First Drive

Honda Civic Type R 2020 UK review

As with the old car, Comfort will serve you well for 90% of the time. Driven at eight tenths in this mode, the Type R breathes nicely with the road yet still corners flat and fast, The lighter steering won’t be to all tastes, but it has a progressive rate of response and just enough feel to keep you informed.

And what you’re being told is that there’s bags of front end grip on turn in, while the aggressive (but not too aggressive) limited-slip differential doles out excellent traction out of slower corners. However, get greedy with the throttle and the turbocharged engine’s 295lb ft of twist will result in some subtle torque steer weave and a flicker of traction control intervention in second and third gear.

Go a bit harder, flick through to Sport (as before, hardcore R+ is best left alone on the road) and the car feels even more tightly tied down. Yes those rapid-fire undulations in the road do get it pogoing a little, but overall the control and composure are impressive. The Type R simply demolishes B-roads and as a point-to-point machine is hard to beat.

There’s lots of grip, but it feels adjustable, too, with a little lift of the throttle or brush of the brakes bringing a subtle change in attitude that allows you to place the car just so. It’s impressive stuff, and your mind boggles at the magic that has been weaved on this front-wheel-drive chassis.

In all other respects, it’s pretty much the same as before. The sound synthesiser for the plumbed-in engine noise has been treated to some manipulation of its ones and noughts for a more ‘authentic’ sound (it’s better than most), but the blown four-pot still delivers a very heft punch. There’s the same rich seam of low and mid-range muscle, plus the familiar VTEC rush for the redline as the revs pass 5000. Roll-on acceleration is startling and there are few hot hatches that dispatch slower moving traffic with such alacrity.

And when you’re not driving to end it all, the Type R is still a Civic, which means it does all the family car things well as well. Yes, the red-accented interior is a little startling (that’s where the Sportline comes in), but there’s space for five and a massive boot, plus all the kit you’re ever likely to need.

That’s less true of the 47kg-lighter Limited Edition, which loses air-con and any sort of infotainment. What’s it like? Well, we only got a few laps of a circuit to sample it, but it was very quick and very grippy. Compared with the standard car, you could brake later, carry more speed through the corner and get on the throttle earlier. However, much of this performance gain is likely down to those gumball Michelins rather than any diet, and our sneaking suspicion is that a standard car on the Cup 2s would be only a biscuit behind it on pace.

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