With a Nurburgring lap record under its belt, bragging rights don’t get much higher for the 2018 Honda Civic Type R. It’s the hottest new hatch on the new car market. It just is.
The latest Civic Type R is based on the current 10th generation ‘FK’ Civic hatch. It features the most powerful 2.0L engine Honda has ever made for a production car, and it’s also the biggest Civic ever introduced. This gives the new Type R the best chance yet of being the ultimate hot hatch in the core meaning of the phrase; a practical yet fast small car.
What your eyes are looking at is a Championship White Aussie-spec example. The paint colour is actually the only variety offered, with prices for the sole variant starting at $50,990 (before on-roads), plus $575 for the premium paint. It is the most expensive Civic to hit the Australian market.
You instantly know it’s a Type R as soon as you see it. The already-sharp and polarising FK Civic design is amplified via an outrageous (and functioning) aero kit, with a very low front spoiler, deep intakes and a bonnet scoop, and a huge wing mounted at the back. You can’t miss it.
Inside is a similar story. Your eyes are almost blown out of their sockets by the bright red bucket seats. We’re not sure about the tone but they fit your body like a glove, cradling your every contour perfectly. And they aren’t wrapped in a thin veneer of foam either. The cushioning is actually quite soft and forgiving.
The Type R sits at the top of the civic range so it should come as no surprise it comes packed with all of the modern conveniences. There’s a xx inch touch-screen on the dash which provides control of everything from the climate to media to vehicle settings. We don’t like the up-down button control for the volume, as it can be distracting, and the menu functionality can be exhausting. It would be nice if Honda added some more pleasant graphics and colours too.
Power comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 228kW at 6500rpm, and 400Nm of wheel-tugging torque between 2500-4500rpm. These are some of the highest figures you’ll find in the front-drive hot hatch market. This is efficiently and directly sent to the front wheels via one of the nicest six-speed manual transmissions you’ll find and through a tight helical-style limited-slip differential.
According to the in-car boost gauge, the turbo maxes out at about 150kpa (21.7psi). Being a Honda, of course it comes with VTEC variable valve timing technology, in the latest iteration in this case, with direct injection, a forged steel crankshaft and conrods, with hollow camshafts and sodium-filled exhaust valves.
Performance brakes with 350mm discs clamped by four-piston Brembo calipers on the front, and 305mm discs on the rear ensure deceleration performance is better than acceleration performance, while a dual-axis MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension setup developed via countless hours on the Nurburgring provide outstanding body control.
Thanks to adaptive dampers with Comfort, Sport and +R modes, the Civic Type R provides wonderful ride quality. Have a look at how low the car is and how deep the front wheels are embedded into the wheel arches. It looks like it’ll be about as comfortable and sitting in a shopping trolley that’s been pushed down some stairs. Some how, it isn’t. It absorbs bumps so smoothly and confidently. It really is amazing.
2018 Honda Civic Type R: Fun factor
If your idea of fun is hitting high g-forces on a roller-coaster, then you’ll love the Civic. Potential cornering speeds will often outstretch your courage. It’ll sling around tight bends with heaps of front-end bite, and you can apply full throttle in the dry just before the apex for fast and very rewarding exits.
Up through the gears the Type R pulls hard. We timed 0-100km/h in 5.8 seconds. But this doesn’t paint the full picture. In-gear acceleration is more impressive, and each ratio is perfectly spaced for this engine’s power and torque. You can rev it beyond 6500rpm, but you don’t necessarily need to as the biggest chunk of torque is available right in the middle of the rev range.
This might upset some of the Honda fanboys who have long enjoyed revving to 8500rpm and beyond in their previous-gen Type Rs, but to everyone else, you’ll enjoy the fact this model is much more dynamic and balanced. From point-to-point, we’re struggling to think of another car that is this capable and so well balanced. It’s no wonder is has the Nurburgring record.
If you love going for fast drives out in the mountains and enjoy attending track days, but you also need a practical everyday driver, we strongly encourage you to take one of these bad boys for a test drive. It’s genuinely fast without being intimidating, and the excellent suspension setup means you can enjoy it on almost any road. The official average fuel consumption of 8.2L/100km makes it kind on the hip pocket too, and you can get quite close to that figure in the real world.
2018 Honda Civic Type R: 0-100km/h video
How does it rate against rivals?
No other hot hatch on the market at the moment is able to perform as brilliantly as the new Civic Type R. It has set lap records at various international circuits for its class, but surprisingly, on normal roads, where there are bumps and off-camber corners with weird apexes, blind crests, uneven surfacing and debris, the Type R is amazingly sure-footed and competent. There is virtually no nervousness to the car, at all. And that’s an unrivalled feat for a front-driver with this much power. Ride quality and compliance, the beautiful shift feel, and the copious amounts of cabin space make it our favourite hatchback currently on the market. The only thing we would change is the exhaust note, as it is a little bit quiet in our opinion.