There is a whole lot of legacy where the new Honda Civic Type R is concerned. Books have been compiled about Type R Hondas – a motley crew of angry derivatives, which over time has been recognised through their exceptional fury and exclusive white paint. But let me stick to the important details for now. . .
For purposes of reference, let’s begin with a list of rivals it will go up against: the VW Golf GTI/R, the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, the Ford Focus ST/RS, the BMW 235i/M2 and the Renault Megane RS. The Type R has arrived to fatten the options list and confound fans of speed.
At 220kW and 400Nm, it isn’t the most potent in the niche, but it is the most powerful front-wheel drive hatch on the market, up-ending the Renault around the Nürburgring. This revelation should ping hard in the ears of Type R fans and worry aficionados of the rest of the segment. It’s more race car than sports hatch.
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Beneath and above its metal skin is where Honda’s industriousness and sporting ambition can be seen. Some will deem its aero-bits a touch too dramatic – vulgar even – and they’d be correct. It’ll scare off conformists with its bi-plane wing, swollen flanks and judicious spread of slash wounds and sharp points festooned over its shell, but rest assured, there is a justifiable, scientific reason behind its venomous appearance.
Deep air scoops up front direct airflow to aid cooling of the transmission, brakes and engine, itself a technical marvel worthy of its own library. Its front-end design promotes down-force, while the slashes above and directly aft of the front wheels minimise turbulence. More aero trickery, including the rear spoiler and diffuser, generate reverse lift. The technical details here should signal that it’s no run-of-the-mill sports hatchback, but a rather well-thought-out track tool.
Sampled in its element at Killarney Raceway in Cape Town the other day, the motorsports-derived wizardry was there for all to see and enjoy. Sitting behind its wheel on proper bucket seats and surrounded by luxury sport ambience, the Type R oozed sporty effervescence, and the vim and vigour of a race-prepared car and all of its bits – from the turbo-charged 2,0-litre engine and trick suspension with LSD to the fruity tones emanating from the quartet of exhaust tips gather to create what is truly the most gushingly sensational sports hatch thus far.