JAN 07th 2016

Erin Baker – The Most Fun You Can Have For Less Than 30k


A former Motoring Editor at the Telegraph, Erin combines a bike licence and race licence with a love of high-speed cars and penchant for embarrassingly low-speed crashes. Now she has two sons, she’s largely put her leathers to one side, preferring the cut and thrust of automotive industry debates and wondering which cars have Isofix… Erin Baker on Twitter



What’s the best use of £29,995? You might think this is a whimsical, pondering, rhetorical sort of question, with no definitive answer. You might offer up a fortnight at the Sandy Lane in a top-notch suite with first-class flights, for example. Or several barrels of a fine single malt, turned by your own hand on repeat visits to the Highland estate where they’re homed, for 18 years, until ready. Or perhaps a remodelled kitchen, with new Corian work surfaces, a Sub Zero fridge-freezer and a double oven by Wolf (Damon Hill’s got one, you know).

CES 2016 promo

Anyway, you’d be wrong. Because, ladies and gentlemen, there is a definitive answer. And that answer is, quite clearly, the new Honda Civic Type R. Never has so much car been bought for so little money.

I took a straw poll of all the people I transported during the Christmas period. I gave them a taste of the 306bhp, and asked them how much they reckoned that sort of acceleration would cost them. The average guesstimate was £50,000.

No, for £20,000 less than that, you can have more fun than you could ever shake a stick at. I must declare here that last year I edited the Honda magazine, so many people reading this column might think I still do that and that this is therefore a stitch-up, or a royal brown-envelope bung-induced column.

Honda Civic Type-R  Photo: James Lipman / jameslipman.com

But I gave that up last autumn (the editorship, not the bungs, of course), and this is really just an honest, emotional reaction to the sort of car that makes you want to hold back the tide of automated driving pods and cry tears of pure gratitude for engineers that let you feel this alive on a public road, for this little amount of money.

I interviewed Jenson Button last year and he was jealous – actually jealous – of me spending a week with the new Type R. He’d had a little go, and wanted more. I had hot laps with Gordon Shedden, BTCC champion, in a Type R round Silverstone in the autumn, and he didn’t stop giggling.

From its unapologetic Eighties hot-hatch red rear spoiler, to the equally glaring red seat belts, bucket seats and steering wheel, it’s a wedge of energy. It makes you feel alive, and sexy, and stupid in equal measure. Above all, £29,995 buys you a sense of enormous liberty, an experience that’s almost existential; the performance lifts the spirit, it elevates you a hair’s breadth above the road surface and carries you dreamlike to the edge of your adrenaline.

Honda Civic Type-R  Photo: James Lipman / jameslipman.com

I’ll stop there because there will be a proper in-depth Goodwood Test on it shortly for those of you more interested in turbos and manifolds that Descartes and existentialism – shame on you!

But my lord, it’s my car of 2015, without a doubt.

Photography by James Lipman

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