At long last, the eagerly awaited Honda Civic Type R is finally here, and joy of joys, the production car is not that far off the concept one. Manufacturers have a tendency of promising one thing and eventually offering something completely different, so the fact that, on the outside at least, the new production Type R resembles its concept prototype is a massive plus. Though it had a Subaru Impreza feel about it, especially the concept one, no one seemed to dislike it. So, what have they done with the new one then?
As is mandatory with a car such as the Type R, we have to start with stats and figures. The 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 316 bhp and 295 lb-ft of torque, some 10 bhp ahead of the Golf R but 29 behind the bonkers Focus RS. Put into perspective against the new Audi RS3 or Mercedes A45 AMG, those figures do seem small, but then again, the Type R isn’t a rival for those cars.
Honda made it abundantly clear that the Type R is more than just power figures. It always has been and always will be. Unlike its two-wheel gone four-wheel drive cousins, it remains true to the hot hatchback trait: FWD. Apparently Honda did take an interest into learning how their competitors were using the AWD system to their advantage, but never thought about equipping it in the Honda Civic Type R, even for a second.
One of the last car’s strong points was its gearbox. Thankfully Honda didn’t tinker around with it too much and decided to keep it as is. The physical shift action is still precise and crisp, mimicking that of a bolt rifle locking into place. The big news here? It now gets a rev-matching feature, which will make even the most incapable of drivers look like driving gods.
The real driving legends among you will no doubt turn it off immediately to enjoy a proper manual heal and toe downshift. No word on an automatic option but who cares frankly? People who want an auto won’t buy a Civic Type R, let’s be real. From the outside appearance you can tell that this car is a bit of a hooligan, and no hooligan will ever drive an automatic. More to the point, no disconcerted automatic driver will want to be seen in the Honda Civic Type R, so both mutually cancel each other out.
Based on the standard Civic, the Type R gets more torsional rigidity (around 38 percent more), and it boasts proper independent multi-link rear suspension unlike the old car’s Torsion Beam setup. It’s quieter too, as Honda worked really hard to make the cabin as isolated as possible, from both road and wind noise.
We know you’re already asking, we can hear you from over here. Yes, they plan on tackling the Nurburgring to set a new record, but don’t get too excited. They don’t plan on fully stripping out the Type R and setting slick on it for the sake of the lap record, but will rather run it as-is. The old car, remember, held the FWD record for around five minutes before being pegged by the Seat Leon Cupra and the Golf GTI Clubsport S.
So the real question is if it can manage to beat those times in its mostly standard guise. We’ll have to wait and see, but if it’s as good in the corners as its stats suggest it is, the Golf and the Leon have their work cut out for them. You can order one now but will receive it in July. Americans receive it sooner.