Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.
The NSX was the first car to wear the Type R badge, back in 1992. Four years later, the Integra donned it, with a price tag that suited more pockets. The first Civic Type R arrived in 1997, with 183bhp, for the Japanese market only. It wasn’t until 2001, with the arrival in the UK of the second Civic Type R, that enthusiasts crowded to drive the 197bhp 2.0-litre engine. That and six closely spaced gears meant a whole lot of fun from the red Honda badge all of a sudden.
After several years without any progression of the badge, Honda unveiled the current car in concept form at the 2014 Geneva motor show. It looked phenomenal and, more importantly, promised a huge power hike, to “more than 276bhp”. Appetites were duly whetted.
And here we are, two years later, driving 306bhp in a car that looks every bit as sexy as the concept.
Very much a Marmite car, this. You either love that massive rear wing aerofoil, wide front splitter, vents and deep side skirts, or you think this is the ultimate Eighties throwback chav-mobile. We love it. Inside, it’s no calmer, with bright red seatbelts, steering-wheel stitching and bucket seats. In a clever move, that rear spoiler is designed and positioned so that, from the driver’s seat, you see nothing and have good rearward vision. You could even kid yourself this is a sober family hatchback, such is the massive boot space and rear leg room.
The numbers are true hot-hatch territory: 306bhp at 6,500rpm and 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds with a top speed of 167mph. Torque steer has been reduced by 50 per cent and there’s a new four-point adaptive damper system which seems to work pretty effectively; the ride is supple, except when one presses the bonkers +R button, designed really for the track, which sends you jiggling into outer space with damping increased by 30 per cent. It does, however, provide you with the most fun you can shake a stick at, and your neck muscles get a good work out, trying to counteract the immediate and sharp acceleration.
By the bucketload. This Type R has Honda racing heritage stamped throughout it like a stick of rock, and is an absolute bargain. It loves to rev to 8,000rpm, the lights gathering at the top of the dash as if you were Jenson Button, hurtling down the pit straight to victory. Speaking of whom, when we told Button we were driving the current Type R, he was jealous. A previous Type R owner, he was waiting to pick up his current model in electric blue. For me, the Civic Type R was my car of the year in 2015.
Price tag of our car: £30,520