Living with: the Honda Civic Type R

Living with: the Honda Civic Type R
Living with: the Honda Civic Type R

Is it simply too much for day-to-day living?

Two thoughts emerge as you look at what you will be running on a daily basis. Is this going to be as much as a head-turner as expected? (We’ll leave aside the underlying assumption of whether this is a good or a bad thing.) Second question is it going to actually work as, you know, like a car thing, you can use to transport yourself and others and kit around?

Because make no mistake about it, in the black pearlescent metal the latest Type R is an extraordinary thing to look at. It seems to have more wings and flying buttresses than the grandest cathedral, but the concern is that you’ll barely be able to fit even a pew inside it.

In reality, on the first point the answer was a resounding ‘yes’, people are going to turn and stare. Trouble was, it was for all the wrong reasons. Firstly though, an embarrassing admission. We looked at the handbook. I know, I know, but we did anyway. And we found this: ‘You may hear the brake squeal under certain conditions. This is not a malfunction.’

The red Brembos squeal like a pig. Slow down in town and everyone turns to see who’s torturing the British Lop in the middle of the High Street. Honda’s take is that you’ve bought a performance car with a performance braking system so what can you expect, but it must be said other manufacturers manage severe retardation without people looking at you like you’re a pig sticker.

But at least, if they are looking, they will be distracted by the sheer extravagance of the car, particularly that huge rear wing that looks big enough to be a barbecue grille for a hog roast. But get under it and lift up the hatchback and things become considerably more normal.

Fold down the 60/40 rear seats and you can liberate 786 litres of space. Even with the seats up you can fit 420 litres of wine in there, sufficient for even the most self-indulgent of weekends away. But any thought that Honda has simply thrown all its considerable might into producing simply a rabidly hot hatch are dispelled by numerous clever little things, none more so than the humble luggage cover.

A retractable luggage cover is so much better than a fixed parcel shelf, that’s obvious. But what’s so smart about Honda’s solution is that it unrolls from the side. So when you need more space it retracts out of the way instead of acting like a barrier across the width of the car. Why’s nobody else come up with that solution yet? Clever Honda, even if we do miss the Magic Seats of previous Civics.

Apart from the paint, we’ve added only one other extra, and that’s the decision to go with GT trim. That’s a £2000 decision, but with it comes all manner of benefits for everything from comfort to safety. You get parking sensors, front fogs, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone climate control, blind spot monitoring and more. On long journeys those things are going to really add up.
They also add up to some extra weight, enough to diminish performance. But, we figured, would we rather have all that extra kit or would we prefer to get to 62mph in 5.7 seconds or 5.8 seconds? We decided on balance we’d do without that extra tenth, because there is enough of the Type R that is so utterly ten-tenths anyway.

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