The drive is focussed and succinct, with the car boasting a connectivity to the road that I haven’t felt in any other hot hatch. It’s achingly fast, but sticks so well that it feels much slower. However, this abundance of squat grip doesn’t compromise on the engaging drive for which the Type R is known. In fact, thanks to updated and revised suspension geometry, it is now sharper and more responsive than ever, with no discernible torque steer whatsoever. The result is better braking stability and reduced roll which, combined with the low centre of gravity, inspires you to brake later and corner faster. The adaptive damping on all four corners now evaluates road conditions ten times faster than its predecessor, also working to offer improved suspension response, stability and improved toe-in characteristics under cornering.
Throttle response is immediate (no turbo lag here), and the steering is perfectly precise. In terms of stopping power, two-piece disks replace the previous single piece unit, while Honda’s engineers have worked hard to remove 15mm of brake stroke from the pedal. While I can’t vouch for the difference, the brakes felt pretty damn sharp to me.
Three modes, Comfort, Sport and R+ offer driving styles for various situations, with distinct adjustment to the adaptive dampers, steering force, gear shift and throttle response, although none are afraid to let rip when you put your foot down. And let rip it does, with the direct-injection turbocharged powerplant catapulting the car from 0 - 60 in just 5.8 seconds, with a top speed of 169mph achievable. Power tops out at 320PS (235kW) at 6,500rpm, while peak torque of 400Nm (295lb ft) is available from 2,500rpm to 4,500rpm. And, as you could imagine, traction was not an issue on these spirited sprints.
R+ mode lights up the dash, egging you on and unleashing sheer hell through the front tyres, propelling the car with a vengeance. Optimised everything conspires to make this a track-worthy weapon, although it’s brilliant fun on the road, too. Sport, meanwhile, is the default option when starting the car, combining performance and driveability, while comfort boasts ‘softer’ suspension and a less-urgent steering feel.