I ntotal of 58,805 kilometers and 28 different drivers in exactly 528 days - the logbook reveals the hardships the long-term editorial guest had to endure. Long motorway journeys, a leisurely jerk in city traffic or hot laps on the Nordschleife - the test program for the Honda Civic Type R was extremely extensive.
The top model rolls into the endurance test vehicle fleet for the sport auto endurance test. Under the bonnet of the compact Japanese, a four-cylinder in-line engine with variable valve control and 201 horses drummed up to attack the sporty competition à la Golf GTI. The first impressions speak a different language: 'The engine is an air pump' is a subjective entry in the logbook of the newcomer. The fact is: the Honda engine craves speed and only reaches its maximum torque of 193 Newton meters at 5,600 rpm. From 5,400 rpm a yellow light flashes in the instrument cluster and reveals that the camshafts are now raging in a sharp watch-out position and with longer valve opening times. Five shift lights later, the maximum speed of 8,400 revolutions is on - the screeching two-liter vacuum cleaner demands the next gear shift.
The Honda Civic is not for shift lazy
Only the shifting operations of the six-speed gearbox with short shift travel interrupt the speed orgy. While the transmission impresses with precise lane guidance in the first four gears, the accuracy of the fifth stage is not perfect. However, not changing gears is not a solution either. The Civic is not for those who are lazy about shifting gear and who enjoy a leisurely pace. Whatever the speed - the pithy voice of the two-liter teat is unmistakable at all times. The strong thirst of the two-liter engine provides less enthusiasm than the sporty sound. Anyone who regularly exhausts all six gears up to maximum speed will be in for a nasty surprise at the gas station. The maximum consumption of almost 30 liters of Super Plus per 100 kilometers is no longer appropriate, even with an extremely ambitious driving style.
'Tank too small', noted the driver of the maximum consumption when he had to roll back to the petrol pump after 143 kilometers. In the Type R, even a normal tank volume of 50 liters quickly turns into a puddle. On average, the compact sports car slurped 11.5 liters per 100 kilometers. Even if the Civic with the abbreviation 'R' and18-inch alloy wheels, angular aprons and twin-pipe exhaust system on the rear of the diffuser slips into a sports outfit, the driving dynamics values are in no way compared to the high fuel consumption.
Hockenheim lap time of 1.21.2 minutes
With a lap time of 1.21.2 minutes on the small circuit in Hockenheim, the Honda is behind the Golf GTI of the fifth (1.20.8 minutes) and the current, sixth generation (1.19.8 minutes). In the elasticity test, the Civic also has to let the compact sports legend from Wolfsburg go. Civic Type R drivers should therefore carefully consider whether they want to provoke a GTI driver to overtake on the country road. In the sprint to 100 km /h, the 1,340-kilogram Type R endurance test car remains well behind the factory specification of 6.6 seconds. The Civic needs 7.3 seconds at the end of the test, which is 0.3 seconds faster than 17 months earlier when the endurance test started.
Does the optically trimmed compact with these values still pass like its predecessor as the fun car with racing ambitions? No - the current Civic cannot hide 94 kilograms more weight and has to let the racing roll of yore go. The slender predecessor, for example, ran three tenths of a second faster at country road speed and over the finish line in Hockenheim (see sport auto-Supertest, 11/2001). Anyone who plans to visit the racetrack more often should think about upgrading the standard brake system with internally ventilated disks at the front (diameter 300 millimeters) and disks at the rear (260 millimeters). Especially on the Nordschleife, the first signs of fatigue appear after a few laps. Despite good responsiveness and good controllability, the brake system tended to fade during the brake measurement. The sporty Civic stopped after the tenth full braking from 100 km /h only after 38.3 meters. The ABS control range also kicks in too early on bumps.
The electric rack and pinion power steering, which implements steering commands spontaneously and directly, but not nervously, demonstrated significantly more sporting spirit. Even at the top speed of 235 km /h, the Type R impresses with good straight-line stability. The tight chassis tuning prevents rolling and vertical movements almost completely. Rumble or stuck? Not in the Type R. Thanks to the body structure reinforced with cross struts, the sporty compact rolls extremely stable. 'Dampers hit transverse joints at high speed' was the only complaint in the logbook in the chassis chapter. Despite the sporty setup, the Civic swallows a surprising number of bumps and also offers decent long-distance comfort.
Great sports seats with good lateral support
The opinion of the test drivers about the seating in the Civic was unanimous - 'great sports seats with good lateral support'.However, tall people bothers the sitting position too high. In addition, the chairs do not lock into the starting position after being folded forward and must be readjusted each time. And what else does the Civic interior look like? The futuristic spaceship appearance of the bodywork is consistently continued in the interior. Nevertheless, pragmatists also enjoy it. The Asian sports guy scores with a pleasant feeling of space and plenty of space, even in the second row. The instrument panel, however, is less convincing. Despite the vertical and horizontal steering wheel adjustment, tall drivers complain about the inappropriately placed digital speedometer that is covered by the steering wheel rim. The scattered control elements require a familiarization phase upon first contact.
The Honda developers have succeeded better in processing the interior. All materials look valuable and well processed. Even after almost 60,000 kilometers, signs of use are in short supply. In addition to the racing shells, a start button, aluminum pedals and the aluminum gear knob in golf ball size exude a sporty flair. The latter, however, caused criticism in extreme outside temperatures because it heats up a lot in summer and causes frostbite on the switch hand in winter.
No surprises with the Honda Civic Type R
And the moral of the story? As a long-term test candidate, the Honda Civic Type R always proved to be a reliable companion. After 3,661 kilometers, the mechanics exchanged the instrument cluster due to an electronic defect under warranty. At 39,930 kilometers, we went back to the lifting platform outside of the service intervals. The rear brake discs and pads had to be changed due to increased wear. There were no other unscheduled pit stops. The Type R avoids unscheduled visits to the workshop as consistently as the Japanese knife and fork.
What we noticed with the Honda Civic Type R:
Good price-performance ratio: Xenon light, parking aid and cruise control - With a base price of 28,290 euros, the Type R offers numerous extras that cost more than comparable compact models. Only the metallic paintwork (480 euros) and the DVD navigation system with 7-inch monitor (2,700 euros) have to be paid extra.
Convincing workmanship: The current Civic is opposite clearly matured to its predecessor. Especially in the interior, it impresses with well-processed and valuable materials. Even after around 60,000 kilometers, the seats and all plastic parts showed almost no signs of wear.
Tank capacity and consumption do not match: 50 liters fit into the tank of the Type R. With brisk driving style and With an average consumption of 11.5 liters of Super Plus per 100 kilometers, you have to look for a fuel pump after around 400 kilometers. Especially onlong distances you lose so much time.
Good space and pleasant variability: With a capacity of 456 liters, the Civic offers a larger trunk than its competitor Golf GTI (350 liters). If you need even more space in the rear, you can easily fold the rear bench seat forward with one hand movement.