So we got a 2010 Honda Civic Type-R
There are only a few tested cars that we’ve ever marked as major events in the history of this feeble website. There was the Nissan GT-R. There was the Bentley Continental GT. And this weekend, there was the Honda Civic Type-R, a car as overrated as this website, and yet so legendary. We indulge in making fun of Honda fanboys all the time, but this is one car that almost turned us into Honda fanboys.
Supercars are overpriced paperweights, but the Type-R is within reach of anyone who would want one, and properly drive one. We are among the first people to test it in the GCC, so we even created two events around it, one a DriveArabia MyRide members gathering and the other an elaborate video shoot on desert roads.
The latest British-built hatchback may not be the best ever car to wear the Type-R badge, but it certainly has the best street appeal simply due to its extremely unique exterior styling. A VW Golf GTI looks like a muffin in comparison.
Stylistic touches include spaceship door handles, triangular exhaust cutouts, full-length tail-light strip and 18-inch wheels.
But the real looker comes in the form of the two-piece rear glass bisected by a rear spoiler, clearly inspired by the original 1980s Civic CR-X. No rear wiper though.
The dashboard is as weird as the exterior. Almost every living person in this country has been in the current Civic sedan at one time or another, and the interior in the hatchback is similar, yet different. The two-tier gauges are certainly there, as annoying as ever, but there is also an extra screen towards the right, for stereo and a/c readouts. There is another screen in the middle of the big central tachometer. And being a 6-speed manual with a rev-happy engine, there is a row of little lights, next to the digital speedo, that acts as a countdown to tell the driver when to shift.
Ten years ago, Honda was possibly the first carmaker to add a starter button in a production car. That car was the S2000, with a crude system that involved putting in the key, turning it, and then pressing the red button to start. Starter buttons have evolved since then, with full keyless systems in cars as pathetic as the Ford Focus. And yet, the Type-R has the same old system as the S2000. Additionally, the dash and door trim is firmer than in the Japanese-built Civic sedan, which is to say, not a good thing. But the red cloth and floor-mat bits are cool, as are the aluminium pedals and door sills.
As if the car isn’t quirky enough, the passenger controls for the dual-zone a/c are on the right-side door armrest, although the driver’s one is still on the dash centre console.
Standard are some of the raciest seats ever in a road car. The side-bolsters are so high that it is a chore to climb out of them, but these chairs will make any racer-wannabe jealous. They are manually adjustable every which way, just like the steering wheel.
Rear legroom is very limited, but adults can just about fit, with adequate headroom. The accommodations back there are nicely trimmed with cloth along the sides. Access is somewhat manageable due to the tall height of the car, although the seat does not go back to its original seat-back position, ridiculously enough.
Luggage space is decent, and about as much as can be expected from a hatchback. A useful cargo net can hold down small items. There is a space-saver spare underneath.
The Honda Civic Type-R has a coolness factor that is hard to ignore. Random people were walking around it and others were taking camera-phone pictures of it. During our road test, the car did not match our performance expectations at all, but we still loved the car. It will never win any races, but it is just so much damn fun to drive that we could picture ourselves buying one of these sometime in the far future. More in the upcoming full review.