Honda Civic Type-R GT first drive

Honda Civic Type-R GTJust as important as the original Civic was in 1973 to establish the Honda brand, so is the 10th generation Honda Civic five door hatchback range built in Britain for global markets.

It’s vital this model is successful for the future of UK jobs.

Top model in the new Civic range is the 4th generation Type-R GT 2.0-litre turbocharged 320hp version I tried that costs £32,995. The slightly lower spec, but not in terms of performance, is the Type- R which costs £30,995.

Thankfully for most users there are less costly models priced from £18,890 up to the price quoted for the Type-R GT. There is the choice of 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre turbodiesel engines and depending on the engine chosen, SE, SR, EX, Sport, Sport Plus, Prestige and of course Type-R and Type- R GT specification levels. Of the 15,000 new generation Civics expected to be sold in the UK this year 10% of them will be Type-R variants.

The 10th generation Civic is the largest Civic to date and it is the best looking, best handling, most comfortable, best specced and even in its smallest engine form the best to drive.

The Type-R versions bristle with aerodynamic add-ons in the form of an aggressive looking, front deep spoiler, rear diffuser, rear tailgate spoiler and side skirts with fins, strakes, blades and air inlets all around the low riding five door body. Honda engineers assured me at last week’s media event that nothing about the Type-R’s styling is to do with visually enhancing the car, they all have a purpose in creating down-force, providing high speed stability, speeding up airflow around the body and reducing drag in the search of maximum performance. Even the three port centrally positioned exhaust system has been designed for optimum unrestricted airflow.

So performance is what the Type-R is all about. The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder VTEC turbocharged petrol engine pushes out a significant 320hp at a high 6,500rpm but more important is the 400Nm of torque delivered at 2,500rpm. It is this that makes this car so responsive accelerating from mid range speeds to top speed. That figure for the record is 169mph with zero to 62mph taking 5.8-seconds. There are three selectable driving modes, Comfort, Sport and +R which can alter the steering feel, ride comfort, vehicle stability, traction control, throttle responses and the Rev Match system which does what it says, matches revs via an engine ‘blip’ to gearchange speeds.

With its six-speed close ratio sports manual gearbox and limited slip differential the car lapped the world-famous Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit in 7-minutes 43.8-seconds, the fastest time ever for a front wheel drive car.

All I can say is that on my test drive around some winding Cotswold rural roads it was ‘fast’ but more impressive was the mid range response and also the ability to provide fuss-free driving in stop/start busy Friday afternoon traffic around Swindon.

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It wasn’t even that thirsty for fuel either. The official Combined Cycle figure is 36.7mpg and my fast and then slow test drive returned a real-life figure of 32.3mpg. With CO2 emissions of 176g/km, VED road tax is £800 First Year rate and then £140 Standard Rate. Company car speedy users will pay 34% Benefit-in-Kind tax. Insurance is Group 40A.

The specification is high and there is lots of driving safety equipment and driver support functions. Its roomy, got a large 420-litre boot which goes up to 786-litres with the rear seats folded so it can double as a relatively roomy family car without hassle. So there’s no good reason not to have one if you have to explain yourself to other members of the family or business on why you want one. You know it makes sense!

MILESTONES: Honda Civic Type-R GT 2.0 VTEC Turbo Manual. Price: £32,995.

Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, VTEC turbocharged petrol, 320hp, 400Nm of torque from 2,500rpm, 6-speed manual, three driving modes, front wheel drive. Performance: 169mph, 0-62mph 5.8-seconds, Combined Cycle 36.7mpg (32.3mpg, CO2 176g/km, VED road tax £800/£140, BiK company car tax 34%. Insurance Group: 40A. Warranty: 3-years/90,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,557mm, W 1,877mm, H 1,434mm, boot/load area 420/786-litres, 5-doors/4-5-seats. For: Best Honda Civic yet, best Civic Type-R so far, aggressive exterior styling, high specification, well balanced agile handling, compliant ride, healthy mid-range engine response, attractive prices in its hot family hatch market sector, built in Britain. Against: Old-school design infotainment system, like or loathe exterior styling, rear seats only really designed for two people, exhaust tone could be more distinctive under acceleration. Miles Better News Agency

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