I already knew +R mode made the suspension stupidly hard, but a month of using the Type R really hammered that home. To the base of my spine.
It’s not just the lack of comfort when you put the Type R in its shoutiest mode (even on a six-month-old piece of road near me, +R mode makes the ride spectacularly bumpy). No, the problem is that on most British country roads +R mode is so stiff, that it makes the car feel nervous. You feel as though you’re fighting to keep the car straight, and as a result, I’ve not had the car in +R for more than about 10 seconds.
It’s more than boisterous and angry enough in regular mode, but it is a shame you can’t configure your own driver setting as on cars like the Seat Leon Cupra. I’d quite happily have the sportier throttle map and the heavier steering of +R mode, without the rock hard suspension, thanks.
Despite the fact the suspension is firm even when +R is turned off, the Civic is a great road trip companion. I’ve found this out to some extent on a couple of three hour trips, where the bucket seats have been brilliantly supportive and comfortable, and the huge boot big enough to swallow the absurd amount of crap you have to bring when going away with a baby for a few days.
However, YouTuber Seen Through Glass tested the Civic’s touring abilities to a much greater degree, when we lent him the Type R (aren’t we nice?) to get him to our Nurburgring meet and back - 400 miles and over seven hours each way - where it performed brilliantly.
We’ve already harped on about the Type R’s amazing gear shift enough, but we haven’t talked much about the amazing knob itself. It’s a beautiful ball of brushed aluminium, and my number one concern has been scratching it to hell with my chunky wedding ring. That’s not been an issue so far, but what has been troublesome is temperature differences.
If it’s particularly chilly out, that metal gear knob gets uncomfortably cold to touch. And if it’s been in the sun, it gets belting hot. Best get a pair of gloves before summer arrives…
Say what you want about the way the Type R looks, but there’s something brilliant about the absurdity of all those big wings, vents and bulges. I love coming back to a car park full a boring euroboxes to see this bright red, bewinged monster drawing all the attention, and visually flipping every other car there the middle finger. You’d struggle to match its sheer visual presence without buying something like a Lamborghini.
The other day, I attempted to put four passengers in the Type R, but hit a snag when I couldn’t find a middle seatbelt. I thought I might have folded it under the seat or something but no, it doesn’t have one. Despite having a big rear bench and loads of leg room in the back, the Type R is a four-seater only.
Previous Civic Type Rs have also suffered from this curious affliction. We’ve asked Honda what the official reason is for this design choice, and are awaiting an explanation…
As with the whole +R mode thing, this is something we already knew, but the last month has given us a potent reminder of the Civic’s incredible front-end grip. The combination of the mechanical limited-slip differential and the clever torque-steer-killing ‘Dual Axis Strut’ front suspension means the Type R easily copes with the 306bhp its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine serves up, and lets you nail the throttle around tight bends while marvelling at the way the car remains stuck to the road.
That’s not to say the car is no more than a powerful FWD sledgehammer, though. There’s a decent amount of feedback from the chassis, and while it’s not up for the same lift-off oversteer antics as the old EP3 Type R, you can get the back end moving around nicely under braking.
It’s pretty common for cars to have a nice button or dial that’ll let you easily cycle through the different bits of the trip computer. Range, MPG, average speed - that sort of thing. It’s not quite so straightforward in the Type R though.
Let me take you through the amount of distracting button pushing you have to do to change from range to average MPG: press ‘Menu’, hit ’Select Trip Computer’, press the down arrow a few times until you find it, press ‘Average MPG’, then press ’Menu’ again to exit.
So, depending on where the particular trip computer option you’re after is on the list, you’re looking at anything between five and seven button pushes for something which takes only one in most other cars. You start to get used to it in time, but more time getting distracted by button pushing isn’t ideal.
And while I’m moaning about on-board electronics, I have to mention the Garmin-sourced nav system. It’s decent enough, but why do I have to choose between ETA and miles remaining? Why not both?
Since CT bike man Neil had a Honda CBR Fireblade on loan recently, we thought it’d be rude not to get the two together for a fast Honda car vs fast Honda bike battle (stay tuned for the full feature!). At one point, I was driving the Type R in a particularly spirited manner, with Neil behind on the bike. Neil remarked that he was having to ‘hustle’ to keep up.
All well and good for tighter corners where having four big contact patches vs two tiny ones will massively favour the car, but it was the same case for the fast sweepers, where the advantage should naturally creep back towards the light, 170bhp bike. That’s not down to me and my (lack of) skill behind the wheel (although local knowledge aided me) - it’s all down to that ridiculous capability we talked about earlier.