YOU need a thick skin to drive a Honda Civic Type R.
I should know. I’ve been running one as my daily driver for the past few weeks.
The reason you need a thick skin is the Type R is a magnet for unwanted attention.
Aggressive engine-revving at the lights by blokes named Barry. Nerve-wracking glares from the rozzers. Disapproving tuts from mums at school.
It might be the whale-tail looming over the back end like the mainsail of the Santa Maria, or the triple-pipe exhaust protruding like anti aircraft canons, but there’s no escaping it — the Type R is a boy racer’s wet dream.
I’ve been known to roll my eyes at the sight of the modern Type R.
I’ve always been in the camp that believes it looks like a 14-year-old was asked to draw his dream car after wandering round Halfords.
On the day I collected it, I admit I went a little red in the face when I caught people looking. But that lasted for all of about ten minutes, because this car is absolutely sensational, and now I’ve driven it regularly I wouldn’t be embarrassed if it was bright pink with the words “I’M A PRETTY LITTLE GIRL” graffitied down its side.
It’s rare to find a car which drives as sweetly as the Type R. From the feel of the perfectly weighted steering, to the satisfying notch of the closely stacked gearbox, everything works just right.
Let’s talk more about that gearbox. Unlike rivals such as the Golf R and Mercedes-AMG A 35 (both more powerful and both AWD) Honda has kept purists sweet with a six-speed manual.
But it comes with a rev-matching function as standard, which blips the throttle as you downshift. This means you can barrel nose-first into a bend in fourth or fifth, then hook straight down to second as you scrub off speed with the
Brembos without unsettling the engine. It works seamlessly and makes you look a much more competent driver than you actually are. The engine is equally impressive. The 2-litre VTEC is mated to a turbo which comes alive around 2,500 revs and seems to pull all the way to redline.
It feels quicker than Honda’s official 0-62mph sprint time of 5.8 seconds, it accelerates with a graceful fury, with torque steer kept to a minimum thanks to a limited-slip differential on the front.
So far so good for the Honda hot hatch, but the point of this review is to evaluate what it’s like to live with. While I expected to find it too taught and raw to drive every day, it’s actually a fine daily ride.
The engine is so versatile you can be incredibly lazy with your left arm — third gear is good enough to pull away from a crawl, but will also take you to 70mph without screaming like a billygoat.
The car fires up in Sport mode as default, with the option of a +R Mode above it (read: track mode), but also has a Comfort setting which relaxes what’s going on underneath and takes the brutal edge off the throttle map.
And, hey presto, you’ve got a car which will do low speed, around-town driving, as well as anything made by Ford or BMW.
It was with an extremely heavy heart that I handed back the Type R this week, I will miss it dearly.
I fell so in love with it, that even the styling grew on me. They can sneer and call you a boy racer all they want, but if you own a Type R, your car is probably a lot better than theirs.
And it’s built in Britain.
HONDA CIVIC TYPE R
Engine: 2-litre turbo petrol
0-62mph: 5.8 secs
Top speed: 169mph