There is no mistaking the new Honda Civic Type-R GT, with looks more akin to a race car than a road car. A road car it is however, and one with stunning performance. In fact, a time-attack attempt at the famous Nurburgring achieved a 7min 43.8sec lap, the fastest ever by a front wheel drive car. So I was particularly looking forward to this Honda- and my chance came at the SMMT Test Day North. The heart of the matter is a two litre VTEC engine with a potent 320PS. Rest to 100kph takes just under six seconds and it goes on to a top speed of 272kph, a car definitely best described as a fast lane contender.
The lap time was achieved during the final phase of the model’s testing regime, on a dry track with an optimum ambient temperature for the best tyre and power train performance. The new time represented an improvement of nearly seven seconds compared to the model’s predecessor. Several factors contributed to the new benchmark lap time, the optimised and refined engine with 400 Nm of torque, new lower gear ratios in the six-speed manual transmission further improved the car’s acceleration, while the new model’s comprehensive aerodynamic package delivered outstanding high-speed stability, with a best-in-class balance between lift and drag.
After having spent some considerable time with this new Honda offering, I can state, it’s not one for the faint hearted! More spacious than the previous model, so do you not only get performance but also practicality. Moving from the sharp, angular exterior profile to the interior, which is modern, sleek and unfussy with striking red accents. It does transmit a premium quality with anew LCD instrument binnacle layout and versatile two-tier ‘technology centre’ console
Those who may be members of the Type-R club will immediately recognise that the interior treatment is always unmistakable, and in fact can be traced back 25 years to the very first Honda with the iconic red badge. The all-new Type R certainly builds on the sophisticated, premium ambience of the standard car’s cabin with striking suede-effect red and black fabric trim for the new high-backed sports seats. The seats which really grip incorporate revised bolsters and cushion pads, offering superlative support for sports driving, and are the lightest Type R specification seats ever. Returning to the everyday use of such a car and to the practical aspect of this head turner, boot space is a generous at 420 litres, (with seats down 786 litres) and the compartment features an innovative side-sliding and removable compact tonneau cover, ensuring that this Honda retains its position as the most practical and versatile of high-performance hatchbacks. Easy access is ensured by rear seats that split / fold 60:40, with a low sill height (680mm) and wide boot opening (1,120mm) combined with the flat boot floor to make the loading of heavy, wide and long items easy. So you have a car which I can state has two personalities, performance and practicality. It’s critical of course, that all onboard can travel in safety, so stopping power is of vital performance. A comprehensive system is part of the package including ABS, brake assist, city brake active system, EBD, hill start assist and vehicle stability assist with agile handling assist. There is a full compliment of airbags, pedestrian protection, forward collision warning, cruise control with cut-in prediction, lane departure warning, a lane keep assist system and traffic sign recognition. What a history, the Type R name first appeared in 1992, with the debut of the first-generation NSX Type R.
Did you know, the familiar colour combination was a tribute to Honda’s Formula 1 heritage, reflecting the racing colours that appeared on the Honda RA271 and RA272 single-seaters. The former was the first ever Japanese car to race in Formula 1, while the latter was the first from the country to win a Grand Prix, taking the chequered flag in Mexico in 1965. Both cars were painted white with a red ‘sun mark’ inspired by Japan’s national flag and which set the iconic trend for future Type R variants. I for one, certainly enjoyed my time behind the wheel of this very special Honda and when I switched off the power and climbed out of the hip hugging seats I had a satisfying smile- just to myself.