The Type-R is finally in South Africa and I had a go in it on road and track in Cape Town recently. There are so many talking points with this car, from the styling, to the fact that it is turbocharged and most importantly how it stacks up to the serious level of competition that it faces.
Let’s start with the styling, I absolutely love what Honda has done, in a world where the more conservative styling seems to win-out in the sales chart, the bonkers Type-R stands out. There is a massive rear wing, red pin-striped wheels finished in black, bits of aero kit everywhere and a positively sinister front end.
Move on to the interior and there are boy racer-red bucket seats embellished with the ‘Type-R’ logo along with a display in the instrument cluster that allows you to see what you’re boosting, your laps times, oil temperature and G-meter among other things.
The overall quality of the interior is typical Civic, perhaps not segment leading but very much acceptable. There is also a lot of kit with items like:
The new Type-R is of course turbocharged, a massive step forward for the company who, as I discovered are still very much rooted in the ways of VTEC and VTC. You see, with the turbocharger there is no need for VTEC in the higher echelons of the rev-range however Honda has attempted to overcome the turbo lag associated with the single-scroll turbocharger by utilising the Variable Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC) in conjunction with the Dual-Variable Timing Control (VTC) in the lower rev range. That makes for a smoother power and torque curve, making the 228kW/400Nm more accessible.
I must say that there was still a bit of lag evident, especially coming out of slower corners on the track. Other than that the vehicle goes well, the engine is strong and it makes a good sound, with a refreshing wastegate ‘whoosh’ on up-shifts.
What’s it like to dRive?
On the track the Civic Type-R is definitely the best front-wheel drive hot hatch currently on sale in South Africa. I own a Mégane III RS and I have to concede the Honda’s ability. From the grip, to the feel and adjustability, it just feels like it was made for track work. Couple that with a short 40mm gearshift throw, the razor sharp responses in the ‘R’ mode which sharpens up everything and you have something that those who love driving for the sake of it will adore.
What about the competition?
The pricing of the Type-R is where the problem comes in; at R586 400 it is more expensive than the popular Volkswagen Golf R, the Renault Mégane 275 Trophy and the BMW M135i. Let’s not forget that the all-wheel drive Ford Focus RS is also on its way here for fairly similar money. The Type-R will be brought in limited numbers in any case so the price should not be a problem. For those buying one, you’re in for a treat.
WaRRanty and seRvice
The Type-R models come with a new five-year/200 000 km warranty as well as a five-year/90 000 km service plan.