"That's a boy racer's car."
"No it isn't Grace, it's an incredibly exciting and quite expensive performance car."
Don't like the looks? It'll be gone very quickly!
"Well then, if you can afford one you won't want something that looks like that."
And so the debate about the Civic's styling wagers on. My friend Grace doesn't care about cars, but cared enough about the bewinged Honda to comment. Nearly everyone does, in fact, from neighbours to PHers to strangers at the petrol station. Mostly the response has been positive, the fact it's so dramatic usually drawing praise and enthusiasm. But then you'll be scowled at in the supermarket car park and realise not everyone appreciates the (apparently) Nurburgring-honed aero...
Really this month's update should begin with an apology, an apology to all of those at the Santa Pod Sunday Service. I was terrible at drag racing, not doing justice to the Type R's performance and, worst of all, being beaten by Ben in his bloody TT as well. At least he's been incredibly modest in victory. I'm sorry. I was catching him though, honest.
Brilliant Brembos mean it stops too
With a good start we'd have easily won (excuses, I know) because the Honda is just so damn quick. Even when getting into it straight from cars like the M4 GTS and Elise Cup 250, the way it boosts and goes is shocking. And very entertaining. But it's nice to discover new traits also. Because while you can have a lot of fun with the shift lights ablaze chasing every last rev, it's nearly as rewarding at lower revs too. So strong is the mid-range and so satisfying is the gearbox that going up and down through third, fourth and fifth on a B-road is more fun than you might think. Yes, it's not the traditional Type R way, but it's a new and welcome dimension to the performance.
Another is how refined it is on the motorway. Again, not usually a Type R strong point, but of course now it will sit at around 2,500rpm at the legal limit rather than buzzing away beyond 4,000. And when you're being brake checked on the M1 by half-wits wanting to race, a car that keeps you calm is welcome... That torque ensures overtakes are easy too. VTEC purists will be calling for my head here, but the point is that the new Type R is far more usable (and enjoyable) at saner commitment levels than the aesthetic might suggest. It even streamed Four Thought to the stereo very well from my phone...
Fun at all speeds in fact. No, really
Sorry yes, Type R. Racing. Hot hatch. This month I've also done some experimenting with the '+R' mode, because Honda makes a lot of fuss about it. I won't be doing it again. Yes, the sharper throttle is welcome given how torpid the standard response is, but the ride becomes too harsh and the red illuminated dials are annoying. It's that or nothing too, with none of the individual configurability found in rivals. Selecting +R also appears to change the source button on the wheel, meaning it no longer controls the audio but instead the different racing displays. Not sure on that one, but will investigate further. There is a 0-60mph timer though, plus a quarter-mile one, so perhaps Lowden and I need a rematch.
Elsewhere the news is good, really good; get beyond the looks and it's just a fabulous car to drive. The filler cap has broken but I think that was much my eagerness to get more fuel in and start driving again. In a couple of weeks the Civic is leading a PH convoy out to Wales, including a day at Anglesey, where I think it will be shown in a very good light indeed.
Car: 2016 Honda Civic Type R GT
Run by: Matt
On fleet since: March 2016
Mileage: 2,307 (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: A Type R that rewards at less than flat out? Whatever next?