What's the used Honda Civic Type R hatchback like?
Chances are you’ll already know what you think about the Honda Civic Type R. It’s not the kind of car you can sit on the fence about – not at least as far as its styling is concerned.
But beneath those wild looks, the Civic Type R has more than enough bite to match its bark. It’s powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine kicking out 316bhp – a figure that would have been unimaginable in a hot hatch just a few years ago, yet one that today pitches the Civic Type R against cars such as the Ford Focus RS, Volkswagen Golf R and BMW M140i.
There are two versions on offer. The standard car is pretty well equipped, with adaptive suspension, climate control, LED headlights and a 7.0in touchscreen; however, most of the Civic Type Rs you’ll find for sale in the classifieds are the more generously equipped GT version, with its dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors and upgraded stereo.
As you might expect from a car with this much power, the Civic Type R has the sort of grunt you might more readily associate with a stabbed rat, the clappers or any other accelerative simile you’d care to mention. Put your foot down and the muscle is both immediate and immense, yet the car doesn’t give up its charms early. Hold it in gear and it’ll charge on into the upper reaches of the rev range, before you snick sweetly through the gearbox for the next ratio and repeat the whole joyous process.
There’s a terrific engine note, too, that ranges from a warm throb at lower revs to a racer-esque warble at the top end, and it's delightfully free of the sort of overblown crackles you’ll find on some other hot hatches.
But the Civic Type R isn’t just terrific in a straight line. It gobbles down each corner you throw at it, using the terrific traction bestowed on it by its limited-slip differential to chomp its way through the apex and hurl you out of the other side. But while there’s some faint tugging through the steering – a corollary of running so much power through the front wheels – the steering’s feel and precision, and the chassis’ balance, also mean the car’s rabidity is combined with a poise that allows you to place it just where you want it. This allows you to dig into the Civic Type R's vast reserves of power and lean on its seemingly endless grip more and more with steadfast confidence, eventually flinging yourself round corners ferociously and clinging onto every rev on the way out, with an enormous grin writ large across your face.
Inside, the standard Civic’s interior has been jazzed up with flashes of red, making it feel very racy, but the most notable change is the pair of bucket front seats, upholstered in bright red fabric, that provide lots of support and comfort. Like all Civics, the Type R feels solidly built and snug, but the effect is spoiled by an infotainment system that’s slow, awkward to use and dated to look at.
The back seats are a plainer black colour, enlivened by red seatbelts, but they still offer plenty of room for children and adults alike, and more than you’ll find in most hot hatches. The boot, meanwhile, is one of the biggest in the class.