals and gearstick is better too, pushing through and reaching across rather than, well, down in the old car. The seats - now 10 per cent lighter - are again fantastic, comfortable and supportive and everything you would want in a hot hatch.


Start the Civic and the good news continues; those three pipes out back are not only functional (the middle pipe helps reduce boominess at speed too) but give the Civic a more purposeful noise. Essentially there's less turbo whoosh and more rasping four-cylinder once you're up to speed, which has to be seen as a worthwhile improvement. Sure, it's not suddenly a Spoon EK9 or one of the VTEC icons, but the noise does now at least add a little to the enjoyment rather than detract from it.

There are now three drive modes for the Civic Type R: Comfort, Sport and +R. The car defaults to Sport on start up, which feels between the old Comfort and +R mode. If anything, in fact, the longer wheelbase and multi-link rear axle - replacing the old torsion beam - have given the Type R better road manners than before. It rides more plushly around town, even in the Sport mode, and is hushed at motorway speeds. Even on a derestricted autobahn in fact, it's quiet, composed and super stable.


However, there are some initial problems on the road too. More driving modes means more steering modes means, frankly, more disappointment. Steering has never been a Civic Type R strong point and the same is true here. A variable ratio has been added, which doesn't seem to get in the way, with the bigger issues being the artificial weight and general numbness. With no individual mode either, you can't have the Comfort steering - which feels the least obstructive - with the sharper throttle response or tighter dampers, and that feels like a missed opportunity.

And then there's the rev-match. Yes, it works very well and, yes, it's handy for those people who can't heel-and-toe. However not only is the car really rewarding to master your own downshifts on, but the rev-match can't be disabled on the move. The idea of stopping a car, going into a menu, and then a sub-menu, to turn off rev-matching is irritating; in practice it's even more of a pain. Leave it off and revel in a fabulous gearshift, much improved throttle response (a single-mass flywheel has replaced the dual-mass one) and an excellently judged brake pedal. Apparently though, both the steering and the rev-match technology have been introduced through customer demand...


Fortunately those two are the only blots, as this car has retained that frantic, ceaseless intensity of the previous Type R. It always feels fast - assisted now by shorter ratios - eggs you on into ever earlier throttle applications and gives you so much confidence through the brake pedal, grip and traction. It's a focused, exciting, thrilling road car, albeit with a more liveable side than before as well.

And on track? It's arguably even more impressive. The engine's improved willingness to chase 7,000rpm, that improved driving position, and the additional stability from the new rear axle; all contribute to making a very good track car even better still. On circuit it still feels rapid and unflappably stable too. In fact, as before, the weakest link - beyond the driver, of course - are the Continental SportContact 6 tyres. They're very good, though lacking the ultimate purchase and resistance to understeer of something like a Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2. There's a reason why that tyre is used on the Megane Trophy-R, Golf GTI Clubsport S and others...


So yes, the Civic Type R has initially left a resoundingly positive initial impression. What's key to note however is that this feels a car very much in the mould of its predecessor, with a kind of touring car vibe that prioritises absolute composure and track pace. If that appeals then you will love what Honda has done, though it's hard to imagine this Type R convincing the detractors; its range of abilities is broader than ever, but it remains a harder-edged car than something like a Golf GTI. For those after something more exciting, however, the Civic Type R absolutely nails its brief: here's a hot hatch that's incredibly fast, fantastically rewarding to drive on road and great on track yet also comfortable, refined and extremely practical. This is, after all, a Honda Civic. It's a brilliant combination of talents and therefore perhaps - perhaps - the best hot hatch on sale at the moment. If you can see past the looks...


HONDA CIVIC TYPE R (FK8)
Engine
: 1,996cc, turbocharged 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 320@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@2,500-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 5.8sec
Top speed: 169mph
Weight: 1,451kg (with fluids and driver)
MPG: 36.7 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 176g/km
Price: £30,995 (£32,995 for GT version)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

Shivas9K

Original Poster:

1 posts

69 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
Looks like the makings of a fantastic car.

I'm sure there will still be those that want a 4WD system and less agressive styling, but then I think they may be missing the point Honda is trying to make!

Good effort on making something original and I'm going to be interested on how this car ages when looking back in 5-10 years...

mp3manager

3,817 posts

120 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
Firstly, the FK2 throttle response is a tad poor but anything will be compared to my previous DC5 and DC2 before it.

Secondly, +R mode was not too stiff and anybody who complains about it is a big jessie.

And finally, if you found the seat height to be too high, then you're obviously a freak.

I like my FK2 and I'll be buying a FK8 in about 18 months or so....despite the electric handbrake, which I really do not like.


Loyly

15,684 posts

83 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
What a tremendous car. I love this and the FK2. Glad to hear the drive is spot on.

Ahbefive

10,092 posts

96 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
£33k for a hideously overstyled car that is still only fwd? I'm sure some will buy it and I bet it ia fun to drive but I don't expect it to be particularly popular as it's just so "aesthetically challenged".

SirSquidalot

2,649 posts

89 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
Looks like they've sorted out the issues the previous car had then! I think in black it might look good...
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Bob the Cop

57 posts

8 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
mp3manager said:
Firstly, the FK2 throttle response is a tad poor but anything will be compared to my previous DC5 and DC2 before it.

Secondly, +R mode was not too stiff and anybody who complains about it is a big jessie.

And finally, if you found the seat height to be too high, then you're obviously a freak.

I like my FK2 and I'll be buying a FK8 in about 18 months or so....despite the electric handbrake, which I really do not like.
As an FK2 owner I have to agree with your comments. +1 on the electric handbrake, the one dislike i have with the new Civic.

I have never driven a DC5 or DC2 so I cannot compare the throttle response. I am happy with the way the FK2 performs.
I am looking forward to a test drive in the FK8. The only other issue is, will the FK8 may become a more common sight on the road compared with the rarity of the FK2?

janesmith1950

1,347 posts

19 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
If it keeps breaking down do you get a free entry to the Indy500?

WJNB

966 posts

85 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
Buy the standard car, in bright red of course & put an R badge on it. Only a few anoraks would know it's not the real thing.
After all plenty of BMW & Mercedes owners do the same thing with M & AMG badges ............

lewisf182

1,680 posts

112 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
Really like the look of this new civic. My only gripe would be it's a tad slow 0-60 given the power? My old 130i was the same with 265bhp 10 years ago so doesn't seem much progress? Then again it's not much slower than my 320hp 996 c4s so go figure!

Ahbefive

10,092 posts

96 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
lewisf182 said:
Really like the look of this new civic. My only gripe would be it's a tad slow 0-60 given the power? My old 130i was the same with 265bhp 10 years ago so doesn't seem much progress? Then again it's not much slower than my 320hp 996 c4s so go figure!
It's called weight transfer. FWD is stifled by this, even with 400bhp and road tyres it would not improve much on this time.

lewisf182

1,680 posts

112 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
Ahbefive said:
lewisf182 said:
Really like the look of this new civic. My only gripe would be it's a tad slow 0-60 given the power? My old 130i was the same with 265bhp 10 years ago so doesn't seem much progress? Then again it's not much slower than my 320hp 996 c4s so go figure!
It's called weight transfer. FWD is stifled by this, even with 400bhp and road tyres it would not improve much on this time.
Yeah i get that to an extent. But then by what you say we've basically reached the limits of FWD? I bet it's a monster once rolling though

u04pww2

37 posts

21 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
I hated this car when i first saw it but i'm now starting to come round, love the front and back but hate the side profile. Can imagine it would be an epic drive round some of the highland roads up here.
Interesting to see how much further manufacturers will push it in the power stakes for future hot hatches as 316bhp is more than enough i'd say.

Ali_T

3,246 posts

181 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
Good to know it drives well but, seriously, I just couldn't! It's utterly, utterly awful to look at.

750turbo

5,618 posts

148 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
Ali_T said:
Good to know it drives well but, seriously, I just couldn't! It's utterly, utterly awful to look at.
It would be horrid if we all looked the same thing though - For me, it is stunning, and I am an old git, and biased smile

Cannot wait to see it in the flesh.

Sion111R

17 posts

16 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
Will reserve judgment until I can see one in the metal.
Surely can't really be as bad as the photos suggest.

Usget

3,860 posts

135 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
I really want one and am going to try very hard to make sure I can have one as my next car. I even like the looks.

Then again I am a committed Honda fanboi.

Vee12V

712 posts

84 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
Ali_T said:
Good to know it drives well but, seriously, I just couldn't! It's utterly, utterly awful to look at.
This. Just as with the previous Type-R I'd be embarrassed to be seen in one.

Ahbefive

10,092 posts

96 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
lewisf182 said:
Yeah i get that to an extent. But then by what you say we've basically reached the limits of FWD? I bet it's a monster once rolling though
It is basically the limits of what can be achieved by that amount of power and weight on that width & size of tyre made with that type of modern compound. FWD drag cars have to run massively wide front wheels and tyres with super sticky slick tyres as other drag cars have on rear wheels.

It's not practical to run a drag setup on a road car and nor would it make for good cornering ability. Maybe things will improve slightly in future with new tyre compounds but essentially you can only improve as much as the physics allow and fwd is heavily limited by weight transfer.

As far as I can tell to 60mph this car has only improved on a mk2 focus RS from 8 years ago (2009) by 0.2 of a second.

macky17

1,774 posts

113 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
Ahbefive said:
As far as I can tell to 60mph this car has only improved on a mk2 focus RS from 8 years ago (2009) by 0.2 of a second.
...and yet the civic would feel massively faster, annihilate the Ford in-gear and bury it on any sequence of corners - all of which only highlights how ludicrous this benchmark of acceleration/performance is and what a waste of time it is to even discuss it. Hence I'll stop now.

Anyway...

I like the looks this has as well, in fact it's growing on me pretty quickly.

No doubt some clever sod will develop a box which allows you to separately configure the steering and throttle modes (strange oversight - how hard can that be to program in?) Otherwise it sounds terrific. I will own one one day but not from new.

Journalistic gripe: I really HATE the thing where the writer pretends they can't think of a better word: e.g. "if you can overlook the... er... looks" or "It's the total and utter immersion which Codemasters has, well, mastered", etc. etc. Cheesy and trite. Please stop it.

WCZ

4,698 posts

118 months

Monday 12th June
quotequote all
£30k for a 170mph car, can't complain about value