Driven - February 2018

Has the new Honda Civic Type R sold out?

We drive the “softer” new flagship variant in the Honda Civic stable.

Prrrrrrrrrah (whoosh) prrrraaaaah goes the first ever turbocharged Honda Civic Type R, a car we loved driving-despite us getting it so late in SA not too long ago. This car was basically the love child of VTEC obsessed drivers and the boost crazy car fraternity. “VTEC and turbo? Na fam, it’s too good to be true”, said JDM lovers. It wasn’t. That Type R was lit. We drove it on the track in Cape Town, we drove it on the road in Johannesburg and we raced it against a Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport as you can see here:

As you can see, this car was the track champion, with a chassis setup so sweet, we had toothache for weeks after driving it (laugh, it’s funny). All good then? Not exactly. See, often times when a car is excellent on track it’s generally not so good on the road. This is something the first turbocharged Honda Civic Type R suffered from, bad road manners. It hopped, it hurt your back and in “R mode” it felt like being inside a Metrorail. Did we care? Not so much, because we’re petrol heads – that’s what chiropractors are for. Besides as journos we only drive the car for a week. What about those who owned these cars? They must’ve had the same complaints we had. We’re sure they did, because the new Civic Type R feels like night and day compared to the old one. Does this mean it’s sold out though? Traded comfort for hardcore driving feel?

Sell out or nah?

In short, no. We just put that title out there so you can read our review. Seeing that you’re here, you may as well hear us out. To cut a long story short, the new Honda Civic Type R looks different, feels different but has the same engine as the old car. On the outside, it still unashamedly looks like something that’s climbed straight out of Ultra. A large rear wing, three exhaust pipes and jagged edges tell the world that you’re ready to party. Surprisingly, driving the car on the road in normal mode is pretty…normal. You can hold a conversation; the seats are comfortable and the chassis feels like a normal Civic. Even in sport mode, the car is not back breaking at all. The rear legroom is plentiful, the boot is huge and the exhaust is not loud. A bit too quiet to be honest. Dezzi Raceway was where we had a chance to experience the car’s abilities and in “R mode” the car is still the same old beast it was. The only difference now is that it’s easier to drive. The chassis is still very pliable and you can point the nose where you want it, but you don’t work as hard as you used to in the old Civic Type R, with little compromise to the fun you’re having. An “auto blip” function has been added during downshifting, so there’s no need to “heel and toe”, which I personally enjoy doing but some may not have gotten the hang of it. The new car is also lighter, so even though it still produces 228kW, it covers ground very quickly. A smart suspension setup means that you don’t have a lot of torque steer as well, despite all the power going to the front tyres and the rubber on the car is sticky enough to point and squirt the car where you want it.

So, what’s the verdict?

This new Honda Civic Type R is honestly one the best hot hatch experiences out there at the moment. It’s also unique in that it’s one of the few manual cars you can get in this segment. The first one battled in terms of everyday appeal but this one is a huge improvement, if you don’t mind the stares. If you like the attention, you’ll love it. Besides, that rear wing can make for a perfect spot to put your coffee in the mornings, when waiting for your kids to climb in for the school run. It’s that versatile. No wonder why the car has won so many awards, it’s that good. Is it better than a Golf 7 R however? Stay tuned to find out.

Honda Civic Type R Pricing in South Africa

The base price for the Civic Type R is R627 900 and includes a 5 year/200000 km Warranty, a 5 year/90000 km service plan and roadside assistance for 3 years.