The new Honda Civic Type-R is in South Africa and it’s quite special…
We have spent a week with the new Civic Type-R and, as expected, Honda's hot hatch delivers a visceral, hard-edged driving experience. Yes, it’s quite pricey at R586 400, but then again, there’s no front-wheel drive hot hatch that has enough firepower to compete with the Type-R in South Africa, at least for the moment. Look out for a Review of the new Type-R soon, but without spilling all the beans, let’s take a quick look at some highlights of this niche model.
Also see: Honda Civic Type-R (2015) First Drive
Most Powerful Production Front-Wheel Drive Car in SA
Yes, you read that correctly. The Honda Civic Type-R has left naturally aspirated power in its wake and is now powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre VTEC petrol engine that delivers 228 kW and 400 Nm of torque powering the front wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission. That’s more power than the all-wheel drive Volkswagen Golf R (206 kW/380 Nm) and the Renault Megane RS Trophy 275 (201 kW/360 Nm). The result is blistering performance with a 0-100 kph sprint time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 270 kph. The Civic Type-R now redlines at 7 000 rpm and Honda has adapted its VTEC valve lift system to produce more low-end grunt and make turbo lag less noticeable.
Unlike some performance cars, the aerodynamic parts fitted to the new Civic Type-R do serve a purpose. A wide front splitter with deep sills on either side reduce lift on the front axle while a flat underside, in combination with the rear diffuser, increases downforce. The front bumper is further designed to reduce air turbulence and lift around the front wheels and the apertures in the grille further minimise aerodynamic loss. The large (and somewhat flashy) rear wing aerofoil helps to provide additional downforce on the rear axle when driving at speed. The Civic Type-R is less about the show and more about the go…
The +R Button
The new Civic Type-R features a nifty +R button that turns the vehicle into a track-focused animal. At the push of the button, several things happen. Firstly, the dials in the instrument binnacle change from white to glowing red to show that +R mode is engaged. Engine responsiveness is sharpened and the torque mapping is altered to allow for more torque to become available at lower engine speeds. In +R mode, the steering becomes weightier in feel and more responsive to inputs and the damping force of the Adaptive Damper System is increased by 30% to make the suspension firmer and the handling more agile. The +R mode button is by far the best and most useful button in the new Civic Type-R, especially if you want to make the most of a track day.
The specially designed seats in the new Civic Type-R are well worth a mention. They are unashamedly sporty in appearance, but more importantly, offer high levels of comfort when you are driving the Type-R at its limit... and beyond. The sport seats are high-backed and feature suede-like fabric with red double stitching while high side bolstering ensures maximum support in the corners. The new Civic Type-R just won’t be the same without them…
The Type-R legacy
The first generation Honda Civic Type-R appeared in 1997, but was never offered in South Africa. The same applies to the second generation Type-R (introduced in 2001). South Africa got its first taste of the third generation Civic Type-R in 2007 with the introduction of the three-door Euro-spec version that never really sold well locally due to being outgunned by turbocharged rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Nonetheless, Honda’s naturally aspirated VTEC engines, which powered headlining Civic and Ballade models, were – and still are – hugely popular in South Africa. Many enthusiasts are still seen souping up their VTECs with after market add-ons to extract more power and performance. The arrival of the new fourth-generation Civic Type-R is bound to put Honda back on the map in the eyes of performance aficionados and will re-ignite passions of the past with a new and exciting turbocharged product.