The entire cockpit feels compelling with its suede-wrapped steering wheel, red seatbelts and pinstripe dash inlays, touches of faux carbon fibre trim, teardrop (instead of a ball) style gear knob and low-slung figure-hugging front seats.
In response to customer feedback, Honda has revised the infotainment and climate controls by adding physical buttons and dials across the Civic range rather than opt for more touchscreen controls.
The plush centre console features a piano-black finish. The lower part facing the gear lever is configured as a useful two-tier storage area, with a front tray to store devices and wirelessly charge your smartphone. A second tray behind the centre console provides a more discreet storage area, as well as access to the HDMI and USB ports plus a 12-volt power socket. A cable pass-through enables a connection from the second tray to the first.
At the top of the centre console sits the seven-inch Honda Connect touchscreen which also displays images from the reversing camera and provides mirroring with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The reconfigurable instrument cluster makes up the largest central section of the instrument binnacle. Unique to the Type R is a driving mode-specific illumination function that features specialised readouts, including an LED gearshift indicator light, boost pressure gauge, G-Meter and lap time recorder.
Scroll and select functions for the cluster are performed via thumbpad controls on the left spoke of the steering wheel. Also on the left spoke are the integrated Bluetooth HandsFreeLink telephone controls, while a thumbpad on the right spoke of the steering wheel operates the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist system settings.
The GT boot provides 420 litres of cargo space and is covered with a novel side-sliding and removable compact tonneau cover. Flip forward the 60/40 rear seatbacks and the luggage space increases to 1,209-litres from floor to headliner.
Other driver comfort and convenience features on the GT include a centre console with sliding armrest and storage, power-folding and heated wing mirrors and dual-zone climate control. Optional extras include carbon mirror caps (£610), carbon wing spoiler (£2,045), carbon interior panels (£1,300) and illuminated door sill trims (£430).
A performance data logger, known as Honda LogR, combines the Type R’s onboard computer and sensors with a smartphone app to help drivers monitor and record (via an app) a variety of performance parameters. It also helps improve their driving skills through the use of a driving-smoothness algorithm. The system is offered on the GT and Sport Line models.
The unibody platform of the tenth generation Civic means that the Type R’s body frame is 16kg lighter than the previous model, with a torsional stiffness improvement of 37% and a static bending rigidity improvement of 45%. The Type R’s fuel tank has also been relocated and the car’s floor is lower than that of the outgoing model. Combined with the revisions to the chassis and suspension, the latest model’s centre of gravity is 10mm lower. These changes also allow the driving position to be set nearer to the road, with a hip point 25mm lower than its predecessor, giving a sportier feel. For the driver, a more compact dashboard upper surface means it sits 65mm lower, resulting in improved forward visibility. The relatively thin A-pillars (12mm narrower than the previous Type R) also enhance visibility.
Last year, Honda added two variants to the Civic Type R range with the Limited Edition and Sport Line. The Limited Edition is reckoned to be the most extreme version of Type R to date. It is built for on-track performance, with new lightweight components and a stripped-back interior both of which contribute to a 47kg weight reduction, plus enhanced driving dynamics and styling. The second addition to the Type R range is the Sport Line that features a low-deck rear spoiler instead of the standard high-level wing, 19-inch alloy wheels and a black interior.
Advanced driver assistance systems
In the ADAS department, every Civic – including the three hot hatch variants – features the Honda Sensing suite of safety technologies. The suite of active safety technologies includes collision mitigation braking system; forward-collision warning; lane departure warning; road departure mitigation; lane-keeping assist system; intelligent adaptive cruise control; traffic sign recognition; intelligent speed assistance; and cross-traffic alert.
Rear visibility is a little pinched due to the coupe-like rear styling and tea-tray spoiler, although the reversing camera image projected onto the centre console screen plus parking sensors helped to avoid any bumps and scrapes in this Bobby dazzler.
Also fitted as standard are variable stability assist with traction control, which enhances control capability while the vehicle is accelerating, braking, cornering, plus a tyre pressure monitoring system. The GT and Sport Line models are fitted with blind-spot monitoring information, including cross traffic monitor, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Garmin sat-nav, wireless charging pad, and a punchy 11-speaker audio system.
On the road
Cruising around in a bright red Type R does not fail to turn heads. Out and about driving the 2.0-litre turbo certainly sets pulses racing, accelerating on a dry summer day from zero to 60mph in a heartbeat with shockingly good Brembo braking performance. Three tailpipes are positioned in the centre of the rear diffuser. The exhaust delivers an exhaust note with an aggressive tone, with the addition of Active Sound Control (ASC). The latter features individual settings for the Type R’s Sport, +R and Comfort driving modes. It works to enhance the engine sound during aggressive driving in Sport and +R modes and refines it in Comfort mode during acceleration.
While its bold appearance may divide opinion, the Type R is packed with useful technology as standard. It is fun to drive yet comfortable and practical to live with on a day-to-day basis. Above all, it has the interior feel and quality that we have come to expect from Honda. Rival models in the hot hatch camp include the Renault Megane RS, VW Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST.