Honda Civic Type R

GT

Honda Civic Type R GT, front, action, hill climb
Honda Civic Type R GT, front, hill climb
Honda Civic Type R GT, front, static, hill climb
Honda Civic Type R, lap timer
Honda Civic Type R GT, side, action, hill climb
Honda Civic Type R, dashboard

YOU might not care for statistics. And you may be unconcerned how quickly a hot hatch can buzz around the tortuous Nurburgring track.

But, in case this sort of thing impresses you...a production Honda Type R negotiated the legendary track last year in 7mins 50 seconds. To put this into perspective, that's quicker than either a BMW M4 or a Lamborghini Gallardo.

But back to the real world. Honda's sling-shot re-entered the fray last year with appropriate drama. Packing no less than 306bhp, the body is an angular mass of air intakes and spoilers that remind all and sundry that this is no ordinary shopping hatch.

Honda got a tad flaky when the economic crunch hit and rowed back on some of their sporty extravagances - the S2000 roadster went unreplaced, the supercar NSX was put on ice until only recently and keen buyers for the Type R had to bide their time for a while.

The wait was worth it, though. The latest Type R is a two litre, turbocharged marvel that provides electrifying performance alongside everyday practicality.

It's a car that can be used to take you to work or the shops, yet it will satisfy the enthusiast who likes to indulge in regular track days.

A few bare facts - the unrestricted top speed is 167mph and 62mph comes up in 5.7 seconds. What's more you don't have to rev this Honda like crazy to extract vivid acceleration. The turbocharger helps supply abundant torque - 400Nm to be precise - which means high gear shunt is of the neck-jerking variety.

There is, however, a payback. The ride in the GT version I drove is very firm. Firm to the extent that you can almost feel the fillings in your teeth starting to rattle. Small bumps in the road surface transmit major jolts and pot holes must be avoided totally or the wide alloy wheels will be in peril.

Give the Type R a smooth road, sprinkled with corkscrew bends and sweeping curves and it will be in its element...so will you. Few cars could be faster, and remain so glued to the Tarmac. And the steering, while not being super-informative, is nicely weighted, precise and turns in well.

As you might expect, there's a price to be paid for such dynamics. In addition to a harsh ride, the noise levels from the engine and exhausts can become wearing on long runs. Some commotion is purely mechanical, and not unpleasant, but this is added to by a degree of tyre noise.

The six speed manual gearbox is a pleasure to use with Honda's usual crisp, short-throw movement. Ratios are close and well chosen and complement the eager, high revving engine.

Life in the Type R cabin is comfortable and stylish with deep wrap-around bucket seats in Alcantara. The layout of the dash is similar to the normal Civic, no bad thing. The GT pack which costs an extra £2,300 adds dual zone climate control, parking sensors and sat-nav.

Despite the sporty nature and huge performance, clever use of space means it's a practical car for family motorists with five doors and a huge hatchback boot that can soak up nearly 500 litres of luggage. And almost three times that amount when the rear seats are folded down.

FAST FACTS

Honda Civic Type R GT

Price: £32,995

Mechanical:306bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 167mph

0-62mph: 5.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 38.7

Insurance Group: 33

C02 emissions: 170g/km

Bik rating: 31%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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