Race Mode Engaged: 306-HP Honda Civic Type R Tested!
It’s been nearly two decades since we’ve last seen a Type R on this side of the pond, only thing is, it had an Acura stamp on the front. With the Ford Focus RS, VW Golf R, and the Subaru WRX STi beating around the bush, it was just a matter of time before Honda imported the Civic Type R to the U.S. streets causing mayhem and turning our quiet neighborhoods into the fast and the stupid. However, while the Type R is a bit like a unicorn or forbidden fruit, it has taken a lot of convincing to bring over this hot hatch to the state side, and boy, are we in for a treat.
Like a sassy drag queen, – its design is obnoxious, over the top, and just down right ridiculous. It’s a style only a 14-year-old boy would live – good thing we’re still young at heart. It brings out our inner teenager. Give it some lasers and a neon green underbody glow and all the girls will be begging for ride. Behind that body however lies a piece of art, an engineering wonder that even has some performance drivers scratching their head. Unlike its rivals, the Type R is front wheel drive only. Not only does this help save over $10-grand but it makes the Type R something truly special.
We already knew the Type R was going to be good – question was, how good? With the six-speed manual pulling out less than 5 seconds to 60 mph from the 306-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, this was just a start to something extraordinary. But what sets the Type R apart is not only its performance capabilities, but the ability to live with it on a day-to-day. With less than an inch of rubber from the 20-inch aluminum wheels touching the asphalt and despite having expressively stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, the ride quality is surprisingly satisfactory. Even in its harshest +R mode, that heightens the weight of the steering and stiffens the adaptive dampers, it can be driven every day without slightest discomfort of driving.
The 80’s are back into play with the dawn of the fuel-efficient turbochargers taking over. This engine however is a bit like a lioness, you don’t know it’s there until it attacks your face off. It’s quiet and hushed, but when its 295 lb-ft of torque come in at 2700 rpms, the burst of thrust sends our butt cheeks into another dimension. But since the Type R uses an electric handbrake, the whimsical hissing of the turbo releasing will have to be cheeky way of hitting it off with the ladies. As for that grouchy neighbor though, they shouldn’t be alarmed, the three-tipped exhaust is as quiet as a racoon sneaking off with your bag of Doritos.
Being front wheel drive, there is a lot the Type R has going against it. However, Honda engineers have managed to work out a level of balance and control that can only be found in certain high performance super cars. The ability to corner at such high rates of speed without enduring understeer or body roll is astonishing. They made the impossible, possible. The amount of responsiveness from the heavily weighted steering is impeccable, just turn, point and the Type R goes in the direction its told to go in. There is so much grip from the Continental Sport Contact performance tires that even if we try to get the Type R to break loose, it doesn’t, it’s just stays on course. In a straight line, the Type R’s party piece is no turbo steer thanks to its limited slip differential; however, tap the drive mode into +R, and the tires will break loose, shredding rubber like that drag queen peeling their spandex off at the end of the night.
Despite its go-fast pedigree, there is a simpler side to the Type R. Managing to keep the rpms below 3000 and the Type R has a civilized demeanor. The clutch is perfectly balanced for day-to-day operations and the engaging manual requires little effort to change gear. Able to maintain such lifestyle could better your chances at reaching its 22 miles per gallon fuel economy as we came close averaging 21.3 mpg combined.
Owning a Type R isn’t cheap however, these performance tires cost over $300 each and require replacement every 10,000 miles – and that’s just every day wear and tear, expect that to decrease on track days. With its 250 miles tank, fuel ups are required more frequently – so bring an extra gas can to the track. And then there’s those massive brakes that stop faster than “oh shit” can come out of our mouths. However, while maintenance is on the expensive side, body work on the other hand isn’t. Knowing how people drive, Honda made things like the front, side and rear lip spoilers plastic – so when a parking curb rips them off, they’re cheaper to replace. This also makes it cheaper to insure.
Even the interior has race mode engaged with its highly bolstered suede red sport seats and aluminum shifter that naturally burns hands during the winter and summer months. And because it’s a Civic, it upholds all the standard Civic amenities like a useable back seat, a 7-inch touch screen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a backup camera, dual-zone climate control and a customizable TFT instrument cluster display.
People may go on and on and one about its immature styling, that its too dramatic and way over done despite how much downforce the rear spoiler puts to the ground. After 7 days, it didn’t take long for us to stop noticing or caring. It’s driving habits is what we cared about and since we constantly had race mode engaged, we were at the top of every cop cars radar and teenagers wish list.
|Honda Civic Type R Touring Base Price:||$33,900|
|As Tested (including Options & Destination):||$34,775|
|2.0-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder -306-Horsepower, 6-Speed Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±5.0 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 22/28/25 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average: 21.3 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±260 Miles|