Honda Civic Type R View Engine
Honda Civic Type R View Interiors
Honda Civic Type R
The thing I loved about the Honda was that the standard Civic was so boring to look at and drive that you seemingly needed at least 65 years of life experience before being able to own one. Don't get me wrong, just because it was boring to drive doesn't mean it wasn't a good car, it was just very safe and sensible and, well it was for old people. The Type R badge didn't just add a few thousand pounds to the price tag; it transformed the retirement home company car into a snarling piece of motoring exotica that I aspired to own one day if I studied hard.
I'd struggle to win the argument that it looks much different from the standard model, with 17 inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and twin exit exhaust the only obvious external differences. This however was more than enough for me to start salivating and by the time I read the performance figures I needed oxygen. A 2 litre VTEC engine lurked under the bonnet producing 197bhp, revving to a crazy 8,250rpm and dragging the car from 0-60mph in a mere 6.6 seconds. To put it more succinctly, it was as if Honda had strapped a rocket to a mobility scooter.
Inside you weren't met with the most luxurious cabin but racing seats, white dials and a brushed aluminium gear knob offered further evidence that speed really was the only priority for this car. The gearbox is mounted on the dashboard which appears odd at first but it falls so easily to hand and changes so slickly, you'll be converted in minutes. Despite it being front wheel drive, the car handled superbly thanks in no small measure to it's expensive independent rear suspension (something Honda have skimped on with the latest derivative) and communicative feedback through the steering wheel.
Quite rightly in the little Honda's lifespan (2001 - 2006) it became the biggest selling fast hatchback, smashing all modest targets Honda HQ in Japan had. Priced at a tad under £16,000 and delivering all you could want in a driving experience, this was hardly a surprise.
The big question then is, three years on from graduating from university do I have a Honda Civic Type R on my driveway? Um, no but my 'I really want one of those' radar is still twitching very strongly. The very exciting news however is that prices are now reaching a level where this extraordinary car is accessible to the majority - and very possibly me too. A low mileage four-year-old car is now valued at £8,000 (add £400 for air conditioning).
This being a Honda, there should be very little to worry about with a car of this age, the VTEC engine is one of the most reliable in the world and the car itself is well put together, so don't expect to find doors hanging off. As with any used car though it's important to check some key points.
Firstly the car was available in red, black and silver. If the one you're looking at is white it's an import from Japan which may have an extra 20bhp but will be difficult to insure, will depreciate quickly and will have your Honda dealer running for the horizon. The turning circle isn't great on the Type R so check the alloy wheels for signs of a struggle against the kerbs and whilst you're there, have a look at the side skirts for speed hump damage.
Other than that the Type R is as widely praised now as it was when new and with the new model now on sale this version should become more readily available. As a final plus point (if one was needed) it's faster and handles better than the new model. Right I can't wait any longer...I'm off to buy one.