HardeR, BetteR, FasteR, Type R
- 2009 Honda Civic Type R; 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol; six-speed manual; three-door hatch - $41,990*
- Metallic Paint $475 (Not Fitted - Championship White)
By Matt Brogan
The Type R has since 1997 represented that mischievous side of Civic all too well, but somehow it seems only those cult-like disciples truly au fait with the brand are the only ones to ever really understand its appeal.
Fact is that Hondas brandished with the 'R' moniker don't earn their colours easily. They must be deemed worthy by the powers at be prior to being adorned with that racing red Honda badge - and rightly so.
So is the latest revision of the Civic Type R deserved of such high title?
With post modern looks not dissimilar to Mork's egg pod, the Civic Type R brings a fast-paced, futuristic appeal to the road well that embiggins the spirit of the iconic 1988 Honda Civic CRX, right down to the horizontally split rear window, and best of all does so within a price range not out of reach from us mere mortals.
Although I'd previously expressed my liking for the Civic hatches' good looks in my Civic Si Review, I feel the three-door is bang on the money when it comes to styling, and in omitting the rear doors, Honda has lent the Type R those all important sporting credentials that help associate the buyer with the crisp, hyperactive aesthetics important to a hot hatch purchase.
Inside too it's evident that the designers have worked hard to create a future feel for the Type R's cockpit and although some may find it a little overdone visually, from an ergonomic standpoint the dash and nearby surrounds all make complete sense with just about every necessary control within a finger's reach.
The figure hugging Recaro seats fit like a glove and make their way cleanly forward to allow comfortable access to and from the rear seats. Looking back over your shoulder though 'c' pillar visibility is a little bit of an issue when reversing from 45-degree angle parks.
Under the bonnet Honda's 2.0-litre iVTEC four-cylinder engine is a free revving unit boasting quick reflexes that are almost as responsive as Type R's chassis.
It does however lack a little torque in its lower reaches, and when driven in city traffic this is a little noticeable, but thankfully this one small issue is more than compensated for above half-tach when Type R's other personality, the one with a howling 148kW, comes to life.
The results are an aurally exciting and with playful drive to the front wheels made all the more fun by a close ratio six-speed manual gearbox and dominating limited slip diff. The engine's power is well utilised and sees Type R make a meal of just about any stretch of snake like country road.
Feedback to the driver is almost as impressive as the car itself with positive clutch feedback, a sweet short throw gear lever and near-perfect brake pedal feel all contributing a true sense of oneness with the car that grows quickly to see enjoyment maximised after only a few short days.
The electronic steering is completely complimentary to chassis and with just over two turns lock-to-lock makes feeding the Type R down a winding mountain road a grin inspiring experience that makes you want to turn around and go back to do it again.
The ride on offer is, as you might appreciate, a little on the firm side, but if you're the type of buyer that would find this an issue, then perhaps Civic Sport might be a little more your thing.
To me though this firm ride, and its undisputed handling benefits, make the Type R such an impressive category competitor that anyone thinking about buying such a car would be foolish to dismiss Honda's offerings based on figures alone - the drive more than makes up for it.
If you think you could deal with a Type R but are worried about the practicality side of things then fear not for the three-door hatch retains an impressive 415 litre cargo capacity that can be expanded almost three-fold to 1282 litres thanks to 60:40 split fold rear seats. The back seat also has a nifty undershelf beneath the seat pad (much like the Honda Jazz) if additional room is required.
Safety gear comes courtesy of six airbags, ESC with Traction Control and ABS braking with EBA and EBD to afford the Type R a four-star ANCAP rating.
Now sure the Type R isn't the sort of car that's for everyone, and more's the point it's not the sort of car that everyone will understand, but if you truly enjoy your driving, and appreciate that a car can be about more than high kilowatts and bolt on performance, then you might just be a little taken by the Civic Type R - I know I am.
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