2018 Honda Civic Type R Launch Review
Honda launched their new Type R after an absence of 5 years.
Honda’s Australian CEO, Hiroyuki Shimizu, said he has high hopes for his favourite Honda. 350 people have already placed orders, sight unseen. In New South Wales, they will pay around $56,000 DRIVE AWAY (for RRP see below).
The event took us through some beautiful Tasmanian countryside on part of the famous Targa rally course.
No Type R launch would be complete without a few rounds on a race track.
Baskerville track has tight corners, with rapid changes of elevation, and a straight allowing a car to stretch its legs.
The Civic Hatch hasn’t just had a spectacular 228kw/400Nm Vtec Turbo engine implanted, it has had care and attention lavished on it.
It starts with the all-important red Honda racing badge.
The body had been tweaked with garnishes, that are operative as well as appealing visually.
I love the red highlights here and there.
A bonnet scoop funnels air over the rear of the engine to aid temperature control and aerodynamics. There are channels down through the front fenders as well.
Also aiding cooling are sodium-filled valves. The turbo unit is part of the cooling system itself.
Air is directed from the front bumper through to the brakes, which remain operational under extreme use.
The big rear spoiler is set so as not to obscure rear view, with a black middle section that does not distract a busy driver.
The under side of the car has been aerodynamically smoothed out too.
Downforce kicks in at around 100kph, so it is not just for decoration.
The top surface of the rear hatch has small lugs to create vortexes in a way that aids the function of the spoiler.
While around the back, the triple tail pipes are all functional too, but no Honda would be complete without additional engineering. The smaller centre pipe functions normally under hard acceleration, be reverses flow while cruising.
This reduces the noise on a long highway stint. Droning exhausts can be annoying after many hours in the saddle.
20” alloys look spectacular, and provide ferocious with Continental Sportcontact6 245/30 ZR20 tyres all round.
Carbon fibre effect splitter directs air to keep the front end pinned down.
The interior sees a great pair of red racing seats up front. They’re firm with bolsters to stop lateral passenger movement in cornering. We did a 350km road trip, and can report they seats were both comfortable, and supportive.
Race inspired instruments include a G-force monitor, lap timer, boost meter, shift indicator, throttle position indication, plus more.
Apple Carplay/Android Auto complete driver connectivity.
I was surprised to see an electric parking brake, instead of a proper handle.
Type R hasn’t sacrificed any of the inclusions. Type R gets all driver tech available in other Civic hatches, such as blind spot warning etc.
The infotainment is as easy to operate as any other Civic, and is as quiet and as smooth as any other Honda, it just goes quicker.
The centre console houses the 6 speed manual, a numbered Type R plaque, and a variable drive mode control.
Honda’s new “halo” car is spectacular on the road.
Honda compares Type R to the AWD Focus RS.
Incredible technology, and a clever helical LSD helps keep the vast power reserves from simply spinning the wheels, especially at take-off.
The Type R was developed by Japanese drivers for the racetrack. Honda set a world record at the famous Nürburgring in Germany with a time of 7 minutes 4.38seconds for a lap. Sabine would be proud!
Here’s me in the Type R at Tasmania’s Baskerville circuit.
Normally, the word Nürburgring means a ride that has been utterly ruined, but no. The variable ride control has a comfort mode. The steering and suspension become all soft and, dare I say, luxurious.
Sport mode is the default on start, and gives a nice feel to the steering.
MacPherson with Dual Axis Struts (front), and Multi-link (rear), have excellent ride, even in plus R mode on the track.
The controls variously change the traction control to allow an expert driver the leeway needed for spirited driving.
A short-throw manual gear selector has enough feel to easily be flicked from gear to gear. A light clutch has progressive, yet gentle, up-take.
The system also rev-matches both up, and down changes. You can turn it off, but why would you ever want to.
The system senses a change as the clutch is depressed, and blips the throttle making the change incredibly easy to facilitate.
In fact, the rev-matching makes the change feel like a pre-select system, and is a pleasure to use.
On the track:
All boys racers want track time.
Type R is made for the track, and although is very happy on the open road, the track is home.
Rev limiting prevents a driver from destroying the engine (thankfully) and big 350mm front brakes are effective with no fade detectable.
The Euro 5 2.0L turbo has am 8.8L/100km economy on the road, but don’t expect that on the track.
5.7seconds 0-100 is a little slower than Focus RS, but cornering, and ride feel superior.
We tried the drive in all 3 drive modes, and although Comfort Mode provides sensible city travel, it makes a decent fist of a track.
In fact, I forgot to switch it from mode to mode initially. A top speed of 257kph is enough to be going on with.
Switching direction is near-psychic. Subtle directional changes are as easy as quick corners. Baskerville has a nice long straight with a gentle downhill run.
I got to 180kph before braking to corner left and uphill.
Traction control was left on.
Why? Because I don’t have a death wish.
I like to find good and bad points in all reviews, but Type R is all good news.
The price is up there with Subaru’s STI, Golf R, and Focus RS. I like all these cars, and all of them have AWD, so how can Type R compete? Well, it does, and that’s all there is to it.
I can hear the howls as I type, but those howls will all be from people who have no driven the Type R.
Whilst I feel a certain pull towards the STI, Type R feels well resolved as a package.
Rev matching has changed my life!
I like the look, especially the rear. I like the boy-racer-ness of the vortex lugs above the hatch. I love the body kit and spoiler. I love the free spinning engine and the playful handling.
But, most of all, I love the ride.
This is a car any driver can use in the city, which is where we will do most of our driving.
The is enough room for a couple of passengers in the back, and for the bits and bobs that come with them.
You could go for a relaxing weekend away, and nip off to the track while you’re there.
Type R is a true Jekyll and Hyde car where both personalities are the type you’d be happy to take home to mum.
Trans: 6 speed manual with rev matching
Fuel: 95ron, 8.8L/100km