What an exciting time it is to be in the market for a hot hatch. From Suzuki Swift Sport through Fiesta ST, 208 GTI, Megane Renaultsport, Leon Cupra, Focus RS and right up to Mercedes-AMG A45, there are plenty of options for those after practical performance.
You want subtle? Look elsewhere!
Honda Civic Type R
, perhaps as extreme and as fast as front-wheel drive hatches currently get. And before you complain, that's because a
Leon Ultimate Sub8
is special order only and the
is sold out. In series production front-wheel drive cars, there's nothing else with over 300hp and such a strong track focus.
Moreover, this is the return of Honda Type Rs, a performance brand the motoring landscape has been without for many years. That's got to be worth investigating further, right? And it's a turbocharged Type R Honda as well...
Anyway, more detailed observations on those can follow in future updates. Here's the big PH welcome for the Type R, where we can share first impressions and plans for the next few months. And all of you can observe how expensive it is...
RK16 RNY is a Type R GT, the GT adding £2,300 over the standard car for Garmin nav, parking sensors, auto wipers, auto lights, electric mirrors, climate control and various active safety tech (blind spot assist, traffic sign recognition, forward collision warning and so on). Honda expects around 80 per cent of UK Type Rs to be GTs. We had a choice of colour - it has to be Championship White for a fast Honda - and the £140 Elegance Floor Carpets are also fitted, though nobody is quite sure how they've made it on. That makes for a grand total of £32,960 on the road. And yes, you could have an M135i for that. A Focus RS, in Nitrous Blue with the Recaro seats, 19-inch forged wheels and SYNC2 nav, is £32,945. A comparison we will be returning to!
Championship White THE Type R colour
Seven days in with the Civic Type R, there's unsurprisingly a great deal to talk about. As discovered over Christmas there are traits that will irritate immediately - not being able to see the speedo, the baffling infotainment system and the terrible turning circle. That being said I'm already discovering new and endearing virtues of the Civic, on top of its myriad existing talents. It's far more refined than you might expect, for example. The centre console displays can be switched off, making it a really relaxing driving environment at night. And it's a spacious five-seater, as I found out over the weekend. In fact I'm already being pestered for lifts quite a lot!
Aside from those more mundane points, everything that was so thrilling about the Civic from first exposure is most definitely still evident. The superb brakes, excellent gearbox and outrageous speed shine through, points I'm especially keen to exploit at a few track outings very soon. We probably should venture to the Nurburgring too. And don't worry, it was delivered already run in with 600 miles.
It's been an encouraging first week then; I might even be coming round to the styling! But expect a lot more on the Civic over the summer, what with that pesky Focus around and plenty of previous fast Civics to compare it with too. If you are an owner I'd love to hear how you're getting on, or indeed if you were considering one and chose another option. Finally, if you want to have a poke around, it will be at Santa Pod on Sunday - see you there!
Car: 2016 Honda Civic Type R GT
Run by: Matt
On fleet since: March 2016
Mileage: 1,126 (delivered on 625)
List price new: £32,960 (Type R GT at £32,295, plus £525 for Championship White paint and £140 for Elegance Floor Carpets
Last month at a glance: No missing the latest addition to the PH Fleet!