It’s finally here, TFL’s driving impressions of the most-hyped hot hatch of the year, the 2017 Honda Civic Type R, the most powerful production Honda vehicle ever sold in America. It currently holds the lap record at the legendary Nürburgring circuit in Germany for a front-wheel-drive production car. Honda flew Roman to Montreal to drive the Type R on the rural backroads of Québec and on the track. We’ve already showed you the what and the why behind the car’s aerodynamics. Roman pointed out the 5 most surprising aspects of the Honda’s speed machine. Now we can tell you what he thinks.
This is the 5th generation of the Civic Type R, but it is the first to go on sale in America. To help mitigate the decades of frustration felt by American-based Honda fanboys who’ve lusted after the car, Honda was nice enough to put it on sale in the U.S. first. That’s right, no one else in the world can get one of the first 2,700 units to roll off the UK assembly line right now. So what do we get? A completely new Civic, from the wheels up, including a turbocharged 306-hp four cylinder engine that puts out a near instantaneous 295 lb-ft. of torque. There’s comfortable seating for four adults and a respectable 28 mpg hwy EPA number. And perhaps the best number of all is the sticker price: $33,900 plus $875 in dealer handling.
Drivers select from three drive modes in the Type R: Comfort, Sport, and R+. Comfort is best for everyday driving. Sport ramps up the throttle response and stiffens the suspension. And R+ is the Civic’s track mode that turns up the performance to 11. Power comes from a 2.o-liter turbo four (made in Ohio no less). Max torque kicks in at 2,500 rpm. While we didn’t log any 0-60 times, the car is fast. Honda claims a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 168 mph. And for a front-wheel drive speedster harnessing 306 hp, Roman found it incredibly forgiving. Torque steer? Not a problem. Braking? No biggie thanks to the Brembos.
A sweet-shifting 6-speed manual is the only way to get the Type R, and Roman found it a pure joy to manipulate. Rev-matching on the downshifts will make any driver, who can’t heel-toe, feel like a pro.
Much of this performance is due to the engine, of course. But a lot more is wrung out of the small details Honda paid attention to. There’s no moonroof because those are heavy and move the car’s center of gravity higher. The aluminum hood serves the same purpose, cutting weight off the top of the car. The result is a car that’s lighter, wider, with a lower center of gravity, and with 20-inch tires, grippier.
Behind the wheel, Roman says it best, “The car always wants to go faster. It’s always egging you on.” He expects that owners will see their insurance rates rise due to the number of speeding tickets they get.
COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
Amazingly, the Type R can haul four six-foot-plus tall passengers. Front passengers get the Type R’s racing seats. The two adults in the rear — there is no middle jump seat in the Type R — will have no problem getting comfortable. Even though it’s billed as a track car made for street driving, Honda didn’t leave out the creature comforts.
The infotainment system works with Apple Car Play/Android Auto, features navigation, back-up camera, and dual climate zone controls. The standard options list is long–the only option available is the exterior color of the car.
TFLCAR’s TAKE: Roman has a few quibbles: Not going with AWD, as its competition does, leaves him wondering what the Type R could be with AWD. The Subaru STI, Ford Focus RS, and VW Golf R all rely on AWD to wondrous effect. Another itch in Honda’s brilliant Type R, engine has an element of restraint in its sound — it doesn’t sound like a wild animal being unleashed. And there is also a cheesy amount of faux carbon fiber on the inside and outside that strikes Roman as inauthentic. But at the end of his test Roman says, “I can’t think of any other car that comes straight from the factory and puts such a huge smile on my face for such a low price.”
See for yourself in his video review here: