RE: Honda Civic Type R (FN2) | PH Used Review

RE: Honda Civic Type R (FN2) | PH Used Review

Tuesday 3rd September

Honda Civic Type R (FN2) | PH Used Review

The FN2 is famously unloved - but also the last NA Civic Type R. PH slips on the revisionist spectacles



Back then...

When the FN2 Honda Civic Type R was launched, the days of naturally-aspirated mass-produced cars were already numbered. With each passing evolution of VTEC technology, Honda engineers were under increasing pressure to reduce emissions and enhance performance without raising costs - and in 2007 their job was made to seem all the more difficult by the widespread introduction of turbochargers among its rivals. Honda had good reason to stick with atmospheric induction, of course, as it gave the Civic its greatest USP. Revs.

Renault Sport hadn't abandoned the technology either - the 197 was only fed by a cold air pipe, as well - but Honda was significantly hungrier for engine speed. The lightly updated EP3 unit didn't offer 201hp until 7,800rpm, some 550rpm later than its French equivalent. It was unique in the segment, as its predecessor had been.

Honda's decision not to significantly alter its Civic Type R powertrain with the introduction of an otherwise all-new model was met with both consternation and support. While there were those who welcomed the continuation of the breed, others argued a heavier platform - the FN2 was 1,301kg to the EP3's 1,270kg - warranted enhanced firepower. Why had Honda given its quick three-door only 1hp more and an unchanged torque output? Unsurprisingly, it was chiefly the fault of stricter emissions standards.

Underneath, the third-generation Civic Type R also appeared to take a step back, as it used independent front suspension with a less sophisticated torsion beam and trailing arm setup at the rear (the EP3 was independent all round). Then there was the Marmite exterior - which you can find your own simile for - and yet more yeast extract in the cabin, where Honda had indulged its sci-fi tendencies while also lowering the six-speed manual 'box to a more conventional position. Which also upset as least as many people as it pleased.


Nowadays...

Has the Civic's styling improved with time? Obviously it's subjective - but it's fair to say its successors haven't exactly proven bullseye-grade achievements, and there's something to be said for the FN2's less cluttered look. The brace of red buckets seats inside Honda's heritage car certainly look the part and the instrument cluster's central rev counter with central digital screen does feel far more special than the EP3's layout. Moreover the placement of a numerical speedo on top and a line of gear shift LEDs next to them is brilliantly functional - and far simpler to get used to than the digital stuff you encounter today.

Conversely, the seating position doesn't offer any of the sports car-like snugness of the current FK8; the supportive buckets have you perched slightly too high and the steering wheel's placement is a little too low for purposeful comfort. But, in isolation the FN2 feels like an amenable place to sit, even if the steep slope of the bonnet and permanently visible rear wing make parking slightly tricky. On the move though, it's sight of the spoiler which keeps you in the right frame of the mind, and the short nose which has the Civic wrapping around you.

The engine, though, as it was in its EP3 guise, is the star of the show. Not all the time, mind. At low to middling revs the FN2 is as moderate as a Liberal Democrat manifesto. It is anonymously and worryingly benign, and almost the exact opposite of what we've slowly come to expect from a hot hatch. But then, when you're minded to send it spinning beyond 7,000rpm, does it come alive. Yes, that's a familiar traits that was also true of earlier Civics, but the FN2 has a different profile high-speed cam to the EP3 so the improvements are more gradual, improving driveability and real-world pace and making the tight gated, short throw six-speed manual all the more enjoyable to use. Even the clutch pedal offers genuine feel and it's easy to roll your foot onto the throttle with every downshift, so you can revel with each action as the VTEC end of the engine beckons you to work it harder and harder.

The FN2's chassis is not quite so convincing. The less sophisticated suspension configuration forced Honda to utilise harder spring rates, making the model brittle at low speeds and busy at pace. But where you're wincing over joins in the road and edges of speed bumps at normal speed, it's easier to forgive the chassis at speed because it delivers such a responsive front end. While not everyone will appreciate a car that bounces into braking zones, as the revs rebound in unison, others might find something to like in the FN2's unapologetic way of doing things. It will cock an inside rear wheel around a hairpin, and while the firmness is not accompanied by BTCC-like levels of adjustability, the presence of a limited-slip differential is something to be grateful for in the later cars.


Should you?

The FN2's inability to build on the fine foundations of the EP3 - not to mention its divisive looks - left the model floundering during its production run, especially when compared to the cars leaving Dieppe at the same time. Its lacklustre reputation though comes with an obvious upside: it is conspicuously cheap. It is also (again, using contemporaneous Renault products as a benchmark) built for longevity, functionality and practically.

Well looked after, fairly low mileage early FN2s go for little more than Β£5,000. Similarly tidy EP3s have long since appreciated past that point despite their longer years. For someone after the cheapest way into a reliable, still fairly modern world of Type R ownership, the FN2 is therefore recommendable. And you have to wonder if in the not too distant future, when everything is hybridised or else fully electric, the very last naturally-aspirated Civic Type R might finally have its day.


SPECIFICATION - HONDA CIVIC TYPE R (FN2)

Engine: 1,998cc, inline-4
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 201@7,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 142@5,600rpm
0-62mph: 6.6 secs
Top speed: 146mph
Weight: 1,301kg
MPG: 31
CO2: 215g/km
Price new: Β£18,619
Price now: Β£5,000+

Search for an FN2 Honda Civic Type R here








Author
Discussion

Petrolism

Original Poster:

42 posts

51 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
Probably a comparative bargain, but the uninspiring chassis on these (Compared to say a DC2's) and the Spaceship styling doesn't do it any major favours. That said, it's probably at close to its bottom of the market pricing, so now may be the time to buy one, if prices of EP3's and older V-Tec Type R's are anything to go by.

lee_erm

806 posts

138 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
Those cars from Dieppe you talk about also have the same unsophisticated rear suspension.

I think the cars biggest problem was Clarksons review, despite Top Gear magazine awarding the car hot hatch of the year a few months later.

Edited by lee_erm on Tuesday 3rd September 06:39

plumslikerocks

7 posts

31 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
Always had a soft spot for these, especially at current prices. I read that the ride / handling on these was totally remediated by a set of aftermarket progressive springs....is this the case?

Oz83

399 posts

84 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
lee_erm said:
Those cars from Dieppe you talk about also have the same unsophisticated rear suspension.

I think the cars biggest problem was Clarksons review, despite Top Gear magazine awarding the car hot hatch of the year a few months later.

Edited by lee_erm on Tuesday 3rd September 06:39
The annoying thing about Clarkson is that he's usually right.

I'd have to agree with him in this case. I owned 2 EP3s then one of these and it just didn't drive as well. It was just as fast but not as lively. It was even crashier over bumps too, if that's even possible.

cerb4.5lee

12,330 posts

125 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
I've always preferred the looks of these compared to the EP3 and the EP3 just looked very plain/ordinary to my eyes. These seem a really good value car and I toyed with getting one a couple of years ago.

I really like the shape but I don't think that the performance lives up to the looks. I remember out dragging one off the lights in my E90 330i and that was a much heavier car. I expected this to see the 330i off pretty easily.

TypeRTim

55 posts

39 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
Had one of these for three years, a 2007 GT in Silver with the GP Pack and HFT/Nav.

Absolutely fantastic car. IMHO, the best looking civic Type R. It has most certainly aged the best, a tidy FN2 looks fresher than some FK2s to me, the FK series are too fussy. The interior was ergonomically fantastic, every control that was used commonly was within easy reach of the wheel and the Nav screen and digital speedo were right in the eyeline.

Yes, the driving position was compromised thanks to the fuel tank being under the front seats rather than the rear bench and it lacked the torque of the turbo engines in it's rivals, but it had buckets of personality! Before getting the FN, I test-drove a couple of EP3s (felt so dated inside and the VTEC changeover was savage) a mk.5 Golf GTi (competent, but as bland as a blank sheet of paper), mk.1 Leon Cupra R (fast, but dull to look at and felt cheap as chips inside), Focus ST (wonderful engine, but couldn't afford the fuel bill at the time), Astra VXR (could only find chavved up ones in my price range) and a mk.2 Octavia Vrs (great car, but i didn't need anything as big at the time). The Civic beat them all in personality and grin factor for more of the time, plus it was economical (returning regular 37mpg tanks) and the boot was massive, especially considering the 'under-boot' and the fact the rear seats folded completely flat.

In every day driving, you honestly don't notice or care about the rear suspension set up, other than the ride being quite harsh (brutal if on the optional Rage 19" rims). But you don't buy a hot hatch to get a cossetting limo like ride....


greenarrow

1,720 posts

62 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
cerb4.5lee said:
I really like the shape but I don't think that the performance lives up to the looks. I remember out dragging one off the lights in my E90 330i and that was a much heavier car. I expected this to see the 330i off pretty easily.
Hmm, RWD car with superior traction and power to weight ratio of 167/BHP ton (or 176 BHP/ton for LCI model) outdrags FWD car with power to weight ratio of 151 BHP/ton off the lights, hardly a shock that one - I'm not quite sure what you expected !!

Funny reading this article today as I've been thinking about one of these for a while. Compared to the similar era GTI MK5, they're a lot cheaper year for year and likely to be more reliable. I think right now, the FN2 is a really good value buy. They are slipping down in price to the point where an FN2 is as cheap as a rough old EP3. Don't seem to be rusting as badly yet either.

Torquey

1,636 posts

173 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
I love this car for what it is.
The EP3 maybe lighter a more nimble but some say previous gen Elise's are too. Its Health and safety bullst progress apparently.

when I bought one it I also looked at the competition (VXR, ST, GTI) and I preferred this.
I've never noticed the rear suspension, seating position or ride to be any worse than many other cars.

lcs_turbo

42 posts

43 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
The car in the photos is the Honda press car that was stolen last week. Think it was recovered a few days later

cerb4.5lee

12,330 posts

125 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
greenarrow said:
cerb4.5lee said:
I really like the shape but I don't think that the performance lives up to the looks. I remember out dragging one off the lights in my E90 330i and that was a much heavier car. I expected this to see the 330i off pretty easily.
Hmm, RWD car with superior traction and power to weight ratio of 167/BHP ton (or 176 BHP/ton for LCI model) outdrags FWD car with power to weight ratio of 151 BHP/ton off the lights, hardly a shock that one - I'm not quite sure what you expected !!
You make a fair point. smile

I think that it was just my own perception of the 330i(it was just a boring/heavy family saloon that never actually felt that quick to me personally), whereas I saw the Type-R as a hot hatch with a sporty badge, so in my mind I expected it to be much quicker that's all.

Oakman

164 posts

103 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
I have to own up to always liking the look of this era Civic Type R, certainly preferable to its dynamically superior newer replacement - but that’s a can of worms not worth re opening here.....Oooops

The sci fi Darth Vader esque styling looked appropriate for the sporty version of the hatchback.

As the much revered (sic) Clarkson once said in one of his earliest articles in Hot Car magazine , “no man goes to bed with an ugly woman, but often wakes in the morning next to one”. Relating to ones choice of motor vehicle and it’s design !

Drekly

35 posts

3 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
I did look at these a while back when seeing what was about in that price bracket. The power is OK but "Torque (lb ft): 142@5,600rpm" is the killer.
The Clio 200 weighs 100kg less and has 159lb ft from a 2 litre NA engine. Sure the Honda is going to be better screwed together, but with the handling and ride getting lukewarm reviews it doesn't really stack up.


Durzel

7,748 posts

113 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
Test drove one as an EP3 CTR owner looking to upgrade and wasn't very impressed. The interior was nice, felt and looked much better than the EP3 to my eyes, but the performance just wasn't there, It seemed to want to hide the performance and as a result felt lethargic to me?

There's no excuse for releasing a new version of a hot hatch that is slower than the one before it. None.

HorneyMX5

4,531 posts

95 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
Had one and loved it, would own another in a heartbeat. My old Readers thread is here: https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&...

AMG01

402 posts

87 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
TypeRTim said:
Had one of these for three years, a 2007 GT in Silver with the GP Pack and HFT/Nav.

Absolutely fantastic car. IMHO, the best looking civic Type R. It has most certainly aged the best, a tidy FN2 looks fresher than some FK2s to me, the FK series are too fussy. The interior was ergonomically fantastic, every control that was used commonly was within easy reach of the wheel and the Nav screen and digital speedo were right in the eyeline.

Yes, the driving position was compromised thanks to the fuel tank being under the front seats rather than the rear bench and it lacked the torque of the turbo engines in it's rivals, but it had buckets of personality! Before getting the FN, I test-drove a couple of EP3s (felt so dated inside and the VTEC changeover was savage) a mk.5 Golf GTi (competent, but as bland as a blank sheet of paper), mk.1 Leon Cupra R (fast, but dull to look at and felt cheap as chips inside), Focus ST (wonderful engine, but couldn't afford the fuel bill at the time), Astra VXR (could only find chavved up ones in my price range) and a mk.2 Octavia Vrs (great car, but i didn't need anything as big at the time). The Civic beat them all in personality and grin factor for more of the time, plus it was economical (returning regular 37mpg tanks) and the boot was massive, especially considering the 'under-boot' and the fact the rear seats folded completely flat.

In every day driving, you honestly don't notice or care about the rear suspension set up, other than the ride being quite harsh (brutal if on the optional Rage 19" rims). But you don't buy a hot hatch to get a cossetting limo like ride....

I had a 2009 GT in Milano Red for 4 years, 5 years ago and I loved it, tbh I shouldnt have sold it. Fast, practical, boot is massive, had the rage alloys, loved the way it looked. Agree on everyday driving, the suspension didn't bother me. Being a Honda, nothing ever went wrong with it, only ever needed a service every year, bulletproof. I miss it

dufunk

174 posts

68 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
I don't think the clio put out its stated 197 as they weren't even as quick as a FN2 considering that 100kg difference maybe gearing too.

Jon_S_Rally

548 posts

33 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
lee_erm said:
Those cars from Dieppe you talk about also have the same unsophisticated rear suspension.

I think the cars biggest problem was Clarksons review, despite Top Gear magazine awarding the car hot hatch of the year a few months later.

Edited by lee_erm on Tuesday 3rd September 06:39
Exactly what I thought when I read the article. People are so quick to jump on the rear suspension bandwagon with cars like this, while often putting cars like the Megane, Clio and Fiesta ST on a pedestal, even though they use the same arrangement. It just makes it difficult to see it as anything other than lazy writing. If those cars are so good, is the Civic "bad" because of the fact it has a twist beam, or is it because it isn't as well tuned as it could have been? There is a very distinct difference.

I used to work with a guy that had done quite a lot of ride tuning on this generation of Civic and he said the hard ride (across the range, not just in the Type-R) was a result of the front suspension having very little travel. Due to the steep angle of the bonnet, the struts were short in order to give sufficient clearance under the bonnet for pedestrian protection reasons. This meant that the cars ended up being very stiff. I spent some time driving a cooking 1.8 model that my sister had and that was very stiff for what it was. That's a very different story to needing stiff spring rates because of the rear axle design...

I don't mind these cars really. They look infinitely better than the "bread van" EP3 that they replaced and have a much nicer interior. I do prefer the turbocharged offerings in terms of daily grunt but, for the money these command, I would have thought they are a decent buy. I think I would take a Clio 197/200 over one but, if you want something a bit bigger, I can see why this would appeal, especially with the fold-flat rear seats etc.

DanielSan

14,364 posts

112 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
I bought one a few months ago as a cheap runner, they're nice enough day to day and the ride has improved with fitting Eibach springs and adding some Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2's to at least take some unsprung weight away, but I wish I'd got a 225 F1 Megane now for similar cash, I'd have had another R26 but just couldn't quite find one for the amount of I was looking to spend. The K20 is still a brilliant engine, in every other way though the FN2 is just not as good as the Renault.


Edited by DanielSan on Tuesday 3rd September 10:09

HM-2

4,574 posts

114 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
I'm one of the oddballs who much prefers the FN2 to its predecessor. Possibly not as good at 10/10ths on the track, but better everywhere else IMO.

JackThrust

141 posts

108 months

Tuesday 3rd September
quotequote all
I had one of these for about a year, got rid of it as my wife really hated the poor ride (I did find it a bit tiresome as well) however I really, really wish I'd kept it! Brilliant car in so many ways, if you're thinking of getting one do it, they're an absolute bargain.