Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
If its looks haven’t persuaded you, be in no doubt that the Honda Civic Type R is a car seriously intent on the pursuit of speed. Sure, its performance off the line (0-62mph takes 5.8sec) isn’t a match for its more tractable, four-wheel-drive rivals like the Mercedes-AMG A35 and Toyota GR Yaris. But the front-wheel-drive Type R feels nothing short of blisteringly rapid once it’s up and running, accelerating through the gears noticeably faster than rivals such as the Ford Focus ST , Renault Megane RS and VW Golf GTI.
And the Type R’s 2.0-litre 316bhp engine just loves to rev, zinging around to 7000rpm with well-oiled fluidity. Plus, there’s plenty of useful grunt available at lower revs, so it’ll pull handsomely from 50mph in sixth but, equally, you’ll discover real pleasure flicking from gear to gear. Its super-slick, six-speed gearbox has one of the nicest manual shifts of any car on sale today.
One of the biggest thrills of a Type R experience is the car’s cornering prowess. This is, quite simply, one of the best-balanced and grippiest of any hot hatch you can buy. And despite lacking four-wheel drive, it can pretty much match the corning speed of the GR Yaris and, around a track, it demolishes the lap times of rivals like the Focus ST and Golf GTI.
Part of the reason behind this is the Type R’s limited-slip differential (LSD). It does a fantastic job of distributing power to whichever wheel can cope with it best, dragging you out of turns with hugely impressive speed and stability. Some rivals with LSDs can be too aggressive. The Megane RS, for example, jinks left and right under power, making it hard to stick to your chosen line, but that’s not the case in the Type R.
The steering is also impossible to fault for accuracy. The only slight niggle is it’s rather heavy when you’ve got the driving mode in Sport or +R. That’s not a problem on a track, but it can get a little tiring for everyday driving. Ultimately, the lighter weighting in the Comfort drive mode is best for the road, so it's a shame you cannot mix and match the various settings for engine response, steering weight and the adaptive suspension’s stiffness.
You see, Sport mode produces the best suspension damping for a typical B-road blast, blending bump absorption and body control brilliantly. In the slacker Comfort mode, there’s a touch more body lean, which the most aggressive +R mode irons out to the extreme, yet then it’s a bit too firm for anything other than the smoothest road. +R is best left for attacking Silverstone on a track day, which, by the way, is something that’s well worth experiencing in such a rewarding and finely honed car.