25 Years of the Honda Civic Type-R


Commemorating 25 years of the Fireblade and Type R at Rockingham in Northamptonshire recently, Honda gave us the chance to ride Fireblades, as well as drive the Civic Type R, the Integra and the Accord.

We’ve already told you about the Fireblade in a previous article, so here we’re focusing on the Type R – and the Civic, specifically.

The original ‘R’ was the NSX-R, and it set the blueprint: motorsport-motivated engineering, a potent high-revving powerplant, dedicated suspension and, naturally, the illustrious red Honda badge on the muzzle. Initially named NSX-R: the in-house ‘R-type’ moniker was later officially baptised the Type R.

In 1998, the first Type R to grace UK shores was the Integra DC2. It was trailed by the Accord. But 2001 was the revolutionary year, with the Civic Type R (EP3) making its entrance and taking the Japanese hot-hatch to the British mass market. 21,000 were snapped up between 2001-2007, making it the most profitable Type R to date. The next Civic (FN2) came nipping at its tailpipes, and sustained the robust Type R sales in Britain.

But then world-wide recession transpired in 2011 and the Type R designation was put on the back burner. There was to be a gap of three years before the next Civic Type R (FK2) made its appearance. Introduced late in the lifecycle of the ordinary Civic, there are fewer than 2,500 FK2s driving about on our roads. Honda reckons it’s set to become a modern classic.

And now, 2017 sees the latest manifestation hit showrooms. Manufactured from the ground up, together with the everyday Civic, the newest version – the FK8 – has joined the product range.

From its shape to its brain-pureeing performance, the present-day Civic Type R is a supercar really. The rear spoiler seems as big as an aeroplane wing in the rear-view mirror – and the car is so low to the ground, it looks like it’s hoovering-up bitumen for breakfast.

The six-cog manual transmission is the same as the departing model, but now there’s 320ps rather than 310ps to play with. Indeed, it is the only hot hatch to put down that kind of power through front wheels.

Just be mindful of your licence on the public highway, though. Zero to 62mph arrives in 5.7 seconds and 169mph is easily achievable.

But, on track or tarmacadam, it astonishes with its cornering aptitude and refusal to be pried from the asphalt. It encourages wads of assurance and helps you dig deep for courage you didn’t know you had.

When pointing the Civic Type R into an apex, the brakes erase speed instantaneously. The car never pitches wildly, and it doesn’t get upset by changes in the surface its moving on.

The front-wheel-drive steering is razor sharp and never feels flappable, so you can angle the car into turns enthusiastically. The feedback is bang on, so it’s easy to assess the amount of traction remaining on the tyres.

You will savour piloting today’s Civic Type R. That’s without question. I can’t wait to try it for longer. Hell, we might even buy one – all we need is £32,995…

Follw Tim Barnes-Clay on Twitter @carwriteups