Under the nose of the FL5 Honda Civic Type R you’ll find pretty much the same engine that motivated the FK8. The 2.0-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine now has 329PS (242kW) and 420Nm (309lbft). Not a whole lot more than it had before, but the weight of the turbo has been reduced to speed up its reactions and a lighter flywheel has been added to help throttle response – especially on lift-off.
The rest of the mechanicals are also very similar to what went before. A six-speed manual gearbox, a limited-slip diff, but the Type R now sits on wider rubber, and the adaptive damping has been re-tuned for improved handling. In fact, everything that separates chassis from road has been made a little more harder-wearing to take more of a b-road pounding.
Has it worked? Well, yes. If the old Type R was a monster that you had to spend a moment learning to drive, the FL5 comes intuitively. Power can still be found high up the rev range, but peak torque now sits between 2,600 and 4,000rpm. Rather than constantly hunting revs you find yourself happily shifting in the mid-range to hunt all that torque.
The steering is lightning fast, but manages to never feel like it darts. The clever steering rack that Honda has used for more than one generation means that torque steer remains surprisingly minimal, despite the Type R staying resolutely front-wheel-drive.
The front is the new Honda Civic Type R’s real showstopper. You can lean on it as you enter a corner and ride the grip on the outside tyre. The back will bounce around to some extent but never tries to imitate a pendulum – this experience is about using the LSD to keep the front hauling you around rather than yanking power to complete a corner.
The gearbox is magic, not so perfectly refined that you never feel involved, but blessed with such a short throw and lovely gear knob that you will find pleasure in changing down to stop at traffic lights. It still demands you work. Shift too fast and you will hear that horrendous crunch of un-knotted cogs. The rev hang remains, it might be diminished, but it’s there enough that on the way down you will just need to pause from time to time. But when it all nits together it’s a delight.
The suspension I found to be a bit of a mixed bag. You will probably want to spend some time fettling your own individual setting because “Comfort” is fine but doesn’t quite give the balance you want mid-corner and +R can feel deadly. Stick it into the top setting and the already sharp Type R becomes vicious. It’s absolutely perfect for smooth tarmac, upon which you can sling the now rock-solid Honda from bend to bend, but on a bumpy b-road the vertical movement can feel like the North Sea in February. The good thing is that it means you have plenty of confidence in the way the car shapes through a corner, and it never feels like it tracks horizontally.