Product Type: Honda cars
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Experience the VTEC. This car's a monster.
Honda Civic R-Type
Member Name: leatherpatches
Honda Civic R-Type
Date: 04/05/03, updated on 11/05/07 (22211 review reads)
Disadvantages: Insurance (group 17)
Well I've just exchanged this wonderful vehincle after 4 years of ownership and I thought I'd better update this record.
The car had a few problems in it's first year with uneven tyre wear on the rear tyres, which required the dealers to change the arms on the back wheels for longer ones. This was a well known fault with this model of Type R but took the dealer rather longer than I would have liked to sort it out. Apart from this minor hickup I have had nothing else go wrong... at all. Testimony to Honda's legendary build quality.
The car remained very quick, even compared to more contemporary competition. I often bemoaned the lack of air conditioning and this reduced it's re-sell value quite considerably, as did the appearance of the new shape type R in 2007 (slower than the one I just sold, may I add).
However, I had a baby - well my wife did! I spent 4 weeks trying to pursuade myself as well as her that the Type R was practical with a small child, but it simply wasn't. The lack of back doors was an issue, and the expense of running the vehicle became too much. Some comparisons to the 130bhp TDi Golf Estate that has replaced it:
Value: sold Type R with 65k miles for £6.5k Bought Golf with 63k miles for £8.5k
Insurance: Type R - £950pa Golf - £334pa
Tyres: Type R - £120 per corner Golf - £50 per corner
Tax: Type R - £180pa Golf - £110pa
FUEL!!!!: Type R - 22-25mpg Golf 45-55mpg
However, there is less room in the back seats of the Golf , but more in the boot, of course with it being an estate.
I am missing the speed and qudos of the Type R quite a lot, although I've found hassle from other drivers on the road is much less in the Golf - you're practically invisible.
Would I still recommend this vehicle after four years of driving? Without a doubt, providing you're not transporting a small baby or short of a penny or to to run it and cope with the depreciation.
***Start update 17 May 2003***
I have now owned the Type R for just over a week and covered 832 miles. I can safely say I have never smiled so much! I ran the engine in under 5k revs for 200 miles and took it easy on the brakes whilst they bedded in. After this I kept the revs down mostly and varied my driving style up to 600 miles. I noticed the engine was getting looser and after 600 miles started to open it up.
This car is phenomenal! It behaves fairly decently up to 6000 rpm, where most engines would require a gear change. It certainly sounds as if the Civic needs changing up at this point as well, and it takes some willpower to drive through this if you haven't owned the car long. However, at just over 6k there is a slight pause and then the VTEC kicks in. The extra overhead CAM (I think) comes into play and the car shoots away, screaming like a banshee and the revs move quickly towards the redline at 8k. The car hurtles forward at a truly breakneck pace - lots and lots of fun! Keeping the car in the VTEC zone drinks fuel, but makes for very rapid driving. Luckily the chassis and steering both respond well and the car remains glued to the road. Corners that were previously only possible at 40mph can now be safely taken accelerating at 70mph.
I never race on the roads, but an incident on Thursday, which I will recount, nearly gave me a taste for it. I must stress that at no point did I break any speed limits in the area or endanger anybody in any way:
"Driving home from work last night I was coming up to some traffic lights around roadworks at a junction in the bottom of a valley. Straight-on is up to the town and right is up (very steep hill) towards Asda. I really fancied a kebab (sober - don't ask me why ) and was intending to drive straight on into town. However, a Focus ST170 flew up behind me as I was stopping and tried to block me from pulling out for the lights. He was indicating
right up the two-lane hill towards Asda, so I quickly changed my mind and decided to go that way and make my own bloody healthy dinner.
We both turned and I could see he was itching to get passed (I drive sensibly in 50mph zones). I deliberately held to 40mph and sure enough he screamed up behind me, pulling out at the last minute before nearly clipping my bumper driver's side (why do people do that?). I pushed slightly harder on the accelerator, expecting to gain on him easily (I've read the figures!).
I was gutted when he carried on pulling up the hill and gaining on me. His rear bumper was about level with my front and I started thinking, "So much for quick car!". I glanced down at my rev-counter, which was reading about 5.5k rpm. Thinking I had lost it and would look silly (it was obvious I had accelerated), I dropped from fourth to third.
Sh*t! The revs hit 7k and the VTEC kicked in, hammering me back against the seat. Although I have done this before, it has only been with 3 or 4 other people in the car and the engine felt a bit tight from new. There was a pronounced surge and I gave myself a bit of a fright. However I was grinning as I FLEW past the Focus on the inside (not to be recommended!).
Needless to say he couldn't get anywhere near as I pulled hard up the hill, moving to fourth and keeping the revs up. Didn't stop him flashing his lights and making rude gestures in the rear-view."
I have been filling up to the brim with various different fuels and working out fuel economy when refilling again. A tank costs about £30 (£34 with Optimax) and has taken me: 240 miles, 260 miles and the latest tank still has a quarter left at 220 miles so looks good for 280+. The economy has been 28mpg+ and is getting better with every tank (even with some fairly robust driving!), which on a brand new performance engine seems excellent to me. In addition, it seems as good on regu
lar 95 RON unleaded as it does on Super 97 RON or Optimax (98 RON). This is a great feature of the car and I have not noticed any difference in performance whatsoever from using regular unleaded.
The car seems very well constructed, inside and out. A single niggle that can be sorted by the dealer is a slightly leaking windscreen nozzle on the bonnet. The car suffers from a slight drift to the right on motorways, but apparently Honda are aware of this and can make a simple adjustment to correct. I will take it in for this when it starts bothering me. But, to be honest, the thought of being without this superb vehicle for even a couple of days is dreadful. Sad, I know!
I've sent of the forms for my MAC police driver training course. Will update again after.
I made the mistake of test-driving a Honda Civic Type 'R' in my holiday out of interest. I take delivery of my new, silver (they're the fastest colour) 197bhp baby on Friday... I'll add to this review when I am past the breaking-in 600 miles, but in the meantime I'll tell you what led to my decision:
After a visit to the Birmingham Motor Show last year, my friend Rob bought a Renault Clio Sport 172. Driving this after my 306 Dturbo diesel workhorse was a real wakeup call. The car had great acceleration, handling was confident, if not inspiring and the steering was sharp and communicative. Even the traction control did not ruin the ride, but it was almost essential. Turning it off left the car seriously wanting around corners. For £14.5k this was a lot of car for the money.
Shortly after this another friend decided to upgrade his Mini Cooper to a Cooper 'S' with 163bhp and a supercharged engine. He was raving about this after test driving several times, so I took one for a spin. Whilst not being quite as fast as the Clio, it was better put together and lots of fun. I
discussed purchase with the BMW garage and they offered me a generous £3.5k for my R-plate 306. The catch with the minis is that to preserve the excellent resale values, you must have certain extras such as their 'Chilli Pack', turning the car into a £17k purchase. This is a lot of money for a car that only just fits children in the back seat.
I made my mind up to try the Civic Type 'R' and rang the dealership to enquire about a test drive. I am 28 and have heard of several people who have either been refused test drives altogether (under 25) or have had the dealer accompany them. I was surprised when the salesperson I spoke to, Nick, asked me how old I was and then replied, "You'll be out on your own then."
When I arrived at the garage, they took one look at me (jeans, trainers and I look about 23
) and then checked twice with Nick that he had promised me a solo test! But 10 minutes and a photocopied (clean) driving license later and I was pulling away from the main gates of the dealership.
Before I describe the two hours of pleasure that followed, I?d better say something about the car:
Often described as being a cross between a hatchback and an MPV, the Honda Civic can often be found snoozing along country lanes, driven by OAPs and holding up tractors. The styling is modern, but conservative, with a high rear-end and long sloping bonnet merging into a similar huge windscreen. The rear pillars are very wide, which makes reversing and parking a bit hit-and-miss and the gear stick protrudes from the dashboard, rather than rising from the floor. Boot space is adequate and room in the front and back of the cars is similar to my 306 - small family. Headroom is considerably more than in most hatchback cars, due to the high roofline and controls are typically Japanese - sturdy but not luxurious.
Honda have built an awesome reputation for engines and the new civic range, whist only ha
ving about 2 years track record so far, looks set to continue that enviable standard. I am told Honda have made the VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) for 11 years and never had a single engine fail. The civic range starts with the 1.4 (which I was lent while they valued my car - struggled up hills) and goes up through the new 2.0 'Sport' to the range-topping Type 'R'. The CTR, as the Civic Type 'R' owners forums call them has a 16 valve DOHC i-VTEC engine, which means intelligent VTEC. This is an improved version of the 1.8 and 2.2 VTEC engines that graced the Integra and Accord Type 'R' badges respectively. It is 1998cc and develops a maximum power of 200ps or 197bhp and 7400rpm. The maximum torque at 196Nm is not huge, but the high revving engine is smooth and incredibly responsive. The car i
s front-wheel drive with a close ratio 6 speed gearbox. Front discs are ventilated and rear discs solid. The only driver aids are ABS and 4-wheel Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). There is none of the traction control or limited slip differential that appears in other hot hatches, including the Focus RS. Wheels are 17?, 7 spoke alloys as standard, with rubber band Bridgestone Potenza tyres fitted from new.
Honda?s performance figures suggest a 0-60mph/max speed of 6.4s/147mph. To compare, the Clio has 7.2s/136mph, the Clio Cup (stripped out version) 6.7s/138mph, the Cooper 'S' 7.6s/133mph and the Focus RS 6.4s/---. Fuel consumption is very reasonable for a performance car, quoting a combined figure of 32mpg and extra-urban figure of 40mpg (you don't want to know the urban figure!). The suspension follows in the Type 'R' racing tradition and has been reinforced and stiffened to such an extent that the ride is very firm indeed. The steering is power assisted and if anything is the weakest part of the car, in my opinion. Sometimes communication to the driver is a bit masked
, but not hard to get used to.
The car is only available in three colours - Milano Red, Silver and Nighthawk Black. It costs £15995 for red and £16225 for silver or black, which the dealers think holds its retail value slightly better. Every new Type 'R' sold through Honda comes with a year's tax and a police driver instruction day (MAC course) worth £300. I was expecting insurance to be extortionate for this group 17 car, but I have had a quote of £775 fully-comp with replacement car if written of in first year (god forbid) and protected no-claims. I am 28 years old with 5 years no-claims in a middle to high risk area.
Back to the test drive, then:
I pulled away from the gates of the dealership onto a gap in a busy road in first gear with a fair bit of accelerator, which was also my first mistake. The car jumped for
ward like a startled rabbit and shot away, reaching 30mph before I realised I should have changed to second. Luckily the superb handling of the chassis allowed me to turn sharply right without mishap and I continued more carefully ? I would have liked to see Nick the salesperson's face as he watched me jump away!
I progressed at 30mph in third gear for a while and assessed the cabin. The interior is fairly minimalist. An average single CD player graces the dashboard above the gearstick and the racing leather steering wheel obscures the rev-counter and speedo unless it is adjusted to the top of its possible positions. It seems the car is designed for a lower eye level than mine? The two front Recaro seats are great and hold you firmly in place as you put the car through its paces. Electric side mirrors and a rear windscreen wiper are considered luxuries in this car, which has been stripped down to the minimum to decrease weight. Air conditioning is an expensive extra. Having said this, I have been in an Integra type 'R' and the Civic improves significantly on the soundproofing a
nd feels much more substantial. The rear seats offer room for two adults easily and the lack of middle transition tunnel will be welcome to a middle passenger. However, the lack of middle seatbelt will not!
Cruising around town at 30mph and 40mph showed me that the car could be driven sensibly, but only by selecting at least two gears higher than I would in my diesel lump! Pulling away in second made things a lot less frantic at the lights. The string of Saxo VTS and Astra GTE drivers with all their bolt-ons started to annoy me, though. I am not one for boy-racing, and this car seemed to attract the floppy hair brigade trying to impress their 13 year old girlfriends like flies around jam. Having said this, the car also saw many admiring glances from the pavement and prestige cars, which I think I could get used to!
Things really started hott
ing up when I went up the sliproad to the dual carriageway, however. I decided the engine was warm (I had heard that you should try to use
the VTEC when the engine has warmed up - for effect) and dropped from 5th to 4th and 6000rpm. The effect was incredible! Almost immediately I felt like I had been kicked in the back and the car raced frantically to 80mph in very little time at all. Joining the dual carriageway and slowing to the legal limit :) I realised that I had experienced my first 'VTEC'. I was thoroughly impressed and went on to test this out again, and again, and again in all gears and at many different speeds. Each time the effect was the same. I was sold.
People have asked me lots of times if I am okay with a gear stick high up on the dashboard. The answer is, yes, I prefer it. There is much less distance from wheel to stick; which really helps when the close ratios of the first 5 gears on the six speed box have you changing gear often. In all honesty, I didn't even notice it after 10 minutes, although I suspect I had my hand on the knob (cough, cough) m
ost of the time. Gear changing did not get tiring and sixth was a smooth and powerful joy on the dual carriageway.
Before I reluctantly took the car back to the dealers, I experienced a rather strange incident. A 205 1.9GTi cut me up badly as I joined the carriageway for no apparent reason, giving me gestures indicating that I enjoy the art of self-pleasure to extremes? On locking the car (central remote locking, Thatcham cat1 alarm and no passenger lock) back on the forecourt I noticed the huge sticker on the back bumper:
I'll update this review when the 600 mile breaking-in period is over, and then again after I have completed the MAC course. In the meantime, I wonder how can I pass the time till Friday?
Summary: Fast, light and expensive to run - a real young person's dream.