Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: October 4, 2017
We’ve all heard those crazy stories about dealerships price gouging the highly anticipated Honda Civic Type R, and it seems there are some enthusiasts out there willing to surrender to those markups for what they amount to be a performance bargain. But what is exactly all this hype about? Why is the Type R garnering so much attention?
First off, this is the first Civic Type R to ever be sold in Canada, in the entire North America for that matter. We’ve been deprived of these track-oriented Civics while overseas they run rampant and charge up to their heavenly 8,000 rpm redlines. So when Honda announced that the Type R was coming to this side of the pond, Civic enthusiasts got more excited than the first time they experienced a VTEC kick.
The next bit of news was the new Civic Type R setting the world record for the fastest production front-wheel drive car around the famed Nurburgring. Hell, it blew even the Shelby GT350 and last-generation Audi R8 V10 out of the water. Not only is that impressive, but it’s mind blowing. Enthusiasts again, rejoiced. Then came the specs, and the world raised an eyebrow. Like the new Civic Si, the Type R was turbocharged. Could this ruin all the fun?
I was fortunate enough to spend a solid week with the Type R and right off the bat, I could tell it was something special. Nevermind the Gundam-esque styling or the planetary STI-style wing that doubles as a picnic table, once I started the engine, the Type R awoke from its slumber and the entire chassis thrummed with the beat of mechanical explosions under the new aluminum hood. The heavily bolstered seats molded into my spine and the feel of the leather wrapped steering wheel under one hand and the cold titanium shift knob in the other definitely got my heart racing. There’s so much emotional value to the Type R, and I suddenly understood why so many of those buyers caved into dealer markups.
You see, despite being turbocharged, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine produces a wild 306 hp and 295 lb-ft, but that last number is key to understanding the Type R’s new behaviour, as max torque is produced from just 2,500 rpm up until 4,500 rpm. You no longer have to work for the power and stretch its lungs to the point of implosion, as it's now fed to you through a silver spoon. The majority of the power is where people spend most of their time: in the low and mid-range, meaning power comes quicker and there are less instances when you need to downshift.
The 2.0L engine is also much happier to rev than the 1.5L engine in the Civic Si that we drove last week. It revs quicker, power comes quicker, and it doesn’t feel like the telephone line is broken between the gas pedal and the engine. In fact, driving the Type R fast and near its limit almost feels too easy, and the absence of any turbo lag means power flows freely and smoothly.
But the engine can’t receive all the credit for this praise. The mated short-throw six-speed transmission is a darling, with a heavier clutch and lower pedal uptake than the Civic Si, and an automatic rev-matching feature that is a Honda-first, the latter of which makes piloting the Type R even easier and more beginner-friendly. Forget about needing to heel and toe, it does it all for you - it can be turned off if you so choose via the infotainment unit. There’s a Brake Hold function for beginners as well, that when activated will keep the vehicle from rolling down a hill when you’re clutching in and slipping into a gear.
The Type R comes equipped with a helical front limited-slip differential to keep power well distributed, larger Brembo brakes for better stopping power, and has been stiffened for a huge bump in structural rigidity over the outgoing Type R. It also gets three-mode adaptive dampers (over the two-mode dampers in the Civic Si), with three selectable driving modes, Comfort, Sport, and +R, each of which adjust the steering, throttle response, stability control intervention, and the firmness of the springs.
The differences between the three are rather subtle, and I wish they made the Comfort setting a little softer sprung, but I did find myself in the +R mode the entire time. The springs aren’t stiff enough to break my spine in this mode, and they hugged the roads but didn’t crash into potholes like a tidal wave. The low-profile 20-inch ContiSportContact 6 tires didn’t help much in comfort, but it did provide insane amounts of grip when cornering, and that’s where this Type R truly shines.
Whoever made the decision to throw AWD plans in the trash definitely deserves a bonus. Not only is the Type R lighter than its rivals because of it, but Honda has tuned the chassis so well that AWD simply isn’t necessary. The traditional vices of FWD like torque steer and understeer are all but absent. The Type R simply devours the bends with a form of grace that I did not experience in the Golf R or WRX STI. The nose bites down hard, the entire body rotates with ease, and the vehicle doesn’t try to wrestle the steering wheel away from your fingertips. That’s because Honda used a new dual-axis front suspension (similar to Buick’s HiPer strut in the LaCrosse) that essentially tries to separate the steering from the suspension, leaving them alone to do their own duties.
Notable exterior changes over the standard Civic Hatchback on which its body style is based upon include a functional hood scoop, front splitter, LED fog lamps, rear diffuser, side skirts, 20-inch wheels, wider fenders, that massive rear spoiler, and center-mounted triple exhaust tips. It’s without a doubt a divisive design as it seems no panel has been spared of the flares and wings treatment.
The interior also carries all the creature comforts from the top of the line Civic trim, including a wireless phone charging pad, Apple CarPlay, a 7-inch touchscreen, premium speakers, and an adjustable center cubby. The materials used are much better than the Civic Si too - there’s none of that scratchy sandpaper fabric, as it has been replaced with a softer suede texture.
The Type R adds a bit of spice with heavily bolstered seats, which are wider and more comfortable than the ones in the Golf R and Focus RS, but sacrifices any heated seat functionality. It also receives a leather wrapped steering wheel, leather shift boot, titanium shift knob (which can be extremely hot or cold to the touch depending on the weather), unique instrument displays, and a serialized Type R plate on the center console to tell you that you’re something special. There’s also a ton of room in the back seat - my six-foot figure doesn’t graze the headliner, nor do my knees nudge the seatback when I sit up straight. Furthermore, there’s much more headroom up front than the Civic Si Coupe and Sedan - perks of a hatchback.
Now at this point, you may think I’m falling head over heels for the Type R, but there was one downside that might be a dealbreaker for some, and it almost was for me. While turbocharging a motor has many perks, the one sacrifice is exhaust noise, and there isn’t much of it here. In fact, the Type R is only marginally louder than the Civic Si. It’s got a bigger growl and a fancy three-pipe exhaust complete with a resonator, but the song never climaxes. The notes plateau mid-range in the powerband and howl at the same note until the redline pings telling you to swap gears. Adding salt to the wound is the fact that a lot of noise is piped in through the speakers, judging by how quiet it was from the outside. Don’t believe us? Check out our Exhaust Notes videos of the Civic Type R and Civic Si and have a listen.
Don’t get me wrong, the Type R is a herculean missile that defies front-wheel drive tradition. The power it produces is incredible, and how it translates that torque into forward and lateral acceleration is nothing short of superhuman. The Type R has charm, it feels like a race car bred for the street, and there’s just so much emotional appeal and value attached to it. Best of all, for just $40,890, you’re entering the arena with one of the easiest hatchbacks to pilot. If you can forgive the lack of drama coming out the pipes and are lucky enough to snatch one of these high demand hatchbacks, you’re in for a treat.
型号 Model: 2017 Honda Civic Type R
顏色 Paint Type: Crystal Black Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $40,890
試車售價 Price as Tested: $40,890
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,700
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,557 / 1,878 / 1,434
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,415
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 306 hp @ 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 2,500 - 4,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.6 / 8.3 / 9.6
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Continental ContiSportContact 6; 245/30R20