Review: Honda Civic Type R (2007 – 2012)

Rating:

Great steering and handling, futuristic looks. Still practical and spacious inside. Huge fun to drive.

Engine needs to be worked hard. Firm ride and not enjoyable to drive in traffic. Poor fuel economy.

Recently Added To This Review

31 March 2016

Front brake calliper reported as seized on 2009 Honda Civic Type R. Needs new front brake discs, callipers and pads. Possibly due to the way the car had been driven. Read more

3 July 2009

MUGEN EURO Co., Ltd has confirmed the development of a highly-tuned Honda Civic Type R 'MUGEN' concept prototype road car, using the same powertrain as the Civic MUGEN RR saloon launched in 2007 in Japan.... Read more

1 January 2009

From January 2009, just 500 Type Rs in Championship White with white alloy wheels, smoked chrome trim and limited slip diff, priced at £20,140 or £21,540 with satnav. You can feel the diff working... Read more

Honda Civic Type R (2007 – 2012): At A Glance

Not many hot hatchbacks have been awaited as eagerly as this one. The old Civic Type-R had close to cult status. 35,000 were sold worldwide. And punters are passionate. You could make disparaging remarks about a chap's nearest and dearest, but criticise his Type-R and he'd eat your liver with a nice Chianti. Such deification led to deep anxiety that the new Type-R would somehow fail to live up to the old one.

No chance of that. Honda itself is an enthusiastic company, so listens to Honda enthusiasts. And there were, dare I mention, some criticisms of the old car Honda felt it needed to address.

Too raw was one. The power came in too late. The engine wasn't flexible enough. The steering didn't have enough feel. And the ride was between a rock and a hard place.

Then, of course, there's Honda's brave new bodyshape. No other car in the world looks remotely like it. But how would it take to the Type R treatment?

Honda Civic Type R 2007 Road Test

What does a Honda Civic Type R (2007 – 2012) cost?

List Price from £31,550
Buy new from £29,561
Contract hire from £408.52 per month
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Honda Civic Type R (2007 – 2012): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4140–4276 mm
Width 1695–1785 mm
Height 1425–1460 mm
Wheelbase 2570–2635 mm

Full specifications

So it's already a bit like a Touring Car racer. The red button starter comes from the standard Civic, but was itself the idea of old shape Type R enthusiasts who bought the red starter buttons designed for Honda S2000s and fitted them into their cigar lighter apertures. The red and black Alcantara trimmed bucket seats are like racing seats, but comfortable. The gearlever is just as close to your left hand, like a Touring Cars and the tight gate means quick changes.

Child seats that fit a Honda Civic Type R (2007 – 2012)

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What's the Honda Civic Type R (2007 – 2012) like to drive?

The body alone a very good reason for buying the new car. It makes everything else look previous century. Besides that, it's very practical. No hatchback the same size has the same luggage capacity, and certainly no hot hatch has.

But that's not what you want to hear. What you want is the aural pleasure of Honda's 201PS, chain-cam, non-turbo I-VTEC engine reaching 7,950rpm.

And they've been very cleaver with that. Now the valve timing changes at the point of peak torque: 5,600rpm. Then a light on the dashboard helpfully tells you that power is rising sharply from around 130PS to the full 201 at 7,800rpm, no less. Push past that and another red light comes on to tell you you're reaching the limiter.

But the vital question you want answering is how's the handling?

Put it this way, on the day I got to drive the new Type R it snowed. And though the snow thawed through the morning there was always a chance of hitting a patch of slush on your exit from a corner. The steering felt sharper and more informative than I remember it on the old Type R, though. And by the afternoon, copious amounts of salt and sunshine had done their work so we were allowed to drive up the Earl of March's driveway.

After a sighting run I got two drives as quick as I had the bottle for. And discovered the combination of steering and throttle feel is very good indeed. The first two corners are third gear and just got better and better. Less good, the unsighted jink left from the main straight to a narrow bit. Then hook right and left round the flint wall. Then boot it but watch the next right-hander because that's very tricky to take flat. Then as quick as you can to the finish line.

My co-driver learned from my mistakes and proved a much better driver than me, managing a near perfect second run, and hitting 90 twice, which is fairly quick for a gentleman's driveway. And the point was made that the steering, power delivery and handling all come together very well indeed. Better, I think, than the old car, especially in terms of steering feel.

Out on the open road the ride is stiff but not unacceptably so. However, Honda has lowered the final drive ratio slightly, and that means you only get around 20mph per 1,000rpm in 6th. So though the engine is very smooth, don't expect a relaxed high-speed cruise. This is not the sort of car to brave the wrath of the gendamarie and attempt to race to the South of France at 100mph. On the other hand you could see it as a sort of licence protection policy, constantly reminding you that 4,000rpm plus means 3 points if a copper with an LT1 pinpoints you on the motorway.

The price is a nice surprise. Just £17,600 for the standard car we drove. And only £1,000 more for the GT version that comes with extra goodies worth a lot more than £1,000.

I can't recommend the lightweight spare wheel. Honda has gone overboard with its weight-saving, and chucked the spare wheel overboard. All you get is a repair kit that's as much use on a shredded tyre as a tube of Superglue. You can pay extra for a space-saver. But there's so much room in the boot you might as well buy an extra wheel and tyre. And a wheel brace. And a jack.

That's a minor niggle, though. The new Honda Civic Type R started with a much more exciting car than the old Civic. And finished with a better Type R.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
Type R 2.0 i-VTEC 31–32 mpg 6.6 s 212–215 g/km

Real MPG average for a Honda Civic Type R (2007 – 2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

99%

Real MPG

23–38 mpg

MPGs submitted

136

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Honda Civic Type R (2007 – 2012)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Honda Civic Type R - How can I make the ride more comfortable?

In the light of our ever deteriorating roads, would it be possible to fit different suspension components (springs, dampers) to my Civic Type R to make its ride slightly more comfortable without sacrificing road holding and handling too much? I love the car's performance, build quality, reliability and practicality; I would just like it not to have such an unforgiving, harsh ride. I've put up with this for six years and would like to keep the car if possible.
The easiest way is to change the wheels and tyres to the smallest wheel that will fit around the front brakes and the deepest profile tyres that give the same rolling circumference as the originals. You have to disclose the 'modification' to your insurer.
Answered by Honest John
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