The previous-generation Honda Civic Type R was, so the saying goes, the Porsche 911 GT3 of hot hatchbacks; it was the hardcore choice among family-friendly sports cars.
The new-generation Type R is based on the 11th-generation Civic, whose platform is an ‘optimised’ version of that of the previous car. But the wheelbase is longer by 35mm and the track widened by 15mm, because Honda wanted a wider and lower stance.
The engine is a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit based mostly on the previous car’s, although with a lighter flywheel, increased air intake capacity and a freer-flowing exhaust, among other things.
It now makes 325bhp at 6500rpm and 310lb ft at just 2200rpm (previously 316bhp and 295lb ft).
The previous car needed to be stiff to return the precision Honda wanted; here the inherent rigidity should provide most of that, which should allow for a softer set-up.
I like the standard 11th-generation Civic’s cabin, and this fast version is merely a gently massaged variant of it. Material quality is sound, if not to the levels of premium German cars – which wouldn’t be a problem if this wasn’t nearly priced like them. But there are brilliantly supportive yet comfortable seats, metal pedals, the trademark turned aluminium gearknob and a wholly round steering wheel with Alcantara trim.
The Type R has to it a compliance the old car could only dream of. Yet it doesn’t inhibit the immediacy of responses or, therefore, its appeal as a driver’s car, because, while it’s a more mature experience, it’s still ?a thrilling and engaging one. The old abilities are still here, they’re just wrapped in a more approachable demeanour.