Honda Cars Philippines may be headlining the new Civic Type R as “The Ultimate Racing Machine,” but it’s more than that.
Sure, the 2.0-liter turbocharged VTEC engine delivers peak power of 310PS at 6,500rpm, but even at lower revs, the torque is there and usable. With six gears to select from, a proper one is there for shredding the front tires on track, or for transporting a family of five, or for a grocery run, or even hauling bulky boxes in its roomy hatch.
All done while in relative comfort, far from the inkling of a racing machine.
My first impression of the skinny 20-inch Continental run-flat tires was immediately dismissed. I thought they would ride terribly. Certainly, the Adaptive Handling System has a lot to do with the felt comfort or perceived performance based on the selected mode. Three modes firm up or soften the electronically controlled steering and damping system as well as vary the engine and throttle responses.
The Type R is packed with other performance-enhancing technologies like rev-matching downshifts that are gradually more aggressive, in harmony with the selected driving mode. There’s Agile Handling Assist and a helical LSD together with the sticky tires to maximize mechanical grip when taking corners briskly, and bolstered sports seats so you remain there.
Active Sound Control augments the engine resonance which helps the driver hear the revs when driving on track with helmets on. I wish it could be turned off so the engine induction and exhaust notes could be heard au naturel. While all that helps with spirited driving, there are non-racer concessions like hill-start assist, automatic brake hold for traffic light stops, and de rigueur features like cruise control, dashboard Navigation, and Bluetooth hands-free telephone. Honda’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto implementation have to be said, are not intuitive to set up but work seamlessly after some fiddling. The keyless transponder system is at par with the best out there when it comes to security and ease of ingress and egress.
The new Type R features Honda Sensing, a radar-based safety suite including adaptive cruise control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keep Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation, and Lane Departure Warning. Replacing the ball titanium shift knob is the Type R Tear Drop titanium knob.
Even without taking it to the race track, I can see why it’s advertised as such.
Refreshingly, it has a third pedal. Despite the trivial annoyance of feathering the light clutch pedal in slow traffic, it makes up for it with the satisfaction of choosing the appropriate gear. And the delight of wringing out all that torque from the engine!
The drivetrain pulls hard from as low as 2500 all the way to 6000 rpm. The final drive ratio is short enough for blistering launches or the aforementioned city plod. With that, I was expecting it to guzzle 95 octane gasoline. If you’re so inclined and you have admirable throttle discipline, you could be hypermiling and be amazed at how little it sips.
It is a compelling argument for a combined family car and a hot hatch in one. Obviously, it leans towards the latter guise, as the driving mode defaults to sport. You can opt for comfort mode or the zestful +R mode on the fly with a flick of a toggle switch. Legitimately, the Type R Civic is the ultimate racing machine you can use every day.