2008 Honda Civic Type R review & road test
"It's wise to forget about the lack of torque, and concentrate on the whole drive experience. It's only then that the Civic Type R makes sense."
Sound, Dynamics, Gearshift, Driving position, Practicality
Lack of torque, Confused marketing messages
Photography by - www.ozcarsightings.com
According to Honda, there are only a few cars which are worthy to receive the red H badge. They are known as the Type R cars.
The Type R philosophy is one of purity. That a car must be as good as it can be, and fulfill certain characteristics. To wit: "The Type R philosophy is not about building the most powerful, or fastest car in the world. It is about creating a car that provides a well-engineered, but exciting driving experience."
You'd hope that an exciting driving experience came from good engineering, though, wouldn't you? That aside, a Type R car is earmarked by the omission of add-ons. Things that detract from driver involvement. Apparently forced induction is one of these.
So don't be disappointed when we tell you that this 2.0-litre engine "only" puts out 148kW. Oh yes, at a stratospheric 7800rpm.
You see, if you like the low-blow turbo go, you'll think it's slow.
For instance, the better half and two friends made a trip out to the local exhibition centre for a food & wine fair. Three people in the car were six foot, or over, and the fourth just under, and we all fitted.
Plus, the boot was filled to the brim with, you guessed it - food and wine. Sure, it's only got two doors, but the rear seats are reasonable easy to access, and the whole interior is more useable than at first glance. Straight away, compared to other hot-hatches, the Type R is scoring points.
It's not the quickest thing in a straight line. 6.6-seconds from 0-100km/h isn't exactly slow, but it's also bettered by competitive product. Thing is though, that the competitive product doesn't compete on the noise the Type R makes.
The Civic Type R also comes with a beautfully slick gearbox, having short throws, and a clutch that feeds in perfectly. The brakes? They're killer, too.
Really, it's only happy when you're thrashing it. There's also a fine line between being quick around a corner, and powering on too much and understeering through it, especially around the magical 5400rpm mark. So, drive this car one gear up from any other car you've driven.
So what's the issue here? Well, the Type R philosophy is one of no added extras. A pure drive experience. But how do you define pure? Usually it's the most direct, connected feeling you can have with a car. You have to question, then, why drive-by-wire throttle, and electric steering was employed.
Don't get me wrong, I like luxuries. Supportive seats, tyre-roar which is supressed, and other niceties. When you combine luxury and quick, then I'm a happy man - just read through our BMW 135i review.
But it's just missing that little bit of torque that would stop you having to absolutely blast through the gears, and being able to relax a little. As a whole and as an engaging drive, this is a great car. It's fun, and practical to boot.
The real problem is it's basically got two modes - completely on, or completely off. And it's that in-between stage that most drivers are after, myself included. Not everyone wants to step out of the car with their ears ringing, and heart racing. Highly strung comes to mind.
It looks like a space-ship, handles like a dream, and sounds ballistic. A Type R car that is worthy of its badge? You decide.
2008 Honda Civic Type R
CarAdvice Overall Rating:
How does it Drive:
How does it Look:
How does it Go:
- Engine: 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder, with i-VTEC
- Power: 148kW @ 7800rpm
- Torque: 193Nm @ 5600rpm
- Transmission: Six-Speed Manual
- Top Speed: 235km/h
- 0-100km/h: 6.6 seconds
- Fuel Consumption: 9.3 litres / 100km (Combined)
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
- Fuel Type: 95RON Unleaded Petrol
- Airbags: Front, Side & Curtain
- Safety: ABS, VSA, EBA, EBD
- Tyres: 225/40/18
- Weight: 1345kg
- Wheels: 18-inch