Honda's UK-built 146mph EP3 Civic Type R claims sharper styling than the EK9, a high-revving 200hp 2.0-litre VTEC engine, an impressive reliability record and a refreshingly low price tag - making it an ideal used buy. Launched in 2001 the £15,995 EP3 came with 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear spoilers, a mesh front grille, front and rear strut braces and ventilated disc brakes with ABS and EBD.
Limited-slip diff only for Japanese EP3s
In factory trim the 1,204kg EP3 screams past 62mph in 6.6 seconds, but with no limited-slip diff as standard the front end has to be worked that bit harder - as does the wonderfully slick dash-mounted gearbox. With maximum punch only available at very high revs, changing down to overtake becomes the norm (there's only 145lb ft of torque at 5,900rpm). And although the well-balanced EP3 handles very effectively, the steering feedback isn't as direct as the EK9's. As well as original UK cars, there are also some 212hp JDM models knocking around; the specs are similar but the JDM car crucially came with a limited-slip diff. Air-con was an option for EP3s so ensure any car you are considering has it fitted.
A 30th Anniversary £16,995 limited edition of 300 cars followed in 2004, with tinted rear windows, red Recaro seats, a Momo steering wheel, red carpets and door inserts and air conditioning, whilst the facelifted 2004 model received tweaks to the VTEC engine control system providing improved throttle response and increased driveability. The EP3 also gained a lightened flywheel, three-light projector-style headlamps, mirror-mounted indicators, new tail-light clusters, revised bumpers, red seat and door panels inserts as standard and dashes of chrome inside.
More power than EK9 but more weight too
Honda released a final Premier Edition Type R in 2005 with tinted rear windows, red Recaro seats, leather Momo steering wheel plus red carpets and door inserts, priced at £16,950. Over its lifetime the EP3 Type R made up 15 per cent of all UK Civic sales - with 15,653 examples sold in total.
The EP3's current bargain status is confirmed by Rupert Pontin, Head of Valuations at Glass's. "The second generation EP3 Type R is still too new to have reached the bottom of the depreciation curve - as a popular and reliable car rarity isn't yet a factor," he says. "That said rare low-mileage top-condition cars are starting to fetch good money now."
But there are some less than perfect examples around too. "Quite often highly-modified examples can be picked up very cheaply, but you must do your homework - finding a clean one in good condition can be hard," confirms Paul West "There are quite a few tired or damaged Type Rs around too." So if you fancied a modified EP3 then you're better off searching for a cherished standard example and then carrying out any enhancements yourself.
The EP3's engine featured variable intake cam control making it more tuneable than the EK9's B-Series engine, with more powerful JDM cars boasting a different engine with higher compression pistons, different camshafts and revised intake and exhaust manifolds - as well as a different gearbox ratios and that factory-fitted limited-slip diff. But if you want a seriously quick EP3 then a Roots-type supercharger conversion is the best route - expect around 300hp.
Buy if: Value for money is key, or you intend to modify
Don't buy if: You're seeking the ultimate factory Type R experience
We found: 2003 Type R in black, full service history, 36K miles, £4,900
Poor: Under £3,000
Good: £3,000 to £7,000
Special Editions: Premier Edition Type-Rs can sell for £8,000