2017 Honda Civic Type R
Honda continues its steady march back to building brilliant cars
Words by: Adam Allen
Are you implying that Honda builds boring cars?
Not at all. The Accord has always been perennially fantastic, the Fit is a marvel of packaging and a blast to drive, and the Ridgeline has rewritten the rules about what a truck should be for the masses. Looking to the past, the Civics of the 1990’s were undeniably excellent, the CRX is still missed by many and mention the Prelude and enthusiast eyes fill with a longingly wistful look. It’s never been in dispute that Honda is capable of building thoroughly incredible machinery. That said, there have been uncharacteristic missteps from the company over the last 15 or so years. Styling, which was once a brand strength, has been criticized as bland- just ask the 8th generation Civic which lasted a scant few model years before Honda hastily went back to the drawing board. The aforementioned CRX, Prelude and the sublime S2000 roadster have all been relegated to the annals of history. More recently, Honda’s maddening infotainment 2-screen infotainment system has drawn its share of flack for being unintuitive and slow, not to mention the lack of a simple volume knob (a problem that has since been rectified by the new CR-V.) Emerging stars like the current Civic lineup, the new Accord sedan and the supercar slaying NSX illustrate that the steady march back to the glory days is firmly underway, and the Type R you see here is the clearest reminder yet of the magic that happens when Honda flexes its prodigious engineering muscle.
I miss the stratospheric redline the Type R’s used to have.
Yeah, so do we. There are few more rewarding experiences in the automotive universe than winding one of Honda’s engines out into the VTEC threshold and then relishing in the spine-tingling noises and accelerative rush that follows as the tach needle swings to dizzying heights. But as fun as that was, it created a problem- those engines had a serious dearth of low end torque which meant that pulling away from the line with anything other than a 5,000 rpm clutch drop meant that acceleration went from brisk to tepid. The Type R’s 2.0 litre turbo solves that issue and then some. Making 306 horsepower and 295 pounds feet of torque, it punts the car forward with startling alacrity, enough to yield a 0-100km/h time of under five seconds. The aural signature emitting from the triple exhausts out back has been described as middling, and compared to the buzz saw shriek on Honda engines past, it is. Still, we were plenty happy with the sounds it makes, mingling nicely with a healthy dollop of turbo hiss and wastegate whoosh. If there’s any gripes, it is that we wish for it to be louder. The aftermarket will handily address this, but we think more noise wouldn’t be inappropriate for this car.
You must’ve enjoyed driving it.
That might be a slight understatement- we couldn’t seem to get enough seat time in the Type R. There’s much to blather on endlessly about, but there are a few key components to what makes the overall experience driving one of these things so memorable. First, there’s the grip this thing has. It’s simply unflappable in any situation, even though we lacked the proper venue to really probe the sky-high limits of the chassis. You’ll never tire of storming on-ramps or scouring Google Maps for the squiggliest roads you can find. Filed under the “How’d they do that?” column is the suspension’s compliance despite the unrelenting refusal to understeer (and the super low profile 20” rolling stock.) Even when you select the +R Drive mode you can’t help but be amazed that this car doesn’t endlessly and uncomfortably jostle you and your passengers around. This makes the Type R entirely livable in any situation, and on any kind of tarmac. Rounding out the tasty hardware that make the Type R so compelling are excellent, fade free brakes, a gearbox that is so good you find yourself looking for excuses to run up and down through the gears and seats that look as unyielding as the buckets you find in the Ford Focus RS but turn out to be both startlingly comfortable and highly supportive. Driving the Type R hard gives you a sense of not only how all these components work together in perfect harmony, but that everything is built to a robust spec- Honda’s reputation for durability should give drivers an added piece of mind.
We owe Honda some thanks for sending us the Type R finally, don’t we?
We certainly do. And even though we are only getting 1000 units here in Canada which are no doubt all spoken for by the time you read this, the Type R was worth the wait. Despite salivating dealers that insist on marking up the price substantially, demand should still be insatiably red hot. The special nature and low volume of this car should cement its future as a collector car.
What might go wrong?
Not much. There’s the looks- we’ve heard it described as Anime on steroids- it just gives off a vibe that it’s trying way too hard. For Honda’s part, all the gaping intakes and other addenda serve a purpose aerodynamically which no doubt helped it set the front-wheel drive record at the famed Nürburgring. Like other Honda products, the infotainment system is slow and lacks simple knobs to perform mundane tasks that require you to take your eyes off the road.
Should I buy a Type R?
Are you kidding? Yes, you most certainly should buy a Type R. Cars like this don’t come along too often, and its even rarer to encounter something capable of such monumental performance but still retain they type of daily driver livability so elusive in high performance cars. If that doesn’t convince you, perhaps this bold claim might: This is the best front wheel drive car we’ve ever driven. Better act fast if you want to get your hands on one next year.
2017 Honda Civic Type R – Specifications
- Price as tested: $40,890
- Body Type: 5-door, 5 passenger hatchback
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
- Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged inline 4, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 306 @ 6,500 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 295 @ 2,500 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Curb weight: 1,665 kg (3,111 lbs)
- Observed Fuel consumption: 10.4L/100km (23 mpg)