This isn’t the first time we’re taking the Honda Civic Type R for a spin. The last time we drove it was when we did a comparison with the Subaru WRX STI. In the end, we chose the Type R due to how extremely fun it is to drive yet at the same time still managing to be comfortable and practical to be driven daily. Years after encountering the Type R, the front-wheel drive (FWD) hot hatch is back in the Go Flat Out PH garage, but for a much longer duration this time around.
If there’s only one car you could own throughout your entire life, what would it be? I want mine to be fast, practical, and yet at the same time, comfortable enough for daily use. For me, chances are, the Honda Civic Type R is one of those cars. Here’s why.
A Practical Yet Race-Inspired Cockpit
Let’s start with how practical it is. Being a hatchback, this hot hatch is, in some ways, much more practical compared to the sedan. Sure, its 420-liter trunk space is smaller compared to the sedan behind the rear seats, but when you fold the seats down, the Type R’s cargo space grows to nearly 1,600 liters. This is due to its hatchback opening, which provides unimpeded trunk access.
And then because this is a Honda Civic, after all, the interior is just as practical as it is functional. Aesthetically speaking, it has aged well. It also feels sturdy even after all these years. However, since this is production number R-00000 for the Philippine market, this vehicle has been taken care of significantly more than the other Type R demo unit. Either way, the interior has plenty of storage places, the ergonomics are spot on, and it’s spacious regardless of whether you’re seated at the first or second row of seats.
Speaking of those rear seats, it’s weird that there are only two seatbelts. It’s as if that Honda is telling us that the Civic Type R is probably so low, having three occupants at the back might risk the Civic Type R scraping its belly on every single parking ramp or speed bump. Nevertheless, head and legroom are excellent regardless of where you’re seated.
If there’s one part of the interior that didn’t age well, that would be the infotainment system. Back when it was released, the 7.0-inch infotainment system is advanced for its time, but in 2022, it’s now slow to respond and low in resolution when compared to more modern touch screens. This is especially true when compared to the all-new Civic‘s slick touch screen that’s extremely responsive and has sharp graphics. At least there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Subtlety Is Not the Flavor Of The Day
Unfortunately, however, if there’s one aspect that didn’t age that well for me, that would be its exterior. When the FK8 Civic Type R first came out, I was in love with how this hot hatch looked. Fast forward to 2022, and I’m not the biggest fan of its styling. Maybe it’s because of the sheer amount of fake vents, or the over-the-top aero elements such as the huge rear wing or the rear vortex generators. Most likely it’s due to the unfortunate amount of “Tinype-Rs” on the road.
So here’s one sure-fire way to determine if it’s the real thing. The 20-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, and wide-body kit are elements that can be faked. What hopefully will never be faked will be its rear wiper. The non-Type R hatchback was never sold in the Philippines, but from afar, it’s hard to distinguish a Civic hatchback over the sedan. Simply checking the existence of a rear wiper is enough to determine the real Civic Type R from an unfortunate impostor.
Bewitchingly Amazing On The Road
And then finally, we can move on to the most important part–driving. No fake Type R will ever be able to replicate the driving dynamics of the real thing, and it’s singlehandedly the main reason why the Civic Type R remains to be the benchmark among FWD cars. Take it out into a set of twisties, and the car’s neutral and grippy handling encourages you to drive fast with confidence.
Having plenty of power in an FWD car is often a recipe for disaster since the front axle is meant to do two things. Apart from pointing the car in the right direction, the front wheels need to propel the car forward. When you step on the throttle, the front wheels are being urged by all 310 horses to move forward, ideally in a straight line. But then, you have a human input that tries to counteract that as you go through corners. The end result of these contradicting forces is often torque steer, especially in an FWD that’s this powerful.
However, Honda’s engineers were able to nearly eliminate all torque steer in the Civic Type R. This is thanks to a trick dual-axis strut front suspension. Combined with a limited-slip differential (LSD) that sends power to the wheel with the most grip, the Civic Type R feels neutral and almost free from any understeer. Powering out of a corner, as a result, is always clean and confidence-inspiring.
The steering, throttle, and suspension are all equally fantastic. Changing the drive modes from Comfort to Sport or R+ mode varies the steering weight and responsiveness, adaptive suspension damping, and throttle response. Flicking to R+ mode makes the Type R a very sensitive and hyperactive monster, while Comfort mode tames this beast and makes itself friendly and approachable for everyday use. Whatever the drive mode, the steering feel is rich, and the suspension–even in its stiffest setting–still offers plenty of travel to absorb the worst road bumps.
Okay, so the 20-inch wheels and low profile Continental SportContact 6 tires do let in a number of sharp bumps unfiltered, but it’s never harsh and unbearable, unlike the Subaru WRX STI. Additionally, the clutch is light even for use in traffic, and the six-speed manual is one of the best in any car around the world. It would be a shame if you’ve never driven such a finely-tuned manual at any point in your life. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder VTEC Turbo engine, while not the best sounding, has plenty of pull whatever the rev range. Even in sixth gear, there’s plenty of shove even when overtaking from 80 kph. Its 400 Nm of torque is felt in such as wide RPM band.
Yet despite having this much performance under the hood, the Honda Civic Type R won’t break the bank in terms of fuel bills. At 11.6 km/l, it’s no thirstier than a standard Civic regardless of what engine’s powering it.
And this is exactly why the Honda Civic Type R was and still is a contender for a car that I can only own throughout my entire life. My ideal dream car is something that’s practical enough to carry my friend and family, comfortable enough to be used on a daily basis, yet at the same time, put an absolute smile on my face every single time I drive it. Only a few cars are able to match my very strict criteria, and yet the Honda Civic Type R continues to be part of my list of dream cars.
If this outgoing FK8 will serve as a template for the next-generation Civic Type R, I’m definitely excited for what’s about to come, Honda.
Pricing and Rating*
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
*Rating applies to 2018-2020 Civic Type R only.
*Pricing applies to 2021 model year Civic Type R. It is also correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.