The last Civic Type R – the FK2 – had legions of fans, but maybe they weren’t quite as fervent as the fans of the Type R two models before that, the second-gen EP3. That’s because the FK2 had a few, let’s say, quirks. Like a decidedly average throttle response, a pretty stiff +R mode, and a too-high driver’s seat. It was a good car, but not a perfect one.
So, the weak points that this new FK8 model had to address were well known and obvious. All Honda had to do was fix the flaws without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, the baby in this case being the thrilling turbo engine, ultra-snappy gearbox, fine track handling – and, not to put too fine a point on it, the appearance. It wasn’t a looker, the FK2.
You’ll have your own view on whether the FK8 sorts that last issue. It’s certainly different to the FK2, but some common themes remain: it’s a busy design with a growly front end, all of it attributed to aerodynamic needs. Wheelbase is up by 95mm and the overall length by 165mm, so it’s noticeably bigger, but the jury is still out on the overall look. Let’s hope it’s a ‘grower’.
It’s a pity that these subjective styling points are always going to distract from the core driving proposition which, frankly, is fantastic. It begins as soon as you drop down into that 50mm lower driver’s seat. That makes a massive difference to the driving feel. Being low in a car like this is much better than being perched up high. You feel a lot more secure and inclined to treat the car as it’s been designed to be treated. The pedals-to-gearstick relationship is better too, while the 10 per cent lighter seats are brilliantly comfy and supportive.
Crank up the engine and revel in the more intent noise from the three-pipe exhaust. That centre pipe helps to cut ‘speed boom’ and contributes to a useful helping of four-pot rasp over the usual turbo whoosh – not as spine-tingly as the classic VTEC ‘kick-in’ but a…