The Honda Civic Type R GT
A few weeks back Ferrous got an email from the guys at Honda, an email that left us schoolboy level excited. Honda were going to be good enough to lend us a top of the line, Rallye Red Civic Type R GT to test drive. Seeing as this is Ferrous' first test drive being told that we're going to be allowed to mess around with a big red car with a spoiler and over 300 horsepower is understandably exciting. Once we'd got over the initial dicking about we were able to calm down enough to produce an article, you know, like the highly-strung professionals we are. This is Breaking The Camshaft.
Unavoidably the first thing anyone can notice about the Type R is the way it looks. It looks like it was born and bred on the race track, spent its youth fighting the other cars for survival, only when it was older was it civilised enough to be driven on the road as well. The front end is angry, with slim, angular headlamps giving it the appearance of something you don't want to be on the wrong side of. All the scoops, intakes and splitters are functional and serve to improve performance, no fake bits of plastic to fool anyone.
The angry, track-born appearance continues throughout the car, especially prominent round the rear. As the Type R inevitably overtakes you you'll be greeted with the giant f*ck off spoiler and the bright red Honda badge, denoting the car's heritage. As it shoots away from you it'll growl off into the distance from the angry triple exhaust at the bottom centre, prominent between the rear diffusers.
Once inside the Civic you'd be hard-pressed to say you weren't in a spaceship. The dash and instrument display are suitably futuristic and in keeping with the exterior, with plenty of Type R red thrown in. Anyone who knows Civic Type Rs will immediately go looking for the big red button that says 'R+' on it. Perhaps even more exciting on this 2017 model is that this has been replaced with a helicopter-style switch with three available modes, R+ being at the top end of the selection.
Honda have also happily fitted this model with the now classic bright red racing seats, which as a side note are fantastically comfortable. In terms of practicality there's also loads of room inside, showing that at one point it was just a family hatchback. We're not the shortest people in the world and we could sit comfortably in the back with leg room to spare and the boot is more than big enough to accommodate whatever weirdness you might want to carry.
As soon as you press the button start the first thing you notice is the low rumble from the exhaust. This is something we came to really like, it lets you know it's a performance car without being loud enough to piss off the neighbours. Once we got it out onto open roads the Civic continued to impress, it accelerates stupidly quickly with its 2L VTEC turbo. Driven without care it could be a real licence-loser but I think you'd have so much fun in the process you'd be less likely to care. Comfortingly there are brakes to match the acceleration, with reassuringly responsive Brembo callipers.
Driving it round the twisty, typically English narrow roads around the Ferrous HQ the Civic holds up just as well. We were initially a little nervous about this given the apparent wide profile of the car but once you actually go and do it you realise that's little more than a trick of the eye. The suspension is firm and stable when you throw it round a corner at speed but still absorbent-enough to manage Worcestershire's pot-holed country lanes.
We decided to play around with the differing driving modes as supposedly they adjust, primarily, throttle response and suspension. In the process we found that Honda have managed to do something almost magical with the suspension in particular and the driving modes provide you with all the choice in performance you could want. In comfort the Civic Type R can be an ideal commuting car, with a comfortable ride and enough performance on tap to make the odd overtake. Sport is a little step up from this as you'd imagine with a harder ride and the power available a little faster and R+ is as unchained as the Type R gets.
This means that, save for the way it looks, by buying a Type R you've essentially bought a normal Civic as well as a whole other car that's just the kind of beast you want for a bit of fun. The steering is precise and easy, making the power easy to direct and not once did it lose grip. Complimenting this is the smooth manual gearbox with its limited slip differential, all further-aiding power management, as the Civic, unlike its sporty competitors, is still proudly front wheel drive. However it doesn't have the torque-steer drawbacks you'd expect.
In the process of falling for this car though we did develop a few niggles. The dash is beautifully designed but a little over-complicated, the same goes for the infotainment system which is a little slow. Some of this is mitigated by the inclusion of Apple car play however, making usage much easier for Apple users. As well as this the metal gear knob is really nice to use until it gets cold, when it begins to sap the heat from your hand. In terms of performance the only issue we found is a fairly obvious one in that there is a degree of turbo lag, but once the revs are high enough you forget about it pretty quickly.
All in all the Honda Civic Type R is everything we'd hoped it to be. It's a superb piece of design and engineering allowing you to have a family car and a track car all in one without compromising too much on either. It's definitely not a wolf in sheep's clothing, it's a serious car at heart and doesn't hide it but honestly you don't mind so much since it more than lives up to the way it looks when you throw it around. While the Type R is most certainly a track car when it needs to be it can be very tame, which for someone looking for a race car through and through could be frustrating but we really enjoyed the contrast.
So would Ferrous consider a Civic Type R? Yes, absolutely. Honda have outdone themselves with this, it's infinitely adaptable being both practical and genuinely fun to drive on British roads. Furthermore it's easy on your wallet and the polar bears, definitely by sports car standards anyway, with an on-the-road price tag of just £33,525, 38mpg is easily achievable. We had it for a week and definitely didn't drive it economically and we still had at least half a tank left. What's more it's loaded with the latest driving assist tech, without it being too invasive. Thanks to Honda for letting us play around with this and getting to know the Honda Civic Type R.