Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Familiar with the standard Honda Civic? Then the – busy – cabin of this Civic Type R will be instantly recognisable to you.

Except now it’s been swathed in a sea of red fabric, red leather, red stitching, black Alcantara and slivers of carbon-effect trim. The steering wheel is also new for the Type R with slimmer spokes for a more comfortable grip and the machined aluminium gear knob is a nod to Type Rs of the past. It is, without question, an obviously hot-hatch interior – and for many that’s a good thing.

The seats are certainly a highlight, despite the slightly garish red used for most of their covering, thanks to the deep bolsters to the side of your hips and the enveloping shoulders higher up. They’re 20mm lower than in a regular Civic, which is an improvement, though another 20mm further still would have made for a more pleasing position. Despite their support and extreme look they feel perfectly comfortable too.

Like its predecessors the rear seats lose the red, the black bench merely trimmed with red stitching and augmented by the red seatbelts.

That gear knob is another talking point with the previously lauded short throw and tactile metal spherical grip – but you don’t have to move your hands far from the wheel to swap cogs, ideal for quick changes on the move.

The shift lights, which converge as you get closer to the top of the engine’s rev range, just above the speedometer are an excellent touch, perfect for avoiding any embarrassing nudges of the rev-limiter when driving hard. However, the scatter gun approach to the layout of the cabin and the mismatch between the various digital displays and screens – which are admittedly faults shared with the regular Civic – are disappointing and detract from the otherwise quality feel of the materials and engineering depth of this car.

Sit up front and the excellent chairs mean Honda Civic Type R comfort is superb; there’s plenty of support to keep you composed at speed and for longer journeys there’s enough give in the cushions to eliminate any backache or numb bum syndrome.

We only wish they were mounted 20mm further lower still (they’re currently 20mm lower than the standard car’s ordinary chairs) to take advantage of what would otherwise be a near perfect driving position. The gear knob is closely placed next to the steering wheel, itself featuring thinner spokes for a more comfortable grip and the pedals are perfectly placed for heel and toe gear changes.

But by God this car is firm. Like really firm. That means it stays almost resolutely flat when cornering at speed, which is clearly commendable, but does deteriorate from your comfort when on longer more mundane trips across arrow straight roads. There’re adaptive dampers too, which constantly monitor the car’s movements and adjust the oil channels within to subtly change the damping response. This eliminates dive and pitch under hard braking and accelerating, as well as ensuring a level body during extreme crosswinds for example.

They just don’t soften off to the point of comfort. Of course part of the problem could be the 19-inch alloy wheels, which run narrow sidewalled 235/35R19 rubber.

You can make it 30 percent stiffer if the masochist mood takes you, by pressing the +R button to the right of the steering wheel. Designed single-mindedly with the Nurburgring in the engineers’ thought processes, the firm does concede while the increase in stiffness helped around the Green Hell, it’s not much benefit anywhere else – even another race circuit. Certainly on our test we managed to have it engaged on the road for mere seconds, not minutes, before reverting back to ‘normal’ mode and even on track it felt decidedly firm.

One thing we do wish was switchable is the exhaust, which feels loud under hard acceleration and constantly droning at a considered cruise. A long journey with the dual tailpipes blaring away will be enough to see occupants reaching for the upper echelons of the stereo’s volume control.