Driven: Honda Civic Type R GT Review
I attended the European car launch for the Honda Civic Type R. After testing the car on both track and road, here is what I thought about the car.
What is the Honda Civic Type R GT all About?
It only feels like 10 minutes since Honda launched the previous generation Honda Civic Type R. Now, they are back with an even better car, the FK8.
The Type R will be sold in 2 models; the standard model and the GT. The GT’s extra features include Blind Spot Information and Cross Traffic Monitor, dual-zone climate control and an auto-dimming rear view mirror. It also has Garmin Navigation, wireless phone charging, an 11-speaker audio system and LED front fog lights.
As ever, the new Civic car design has a love it or hate it divide. However, adding some extreme Type R modifications to the car takes things to an entire other level. First up is the hugely aggressive, very angular and aerodynamic-looking front bumper and grille design. There is also the enormous rear wing and the lower rear diffuser. In conjunction with the roof spoiler and vortex creator, this channels air nicely around the car.
All of these design cues have a specific requirement from Honda and actually develop negative lift on the car, helping to improve its stability on the road. A huge amount of development has gone into creating aerodynamic gains, meaning the car is more stable and has more grip at high speeds. Additionally, you will notice vents in the wheel arches and a new bonnet vent, which are there to aid the cooling of the highly tuned engine.
Other noteworthy styling developments on the car include huge 20 inch alloy wheels. These suit the car perfectly and at the back of the car, there are now three exhaust tips that are two different sizes. The exhaust system has been specifically developed so at high RPM the central exhaust tip produces negative pressure. Honda has done this to reduce the booming sound you can get from an exhaust system. Honda says they have tried to maximise the good sound and minimise the bad.
The latest Honda Civic Type R is powered by a 2.0 litre petrol VTEC engine, which uses a mono-scroll turbo to boost both the efficiency and performance of the engine. The car now creates 320 PS and 400 Nm of torque. This power goes through a 6-speed manual gearbox to the front wheels, which means the car can get from 0-60 mph in a shocking 5.7 seconds. It will do a top speed of 169 mph, which is slightly above the outgoing car. The car also features a highly effective front differential and clever electronics. These ensure all the power makes it down to the road well in both straight lines and the corners.
What’s it Like to Drive?
The previous generation was one well-optimised hot hatch and saying goodbye to it is not something the car communities want to see. But the good news is the FK8 car is without a doubt a great improvement. Performance-wise there is now an additional 10 PS of power, three different driving modes, new variable-ratio electric power steering and new rear multi-link suspension setup. All of these new improvements take the car to a whole new level.
With 400 Nm of torque, as soon as you open up the car you notice there is a significant amount available from low down in the rev range. Being turbocharged as well, the car has an electrically managed waste gate that provides lots of noise when dumping boost pressure as you come off the throttle. The release sound adds to the driving experience.
The 320 PS works exceptionally well at pulling the car along. The power delivery feels super eager and responsive. I didn’t find it lacking grunt at any point and from my perspective, the amount of usable power is perfect for this car. In fact, in some ways, it feels almost too powerful for a front wheel drive car but I’m not complaining.
The Civic at speed feels glued to the road. Honda has worked alongside Continental to create a bespoke tyre to maintain optimum grip. The 245/30 R20 tyres work well in a straight line as well as when braking and cornering. There are some further innovations that help improve handling on this car. Honda has developed a clever limited slip differential that works like magic, ensuring each wheel is putting down the right amount of torque to the road to ensure cornering speed can be maximised. The Civic has a very smooth and controlled handling feel and minimises torque steer in ways we have not seen before.
The car now comes with three driving modes; Comfort, Sport, and +R mode. The car starts in Sport mode by default. In Sport mode you will feel the torque mapping to be more aggressive and performance focused. The steering assistance is lightened slightly and the adaptive dampers are stiffened all around. All of this together gives you a much rawer and sportier feel. Taking it up a notch to +R brings the configuration to an even sharper setup, optimised for the track. The car comes with a new Comfort mode that softens everything down, meaning the bumps are significantly more bearable for days when you just want to take it easy with the car – perfect. The old generation Civic Type R could certainly have done with this.
Testing this car on the track and road was a great way to see just how well-rounded the car was. On the road, this is without a doubt one powerful hatch that will take on most things. But on the track, this car is such a highly tuned machine and is very capable for both beginners and more advanced drivers.
The latest generation Civic Type R is very upmarket and premium and is a pleasure to sit in. It has two front sporty seats that hug your sides significantly more than before, ideal for any track day or for really aggressive driving.
Looking at the dashboard, the car has a large touchscreen infotainment system that works exceptionally well. Everywhere you look inside there are lots of sporty red and black touches with nicely designed pieces of aluminium on the gear stick and pedals too.
The driver’s instruments are now fully digital in the car, superseding the previous generation two-tier approach. The digital dashboard works well throughout with a high refresh rate to be able to keep up with your speed or the rev gauge changes etc.
This car is simply one insane piece of machinery. Since when were hot hatches able to do 169 mph and corner like an M3? It is an incredible achievement from the vast amounts of research and development by Honda. The car feels properly fast and energetic to drive and when you stop to think about it, this is coming from a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine. This is one real value for money car. It will chase down anything you point it at and won’t stop until it surrenders.
The development FK8 Civic owns the Nurburgring Nordschleife lap record for the front wheel drive category with a time of 7 m 43.8 s. So this car is genuinely the fastest front wheel drive car you can buy. There simply hasn’t been a poor Honda Civic Type R, so why would they start now? The FK8 Type R is just continued progression from the out going model. Pretty much everything it does is 10% better than the old car and that was a well-polished car to start with, so a further 10% is an incredible innovation. The hot hatch has proper track going credentials with practicalities for the road.
Honda Civic Type R 2017
- Price: £32,995
- Engine: 2.0-Litre VTEC Turbocharged
- Power: 320 SP
- Torque: 400Nm
- Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
- 0-62mph: 5.7 Seconds
- Top speed: 169mph
- Economy: 36.7mpg
- CO2: 176g/km
Author: Paul Hadley