There’s no doubt that the car itself would be a sensation. This is a 300-plus-hp, front-wheel-drive hatchback that’s capable of lapping the Nürburgring Nordschleife in less than eight minutes—and with styling seemingly inspired by the body armor of an Imperial stormtrooper. Yet the R would also have been highly controversial for being turbocharged back when the Honda brand was still practically fetishizing natural aspiration. So the question for 2015 is whether the ends really justify the means.
The specific output is certainly impressive. A total of 306 horsepower from a 2.0-liter four puts the Civic’s engine just slightly above the brawny, 292-hp version of Volkswagen’s EA888 TSI engine, as fitted to the Audi S3 and the Golf R. Indeed, it practically matches the output of the BMW M235i with two fewer cylinders and 50 percent less displacement. The engine features a small single-scroll turbocharger and a VTEC variable valve-timing system that will overlap exhaust and inlet slightly to reduce turbine lag. Much is made of the engine’s ability to rev to a 7000-rpm redline, with peak power coming online at 6500 rpm, but that ceiling is a full 1000 rpm lower than managed by the last Civic Type R.
There are absolutely no doubts on the performance claims. Having once seen Midnight Express, we stay in close proximity to speed limits when driving anywhere east of Germany, but a less-imaginative colleague from another title reported seeing an indicated 168 mph on a quiet stretch of divided highway. The R drones at cruising speed, with some low-frequency harmonics from the sports exhaust, but once the turbo is spinning the engine pulls solidly all the way to the limiter, the arrival of which is flagged by a sequence of LEDs that light on top of the instrument binnacle.
Honda also lays on some time at the Automotodróm Slovakia Ring and the chance to take the Type R for a few laps. Most of what’s true on road proves equally so on the circuit, although the higher speeds of the track make the engine feel slightly breathless as the limiter approaches. The Type R turns and grips extremely well, the differential and stability-control system working together to fight understeer in the slower turns. We also confirm that cornering lines can be influenced instinctively by easing the throttle pedal. It’s at home here, as its Nürburgring time suggests it should be.
The Type R needs to be seen in the context of Europe’s current crop of similarly powerful megahatches. It’s priced hard against rivals like the Golf R, and in most markets it costs more than the Renault Mégane R.S. 275 that most Euro fanboys will tell you is the current front-drive champion. Hence the need for the powerful turbocharged engine and the importance of that scorching Nordschleife time. You can’t argue with the raw numbers, but the result is a car that lacks some of the fizz that made its predecessors different and special. We leave Slovakia with the suspicion that this Type R might be a better car if it didn’t try quite so hard. That said, we eagerly await its successor’s arrival in America.
Credit pictures. caranddriver
text credit. caranddriver