High praise from Matt Prior, an automotive journalist for AutoCar who was lucky enough to test drive the new Honda Civic Type R in eastern Germany. Though the itinerary included both racetrack and public road driving, most of the roads were smooth and easy to drive on with constant-radius curves, so his review may not be the most helpful for those who like to weave around the local B-roads.
Highly anticipated, especially for those in North America, the Civic Type R is currently the most powerful production front-wheel-drive hatchback with 316bhp on tap and it managed to set a new lap record for its segment at the Nürburgring. With a time of 7min 43.8sec, it is 7 seconds faster than the previous Gen Type R.
Keeping it planted on the track is a rear wing and underbody that provides positive downforce. The new model’s center of gravity is also lower thanks to a relocated fuel tank that no longer sits under the front seats. Instead it has been moved to the rear passenger seats so the driver can sit 50mm lower. But the most notable mechanical change in the Type R’s latest iteration is the use of a fully independent, multi-link rear axle instead of a torsion beam.
Powering the Type R is still the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo unit found in its predecessor, but Honda managed to wring more power out of it without causing the engine to knock by adding a water jacket around the exhaust manifold. To be more exact, it’s 316bhp at 6500rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque from 2500-4500rpm.
On roads, the 2017 Civic Type R firm and controlled yet more comfortable than the previous gen. Most of the time, Matt left it in Sport mode though it could be set to Comfort for a softer ride, but at the cost of body control. Dial it to +R and steering will gain more weight with faster engine response and sped up auto-blip system, though it will feel jittery on most roads. Some turbo lag is to be expected and it’s worse at low revs though drivers will still notice it through the mid-range a bit.
Taking to the track, the Type R felt agile and controlled with enhanced stability. This is due to Honda giving it more toe-in at the rear under braking and a bit of adjustability on the throttle, though not as much as the Renault Mégane RS 275. There’s plenty of grip and poise to be found alongside good steering feedback and excellent brake feel.
Compared to the older model, the new 2017 Civic Type R gives drivers all the performance its predecessor had to offer with more daily driveability so you’re not feeling taxed at the end of the day.