Shock horror! And for once this isn't a statement that's designed merely to agitate but isn't that shocking after all. I am genuinely gutted and searching for a black armband. Why? Because the Honda Civic Type R has vanished from Honda's configurator. We've checked the online brochure, too: no sign of it there, either. Can it really be true that one of the best hot hatchbacks I've ever driven has disappeared silently in the night, like a cold-war spy on foreign soil? Obviously, we asked the Honda UK press office for confirmation of the FK8 Type R's fate, and this was the reply: 'Yes, it has come off the configurator as we don't have stock of the current model now with the new Civic Type R on its way.' So that's it.
Before the FK8 came along there were those that moaned about its predecessor. Some thought the FK2's aggressive ride and lofty driving position weren't ideal, and both were fair comment. Yet I was happy to take the rough with the smooth because, after a day driving an FK2 around Blyton Park without mercy, I thought it was staggeringly good. I hate to write guff like "it felt like a BTCC car for the road" but, well, it felt like a BTCC car for the road. At least as close as a £30k road car has any right to, and I've driven Touring cars, so know something of what I speak.
Prior to the FK8's launch, the talk was about this new Type R being more comfortable and cuddlier, so I was seriously worried that the FK2's brilliance would be diluted, if not lost completely. Then I went to the launch of the FK8, which was held at the Lausitzring in Germany, scene of Alex Zanardi's terrible crash. The FK8 was indeed more comfortable - ridiculously so, actually - and had you sit lower in the cockpit, in what transpired to be an ideal driving position.
Yet it retained all the brilliance of the FK2 - its raw performance with a diff that could manage it, an unbelievably good front end and with an obedient rear supporting it and hugely effective iron brakes that imitated the anti-fade qualities of ceramics etc. It was a masterstroke of improvement without compromise.
I was so convinced that this was a world-beater that I called it there and then in the video I was tasked to make. Even though I knew that any categoric statement would be immortalised on YouTube forever, I had no doubts in saying: "the Honda Civic Type R will beat the Focus RS and the Golf R." And it did, handsomely. Until the Toyota GR Yaris arrived there was nothing that could touch it, and while the Yaris car is very good, for me, the Type R's all-round package is still better.
Or it was better. What a shame that the FK8 has bowed out without a last hurrah because it was too good to go so quietly. Nevertheless, if it proved one thing, it is that Honda knows how to improve the Type R without ruining its DNA, and there was one thing about the FK8 that even I would acknowledge needed addressing: it's God-awful looks. Thankfully, the new Type R that arrives next year appears to be better resolved in that department, so fingers crossed it goes as well as it looks.
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