Honda Civic Type R 2007 review

Not as visually stunning as the European counterpart, but this Type R is superior in almost every other way

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

As you might expect, Honda’s engineers have saved their best-ever Civic Type R for Japan. Its four-door body doesn’t provide the same visual impact as European hatchback versions, but this performance four-door is superior in virtually every way. The engine is noticeably stronger and both the ride and the handling are also much better. Maybe Honda should consider adding the 222bhp four-door to the UK line-up, too...

You wait an age for a hyper-power Civic Type R, then two come along at once! In Issue 957 we drove the most extreme, 260bhp version of Honda’s hot hatchback, the Type R – but with its Porsche 911 price tag, it will be enjoyed by precious few.

However, here’s a Type R that’s more powerful than the UK variant and is far cheaper, too. The Japanese-spec high-performance Civic delivers 222bhp – and we’ve already put it to the test at Honda’s spiritual home, the famous Suzuka Circuit.

Developed for Japanese drivers, the Type R enjoys little of its British brother’s charisma. The car only comes as a saloon, and it appears a touch clumsy, with a front spoiler, rear wing and underbody diffuser. To UK Civic fans, this hot model looks like the hybrid Civic IMA with a bodykit.

While both Type Rs tip the scales at 1,270kg, all the major components of the Japanese-spec car have been tweaked. Everything from the engine to the suspension has been changed to make this the quickest front-wheel-drive production Type R ever.

The UK’s range-topping Civic uses the same basic engine as the Civic Si sold in America, but the Japanese Type R has inherited a tuned version of the Accord’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder powerplant. This naturally aspirated i-VTEC unit generates a maximum 222bhp at 8,000rpm and 215Nm of torque at 6,100rpm. The Honda really gets into its stride at 5,800rpm, and happily roars to its 8,400rpm red line.

Combine the superbly responsive drive-by-wire throttle with a closely spaced six-speed gearbox and you can be in the right gear, at the right revs, at all times. A limited-slip differential, absent from the European Type R, sends more torque to the outer wheel in a corner, maintaining maximum levels of traction.

Another welcome revision is the use of double-wishbone rear suspension, improving ride quality and handling. This is in addition to a 50 per cent boost in body rigidity. As a result, the four-door Type R is a joy to drive. Its ride is firm but comfortable, and turn-in is exquisite, with heaps of grip and the nose never pushing wide. The brakes are superb, too: huge four-piston Brembo calipers grab big discs to easily slow you from any speed.

What’s more, the current exchange rate makes this Type R sound ridiculously cheap – the £11,900 price tag undercuts the inferior UK model by a massive £5,715. With limited sales of only 400 a month in Japan, one thing’s for sure: it might not look as cool as its British sibling, but it’s set to be even more desirable.

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