mReview: Honda Civic Type R – R for Refined?
(Photo Credit: @cookiesncremee)
As Honda winds down production of the FK8 generation Civic Type R and shuts down the Swindon factory that produces it, we take one out for a spin and learn how surprisingly refined this Swindon swan song is.
Think "Honda", or "Type R", and you may start to conjure up images of naturally aspirated VTEC engined Civics. Unforgiving and loud driving machines that require you to keep the car in the right rev band, and which require you to have proper driving talent to keep the car balanced and following the right line in the bends.
Well, the FK8 Civic Type R is none of those things, but we mean that in a good way.
As you shall find out in this review, the current breed of turbocharged Civic Type Rs are actually pretty easy to drive fast, and can be legitimately comfortable cars too!
With Honda shutting down its factory that produces VTEC parts, and even the Swindon plant that produces the current FK8 Type R, it may just be that the days of petrol-engined manual hot hatches are closer to their expiry date than we think.
But for now, we have an FK8R on our hands, and boy are we taking the chance to wring it out.
This particular unit we're testing is a fully-optioned up Civic Type R that Dylan, a young car enthusiast, imported to Singapore himself. For more of his adventures with his Civic Type R, check out his Instagram profile, @fk8_sg.
The Headline Figures
You get a 2.0 litre turbocharged inline-4 churning out 316hp and 400Nm of torque, pushing power to the front wheels through a snappy six-speed manual transmission.
0-100km/h is dusted in 5.9 seconds, and the Civic Type R eventually gets on to a top speed of 272km/h.
But these are just numbers. Where the Civic Type R truly excels at is the way it delivers these figures.
(Seconds before disaster)
The Civic FK8 Type R really is an experience. You step into a solidly built interior with comfortable yet body-hugging sports seats, and then you start the car.
And surprisingly, if you move off in Comfort mode, you could trick your other half that this isn't some internationally-acclaimed track weapon, but just a normal family hatchback with lots of boy racer looks on the outside, and a refreshingly crisp and notchy manual transmission on the inside.
Type R drivers of yore may recall just how much road, engine, and wind noise seeps into the cabin of the FD2R, but the experience is quite different in the FK8. The car feels very quiet and well-insulated from the elements, and in Comfort mode, suspension damping is not only forgiving, but actually supple as well!
In many ways, the FK8 Civic Type R feels more like an Accord Euro R than a Civic Type R. But that changes when you switch the drive mode to Sport.
Take the revs up, and you get a boomier exhaust note, courtesy of the three-pipe exhaust set-up that has a resonator. The steering (which takes just two complete turns lock-to-lock) weights up to become solid and sharp. And then the adaptive dampers get pretty hard, and the throttle response changes.
You'll also be able to find yourself solidly planted down a winding B-road, with a surprising amount of mechanical grip, and an extremely neutral set-up that belies no understeer despite the front-wheel drive architecture.
The Civic Type R really is a confidence-inspiring touge monster in Sport mode, and that's down to all the individual aspects of the car coming together.
The steering is sharp and direct, with so much weight that an individual used to modern electric power assistance might complain about sore arms at the end of the day. However, the driving enthusiast will be very much delighted by the level of feedback, fast response, and confidence that the steering set up can give.
Added to that is a hard suspension that really enables the car to hunker down and tackle swift changes in directions, but yet has enough allowance to absorb bumps so as to not unsettle the car.
Furthermore, throttle response is excellent, and there's also that delightful six speed manual with short throws.
The clutch is heavy but forgiving, and allows for easy engagement and rapid shifts, although the trade-off is that the clutch engagement feels vague and unnecessarily heavy in traffic jams.
If we have one complaint, it's this: when put into +R mode, the Civic Type R doesn't feel any more discernibly sharper or harder.
We were expecting a more hardcore feel to the car, but +R mode did not provide that. Nevertheless, it still stands that the Civic Type R is a very capable performer. However, one should not expect that raw edge from the Type Rs of yore.
An Actually Refined Daily Car
What does one get in return for losing that raw edge? Well, for one, the FK8 Civic Type R is now more multi-faceted.
Whereas the "R" in previous generations of Type Rs stood for "Raw" and "Race", the FK8 Civic Type R also adds "Refined" to the mix.
The Civic Type R has evolved to become a comfortable, refined, and solid cruiser that feels not unlike a continental hatchback, which can also deliver a sharp, well-damped and confident drive.
For that, we're willing to trade off the old Type R characteristics of being a 100% raw a 100% of the time.
Factoring in great rear legroom space, and a cavernous 414 litre boot, this touge weapon can really function as a refined daily car for the family. Just remember to switch it into Comfort mode.
This mReview was possible thanks to @fk8_sg.
Editor's Note: The car reviewed is a Singapore-spec unit. Local variants may have differences in powertrain and/or trim options.
Engine: 1,996cc DOHC VTEC Turbo Inline-4
Power: 316hp @ 6,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 2,500rpm
Fuel Consumption: 11.6km/l
Top Speed: 272km/h
Drivetrain: Six-Speed Manual; Front-Wheel Drive
Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front); Disc (Rear)
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,557mm x 1,877mm x 1,434mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 47L
Boot Capacity: 414L
Wireless Smartphone Charging
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
Photos in this article by @cookiesncremee