Honda is one of the few brands that has experienced a sales decline in 2021 as buyers flock to newer rivals. But the Civic Type R performance car shows the brand has still got what it takes to be a success.
Here are five things you need to know about the Honda Civic Type R.
This is Honda’s best car
Not because it’s the fastest or most exciting – which it is – but because it absolutely nails its brief. Honda is in a lull at the moment. Most of its models are middle-of-the-road fare as opposed to being class leaders. But the Honda Civic Type R is the enthusiast’s hot hatch benchmark, with poise few cars can match. It’s a better performance car than peers such as Volkswagen’s Golf GTI, and is capable of shaming machines that cost twice as much, whether on the road or track.
Excellence isn’t cheap
This Honda isn’t cheap at $54,990 plus on-road costs – about $61,000 drive-away. That makes it more expensive than most front-wheel-drive performance cars.
But it’s hard to argue the car costs too much as there is a long waiting list to get hold of one – so long that Australia’s existing allocation is effectively spoken for. People are happy to pay a premium for Brembo brakes, a helical limited-slip differential, race-style seats, multi-mode dampers and 20-inch wheels – stuff you might not find on a Hyundai or VW. The Civic’s turbocharged 2.0-litre engine is also a cracker, with strong 228kW/400Nm outputs that outgun key rivals.
‘R’ is for Racing
The latest Type R follows a long list of outstanding machines Honda performance cars, including sharpened versions of the Integra and NSX coupes. Honda proved the Civic’s potential with a world tour of race tracks such as Bathurst, Spa, Suzuka and the Nurburgring, setting production lap records around the globe. It even has a race car-derived data logging system. You can see the Type R racing locally in the TCR series for turbocharged hot hatches, where the Honda is a regular front-runner. The Civic’s bold scoops and spoilers are an acquired taste, but they are there for a reason – this really is a quick car.
But it’s also great on the road
People sometimes ask ‘what is the point of performance cars, if you can only drive at the same speed limit as everyone else?’. In this case, there’s tactile pleasure in the Honda’s delicious manual gearshift, the perfect bite from its brakes, the crisp immediacy of its Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and the fizzy willingness of its engine. The Type R satisfies on every drive – whether you’re nipping to the shops or heading out into the hills. Factor in sensible Continental tyres or suspension with a surprising degree of composure, and the result is a beautifully honed machine you can enjoy every day.
And folks fortunate enough to take it on track will unlock another level of performance.
A new model isn’t far off
Honda has unveiled a replacement for the regular Civic, but not the Type R. We don’t know when – or if – the existing model will be replaced here, as the UK factory that builds the current car is set to close soon. We don’t know much about its potential replacement. But we do know that the outgoing Civic Type R is a modern classic likely to be revered as one of Honda’s best-ever cars.
Why this is Honda’s best car