2010 Honda Civic Type R | road test

Posted on Apr 27, 2010 by
A red Honda badge and a mesh grille mark the Civic Type R out as something special

A red badge and a mesh grille mark the Civic out as something special

AT A GLANCE

FOR

  • Awesome engine
  • Great handling
  • Funky looks

AGAINST

  • No automatic option
  • Harsh ride
  • Poor rear visibility

SUMMARY

The Type R is the performance  incarnation of the Civic that’s recently been introduced in the Middle East after a successful few years in Europe. With a 198bhp, high-revving engine, stiff suspension and futuristic good looks, it’s a proper hot hatch and represents a challenge to the dominance of the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Although the interior feels a bit cheap and there’s no automatic gearbox option, it’s fantastic fun to drive and, with spacious back seats and a decent size boot, has a practical element as well. Thumbs up from us.

The rear spoiler looks cool but restricts rear visibility

The rear spoiler looks cool but restricts rear visibility

PERFORMANCE

The 2.0-litre VTEC engine housed under the Type R’s bonnet is an absolute classic and deserves its place in the performance hatchback hall of fame. It’s fizzy, quick to respond on the throttle and generally wonderful.

The VTEC is a special kind of engine that uses two camshaft profiles to increase power at both high and low revs. Honda is particularly noted for its use of this technology and put simply, it means that the when the Type R reaches 5,400rpm, the engine suddenly finds more power and keeps pulling right up until 8,000rpm. It’s intoxicating and encourages the driver to really rev the nuts (and bolts) off the car, which is both antisocial and very bad for fuel economy, but damn good fun.

The Type R’s main problem for the Middle East market is that it comes only with a manual gearbox. For the driving enthusiasts at whom it is aimed, this is good news – for sheer involvement and driving pleasure, nothing beats a clutch and gearstick – but it makes the car something of a niche product and if you plan on using it everyday, you should consider the implications. However, the manual ‘box is an excellent one, with a chunky, satisfying throw and it makes the car very easy to drive.

The Civic hatchback's unusual shape still looks fresh

The Civic hatchback's unusual shape still looks fresh

HANDLING AND RIDE

The Type R’s very stiff chassis makes for excellent dynamic handling, with the car staying level and balanced around the corners. There’s plenty of feedback from the tyres through the steering wheel, which is a perfect size and shape.

At the time of writing we’d yet to try the Type R’s main rival, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, so we can’t tell you which is better, but rest assured, the Civic is very good fun to drive.

The suspension is very stiff, which is great for flinging the car about on smooth roads, but it does make the ride very firm and crashy on uneven surfaces. You’ll feel every bump in the road and speed bumps can prove spine shattering if you take them too fast.

The bucket seats look awesome and are comfortable too

The bucket seats look awesome and are comfortable too

COMFORT

The Type R comes with fabric and Alcantara-covered bucket seats not found in other models of Civic, and for performance fans, they’re great – very comfortable with lots of lateral support to keep you in place when cornering hard. They adjust up, down, back and forward, but they don’t go as low as we’d like. We felt like we were sitting rather high in the car when in a performance machine it’s best to be as close to the floor pan as possible.

The interior design of the Civic hatch was quite radical when it appeared in Europe a few years back and it still looks good now, with a dual level dash, central tachometer and digital speedometer. A separate screen gives the driver information about the stereo, air conditioning and suchlike.

The plastics used aren’t soft touch, which is a shame these days, but they do feel solid and well-put together, if a bit cheap. Overall it’s really nice inside, save for one quibble – there’s a starter button to fire up the engine, but you still need to put the key in the ignition and turn it. What’s the point? Starter buttons are meant to make life easier by letting you keep the key in your pocket, not add an extra step to getting going.

Manual gearbox only for the Type R. Note the serial number embossed on aluminium, for that special edition feel

Manual gearbox only for the Type R. Note the serial number embossed on aluminium, for that special edition feel

PRACTICALITY

The Type R is only available in three-door form, but the front seats fold forward and there’s room in the back for adults – only two though, there’s no middle seat.

Due to the exterior design, visibility in the back half of the car is pretty poor. Smaller kids in the back won’t be able to see much out of the windows and visibility while driving is limited, not least because of the spoiler that bisects the rear windscreen. The rear-most C pillars are also very thick, so take care while manoeuvring.

There’s plenty of storage space in the front, with door pockets that will easily take a drinks bottle. There’s a compartment within the dashboard above the gearstick, a covered space in the centre console with a divider that allows it to act as a cup holders and plenty of space for CDs and suchlike under the centre armrest.

The boot is a good size at 485 litres and the rear seats fold down to give extra space if you need to transport anything larger. If you’re of smaller stature, be aware that the boot lid is quite heavy.

Interior looks great, but plastics feel a bit cheap

Interior looks great, but plastics feel a bit cheap

FEATURES

The Type R’s main selling points are its engine and driving dynamics, so don’t expect a particularly feature-heavy machine. That said, it does come with dual zone air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-CD changer and a trip computer. The stereo has USB and auxiliary inputs for MP3 players. Full power features and cruise control are also standard.

On the outside, being a sporty version of the Civic hatch it has a mesh front grille and 18-inch alloys to distinguish itself, as well as a body kit that gives it a very sharp look. Rear parking sensors are standard – a useful feature, given the poor visibility out of the back.

SAFETY

The Civic Type R includes ABS and VSA (electronic stability control) as standard. Front, side and curtain airbags are also included, as are ISOFIX child seat fixings in the back.

The Civic hatchback, upon which the Type R is based, scored the maximum five stars in the European EuroNCAP crash testing programme.

Aluminium pedals make for a sporty look

Aluminium pedals make for a sporty look

COSTS

The Civic Type R costs 114,999AED, which is just 1,000AED less than its main rival, the Volkswagen Golf GTI. As mentioned, we’d yet to try the hot Golf at the time of asking, so we’ll reserve our judgement on the comparison. Driving fans might also note that for a very similar price you could pick up a Hyundai Genesis Coupe. It’s not as practical, but with rear-wheel drive and 100bhp more than the Civic, it’s still worth a look.

With a combined fuel economy of 9.1 litre per 100km, the Type R has a theoretical range of about 550km from its 50-litre fuel tank. As is always the case with sports cars though, if you drive it in the way it’s meant to be driven, expect the range to drop significantly.

Honda offers a three-year, 100,000km warranty on the Type R. Major services are due every 20,000km and will cost between 830AED and 935AED at the time of writing, depending on the mileage.

2010 Type R

Engine: 2.0-litre, four cylinder
Max power (bhp/rpm): 198/7,800
Max torque (Nm/rpm): 192/5,600
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Driven wheels: Front wheel drive
Kerb weight: 1,350
Price (AED): 114,999

2 Responses to 2010 Honda Civic Type R | road test

  1. George Reply

    July 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Phill, I am not sure how special Id feel in a car where the embossed serial numbers can read upto 99999.

    • Kman Reply

      May 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      I guees the feeilg significantly improves when you push the start button.
       

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