Honda Civic petrol performance
The new 1.8-litre i-VTEC engine made its debut in the Civic and it's a remarkable unit, delivering high performance for its size with the fuel consumption of a much smaller engine. It can sprint from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds and is a lovely to exploit as it revs freely but remains refined even when pushed hard. The other petrol is a 1.4-litre i-DSI with 83bhp but this is only available in five-door entry-level SE trim.
All Civics come with a six-speed gearbox while the two petrol engines can be specified with an automatic gearbox called i-SHIFT. It has both semi and fully automatic modes and carries a £700 premium. Switching between automatic and manual is straightforward, and once in the manual set-up, paddles mounted on the steering wheel control up and downshifts.
The sole diesel is the quiet and refined 2.2-litre i-CTDi which is one of the best diesel engines around. The all-aluminium unit delivers power smoothly and predictably which makes it easy and relaxing to drive in traffic and hushed on the motorway.
Honda Civic Type-R performance
Honda has carried over the 2.0-litre engine from Civic Type R (EP3) with a few tweaks to make it a little smoother and more responsive - as a result it now has 200bhp (compared to 198bhp in the old car). The power delivery is smoother but while the engine has been improved it still needs to be worked hard to get the most out of it, as it does without the turbocharged boost that most rivals benefit from.
It also lacks pulling power so you'll often find yourself changing to a lower gear in order to keep up with traffic, which can be tiring on motorways. But thanks to a low kerbweight it's quick from 0-62mph, completing the sprint in just 6.6 seconds which is faster than the Volkswagen Golf GTi and more powerful Ford Focus ST.
If you're on a back road blast the Civic Type-R is also immense fun and the short-shifting and precise six-speed manual gearbox makes it easy to keep the engine at higher revs allowing you to access its power.
Agile and surefooted, the Civic corners with confidence and the precise steering provides good feedback. It may not quite be as involving as the Ford Focus but it still boasts minimal body roll and an eager nature through corners. On twisting roads it feels stable and the firm brakes provide excellent stopping power while the gearshift has a sporty short throw.
The three-door Type-S model has lower suspension making it more focussed, although the ride is noticeably firmer as a result - however both cars are involving and enjoyable to drive. The ride on the motorway is impressively composed, but the suspension often transmits shocks from potholes into the cabin.
How does the Honda Civic Type-R handle?
The Type R's suspension is based on that of the standard Civic, but it is lower and has a wider stance at the rear. The car feels well balanced when pressing on but the ride is firm and it struggles over bumpy and rough road surfaces. However the steering is superbly responsive and the Type-R changes direction with deft agility while the strong brakes add to the surefooted feel.
There's almost endless levels of grip too and with virtually no body roll and a stiff bodyshell it feels every inch the hardcore hot hatch. It's not only enjoyable to drive but incredibly involving, the problem is that the Civic is also pretty uncompromising so while it's a great at being a performance car, it struggles in terms of comfort. It's rarely a relaxing car to drive.
The interior of the Civic is equally as mid-2000s futuristic as the outside. The dash uses something Honda calls the Dual Link Concept - this puts the most important controls up high while less important switches are lower down.
As a result you'll find the ventilation and stereo controls at the same level as the steering wheel, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.
The driving position is excellent and there's plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering column while the three-spoke multifunction steering wheel is a wonderful piece of design.
The blue back-lit dash with it's digital read out creates a 3D effect, although it's sometimes hard to see as the arched plastic instrument cover reflects light in bright sunshine.
Honda Civic Type-R behind the wheel
The Type-R's interior is similar to the standard Civic but adds some sporty features such as an aluminium gearshift, sporty pedals, red stitching on the steering wheel, red seats and deep red carpets. It feels different enough from the standard car to remind you that you're in a hot hatch while still retaining the futuristic look.
The instrument cluster features a strip of red LED lights that illuminate as the revs rise but while the driving position is good, some drivers may find that their view of the digital speedo is obscured by the top of the steering wheel.
The quality is excellent though with precise buttons and soft touch materials.
While the Civic is roomy the rear is lacking in headroom for taller passengers and care needs to be taken in the five-door model to avoid hitting your head on the rear pillar on the way in.
The large pillars also make you feel hemmed in, but the interior is comfortable and should carry five people without complaint. Climate control is standard from SE specification upwards and on the Type S plus electric windows are fitted across the range.
How comfortable is the Honda Civic Type-R?
The Type-R is certainly more refined than its predecessor but compared to a Golf or Focus it lags behind in the comfort stakes. The ride is firm and the suspension isn't particularly forgiving over uneven road surfaces while the engine's relative lack of in-gear pace means a fairly frantic driving experience most of the time.
The bucket-style seats are superbly supportive though, if a little on the firm side and as with the standard Civic, there's decent room in the back - although headroom is a limited due to the sloping roof.
The engine is a little more vocal and the note has a lot more character than the old one.