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Car Reviews, Hatchback, Sports


Honda Civic Type R FK8 Review

16 Jun , 2017  

We know what you’re thinking…it’s only been a week since the last Type R was launched?!

Well, it has in fact been a whole two years. And, in an effort to alienate buyers of the last gen, Honda have outed its latest blistering hatch barely six months after the all new model was unveiled.

Packing 316 BHP and 400 Nm of torque, this front wheel drive weapon is capable of 272 KPH and a ring time of 7 minutes 43.8 seconds – seven seconds quicker than old one.

 

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Prices start at £30,999 for the entry level model. The plusher GT is an extra £2,000 and includes; blind spot monitoring, dual zone climate control, auto dimming rear view mirror, Garmin Sat Nav, wireless phone charging, an 11 speaker stereo system and LED front fogs.

So yeah…stick with the entry level, unless you’re a tart.

 

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Looks

It’s going to be love or hate. Pure marmite right there.

Personally? It looks ok. I’m not overly keen on the car as a whole anyway. It’s far too American and too much of a departure from old.

The added wings and aero are still pretty in your face. Aggressive has definitely been turned up to 11.

And that huge rear wing is fully functional, coupled with a totally flat underfloor it creates downforce. Meaning the Type R is the only hot hatch to suck itself down onto the road.

 

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How much downforce? Who knows…that’s a number Honda won’t publish. So it’s probably quite inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

You’ll also find vortex generators on top of the rear hatch, à la Mitsubishi Evo. These help the balance at high speed…we can verify that at vmax it’s very stable in a straight line.

 

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Drive

Honda have retained the reverse VTEC setup of the last gen Type R, but inside that block of metal things have become even more techy.

The exhaust valves are filled with sodium, the oil cooler is now water cooled, oil runs through channels around the pistons, the exhaust manifold is also enclosed in a water jacket, and that hood scoop sucks in fresh air before running it across the engine and underneath the Civic.

But putting 316 BHP through one axle is pretty insane. Honda seem to have become masters of this though, with the previous Type R reacting incredibly under acceleration.

The story continues with the FK8.

 

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Powering out of a corner results in zero torque steer. The mechanical limited slip diff is sublime, it doesn’t tug or pull the wheel from your hand at all. It works in tandem with some clever dual axis front struts and adaptive dampers at all four corners.

There are three different driving modes to choose from in the Type R. The default mode is ‘Sport’, but you can switch into ‘Comfort’ for a softer ride and fluffier steering. +R stiffens the dampers fully, increases the steering response to pin sharp levels and makes the engine even more attentive.

Ride has improved a lot over the FK2. It’s far more forgiving over rougher sections of road, some would say the previous model was compromised, siting it as too harsh for the road. For us, that’s what makes a proper hot hatch, you have to live with some negatives, it’s goes with the territory.

0-62 can be achieved in 5.7 seconds, so a little way off the 5.1 of a manual Golf R…which is similarly priced. More on that later though.

 

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Although torque steer has been negated, there’s little sensation in what the wheels are doing. Obviously, it’s either one or the other when you’re talking this amount of power through the front axle. We’d much rather feel nothing than being pulled across the road each time we put our foot down.

Braking is dealt with by 350mm vented, drilled disks up front and solid 305mm jobbies at the rear.
We sampled the Type R on track and they held on well until the end, with brake feel being particularly progressive and nice to modulate.

For such a large car the Type R is superbly balanced. Dive into a corner, give the brakes a dab, turn in and you can unsettle the back end nicely. If you’re coming in rather hot, you can even get a bit of a drift on, correcting it is a breeze with some opposite lock.

Being in Germany meant we had long sections of derestricted autobahn to cover. So, we managed to max out the Civic Type R not once, but twice. 272 KMH or 170 MPH was indicated on the speedo. We even cornered at around 140.

 

 

All the while the Civic felt nice and stable. Even under firm braking from speed, there was only a small wobble to be had from the new-fangled multi-link rear suspension. Granted, at those speeds the steering did become rather light, but it’s doable and once up to full chat the Type R will happily sit there.

We must mention the 6th gear too. It’s mightily strong all the way up to vmax, but also useable from around 35 MPH without taxing the engine. Incredible.

Oh, and in +R mode you get rev matching on the downshifts. Making you a total hero to the uninitiated. It can be turned off if you’re more analogue and want to heel and toe.

 

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Interior

Again, Honda have tamed this Type R even further. Those hard, hugging seats from a few years ago are gone. These ones are lighter, but softer.

The wings on the side are malleable and squidgy. They may be amazingly comfy, but when pushing the Type R hard on track, they just don’t give you enough lateral support like the old ones.

In the FK2 the seats felt like race seats, they made the interior a special, hardcore place to be. Now it’s just a comfy place to be.

 

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Apart from the svelte aluminium gear knob and a few splashes of Alcantara, the rest of the interior is standard Civic fare. An Alcantara steering wheel would’ve been nice…we liked that a lot on the old R.

 

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Conclusion

Making a car more compliant and easier to live with is always going to be a positive to most buyers.

But when a little chunk of soul is cut out with it, well, that’s kind of sad.

For us a hot hatch has to have those little compromises. The ride should be ridiculously firm for day to day driving, the seats should feel like they’ve come out of a touring car.

As soon as you make a hot hatch a brilliant all-rounder, it just becomes a bit plain.

Yes, there are a few niggles. The bonnet jitters around alarmingly at higher speed, the gear change could be a fraction cleaner from 1st to 2nd, and some of the buttons are a tad plasticy.

Then again, it’s more engaging than a Golf R, more analogue than a Focus RS…and we wait with baited breath for the new RS Megane.

Honda have simply nailed fast, front wheel drive hot hatches, with the FK8 Type R being the quintessence.

The thing is, this Type R has lost some of its character during the making.

 

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By  -  
Owner / Editor of Carwitter - French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Follow @car_witter



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