A great blend of sport and tour

A Rallye Red 2017 Honda Civic Type R has graced my driveway for the last week. Visible from my office window, the hot hatch just begs to be driven – and driven hard. It’s a Nürburgring-tuned monster with an appetite for the Ford Focus RS, Subaru WRX STI, and Volkswagen Golf R, yet is rather livable doing everyday, mundane trips around town. Honda somehow engineered the Type R to do both, though the phrase about being a jack of all trade and master of none definitely applies.

The Type R is based on the Civic Hatchback but receives extra structural adhesives for a more rigid chassis. It also gets a unique suspension system, complete with adaptive dampers, stiffer spring rates, and thicker anti-roll bars. And of course, the Type R has its own powertrain – a souped-up version of the Accord’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Here it makes 306 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque from 2,500 up to 4,500 rpm. Honda chose to forego a complex and heavy all-wheel-drive system like the Ford, Subaru, and Volkswagen; instead, going with a front-wheel drive setup that allows for an extremely respectable curb weight of only 3,100 pounds. It’s this combination of light weight and rigidity that make the Type R what it is. And now that you know Honda’s recipe, here’s how the final product tastes.

Continue reading for more on the 2017 Honda Civic Type R.

Behind the Wheel

2017 Honda Civic Type R: Life Behind the Wheel Interior
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The Civic’s dash is visually interesting and most controls are logically arranged.

Before diving into driving impressions, let’s cover Honda’s work with the 10th-generation Civic’s interior and the Type R improvements. First, the Civic’s dash is visually interesting and most controls are logically arranged. The gauges are easy to read at a glance, the steering wheel controls are mostly intuitive, and the infotainment system’s menus are easy to breeze through.

There are a few complaints, though. The gauge cluster could offer more vehicle information like individual tire pressure, and the five-way controller on the steering wheel confusingly operates both the radio stations and the gauge cluster info. Second, the HVAC system’s controls are hidden in a menu within the infotainment. Yeah, there’s a big “climate” button right under the screen, but the system often takes a few seconds to bring up the controls. These include the fan speed and blower location – two things that are commonly used. Beyond that, thankfully there are few drawbacks.

2017 Honda Civic Type R: Life Behind the Wheel Interior
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It offers tons of cubby spots and clever spaces for things

Scoring points for handiness, the Civic offers tons of cubby spots and clever spaces for things. The center armrest slides rearward for access to more cup holders, a third cupholder resides at the console’s bottom – perfect for those Trenta-sized drinks at Starbucks. Ahead of the shifter is a perfect spot for cell phones. The cubby includes a pass-through to a lower level where a USB port and 12-volt power plug are located. This makes managing cords a simple task.

Honda made a big deal about its sporty front seats at the Type R launch event I attended. They aren’t Recaro or Sparco branded, but are actually designed and built in-house. The seats are obviously heavily bolstered, which makes tossing the Type R into corners all the more fun. They do lack a lumbar adjustment, which I discovered after about three hours behind the wheel, does lead to a groaning. My pregnant wife also bemoaned them after about five minutes. Still, they are mostly very comfortable and certainly fit the Type R’s persona.

2017 Honda Civic Type R: Life Behind the Wheel Interior
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There is a respectable amount of legroom and headroom for life-size adults

Rear seat comfort is surprisingly good, too. There is a respectable amount of legroom and headroom for life-size adults. Unfortunately, the center seat and folding armrest were cut in the name of weight savings, making inboard elbows lonesome and the Type R a four-person car.

Of course, the Type R is still a hatchback, so it offers the same cargo volume as the standard Civic Hatch. That equates to 25.7 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and an impressive 46.2 cubic feet with them folded. A retractable cargo shade keeps prying eyes at bay.

Driving Impressions

2017 Honda Civic Type R: Life Behind the Wheel Exterior
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A light steering effort is needed in Comfort, while a heavy hand is needed in +R mode, which helps control the car’s dartiness at higher speeds

The Civic Type R rides on adaptive dampers that correlate to three drive modes. Comfort, naturally, provides the smoothest ride, while Sport tightens things up a bit. Racetracks will find +R mode is best, with the suspension at its firmest. The drive modes also modulate the responsiveness of the steering and throttle. A light steering effort is needed in Comfort, while a heavy hand is needed in +R mode, which helps control the car’s dartiness at higher speeds. The low-effort setting makes for a more pleasurable drive around town. The opposite is true for the throttle; comfort mode has a heavy throttle that’s less sensitive, while +R mode only requires a light touch to send the 2.0-liter turbo-four skyrocketing to its 7,000-rpm redline. Sport mode splits the difference quite well.

Around town, Sport mode (which is the default mode) is all that’s needed. The engine willingly sings through its wide torque range between 2,500 and 4,500 rpm and up to its peak horsepower of 306 located at 6,500 rpm. The steering is incredibly direct and will send the Type R carving through a corner as if it were on rails. That’s no hyperbole, either. The Type R only exhibits understeer at the very limit, which is nearly unobtainable on the street. I was only able to find front-end plow when barreling into a corner at The Ridge Motorsports Park at Honda’s drive event back in August. Even then, the effect is minimal.

2017 Honda Civic Type R: Life Behind the Wheel Exterior
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The brakes offer just the right amount of initial grip to avoid sudden jerks, yet will rip your face off if pressed hard

The big Brembo brakes are just as good. Around town, the brakes offer just the right amount of initial grip to avoid sudden jerks, yet will rip your face off if pressed hard. Honda gave the Type R 13.8-inch, drilled front rotors over the standard Civic’s 11.1-inch discs. Out back are Honda-branded calipers, but they are mounted on 12.0-inch rotors compared to the standard 10.2-inch units. The front bumper includes hidden inlets that dump cool air right onto the brakes. The result is immense levels of stopping power, full stop after full stop. During the track event, the brakes showed no signs of fade even after back-to-back laps over a four-hour timeframe. Obviously, hard braking around town will never touch the brakes full capabilities.

That VTEC, Yo!

2017 Honda Civic Type R: Life Behind the Wheel Drivetrain
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The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder’s head and block are made from aluminum and its crankshaft is forged from ultra-lightweight steel

While it an entire car to speed around a track, the engine is undeniably the focus point. Honda certainly focused on the Type R’s powerplant. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder’s head and block are made from aluminum and its crankshaft is forged from ultra-lightweight steel. The connecting rods and pistons are extremely light, too, along with the single-mass flywheel. Honda reinforced the main bearing caps for added strength. The result is an engine with super quick revs up to its 7,000-rpm redline and with its first major tune-up scheduled at 100,000 miles.

The VTEC system works to keep the engine making peak power and torque, regardless of the rev. The dual overhead camshafts phase to open the exhaust valves early during lower engine speeds, feeding the turbo more quickly. This eliminates turbo lag and helps generate that amazing 23.2 pounds of boost. Direct fuel injection also contributes to precise control of the engine’s operations.

2.0-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder
Horsepower 306 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque 295 pound-feet @ 2,500 – 4,500 rpm
Max RPM 7,000
Valvetrain DOHC; i-VTEC
Compression Ratio 9.8:1
Max Boost 23.2 PSI
Fuel System Direct injection; Premium Unleaded
Fuel Economy 22 city / 28 hwy / 25 comb
2017 Honda Civic Type R: Life Behind the Wheel Interior
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The only transmission available with the Civic Type R is a silky smooth six-speed manual

The only transmission available with the Civic Type R is a silky smooth six-speed manual. Its short throws and light clutch make for quick shifts that anyone can nail. The gearbox also features automatic rev matching, which blips the throttle head of a downshift. It can be turned off, but even when on, the system doesn’t detract from the enthusiast’s driving experience.

A limited-slip differential keeps the Type R from being a one-wheel-wonder. It keeps both front tires fighting for grip rather than just overpowering a single tire that’s lost traction. It might seem like overkill on a four-cylinder, front-wheel drive hatchback, but the limited-slip is honestly needed, even with the massive 245/30R20 Continental SportContact 6 summer performance tires. And thankfully the rear tires are the same size, allowing for a tire rotation. That’ll probably be needed pretty soon as the Contis only have a tread wear rating of 240.

Final Thoughts

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The 2017 Honda Civic Type R is a helluva machine. Sure, it’s fantastic fun on a racetrack, but it’s also extremely livable on the daily. Perhaps the Volkswagen Golf R is better suited for daily driving, but the Type R is miles more fun. The Civic’s downfalls of a noisy interior, awkward HVAC controls, and a somewhat stiff ride thanks to the thin tire sidewalls are a fair trade-off for the soulful way the thing drives. Even a trip to the store is exciting, not to mention all the attention that gravitates toward the expressive bodywork.

Stick around for more content on the Honda Civic Type R. More is on the way!.

References

Honda Civic

2017 Honda Civic Type R: Life Behind the Wheel Exterior
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Here’s How Honda Manages Air on the 2017 Civic Type R

2017 Honda Civic Type R: Life Behind the Wheel Drivetrain
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The Turbocharged Heart of the 2017 Honda Civic Type R

2017 Honda Civic Type R: Life Behind the Wheel Exterior
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Managing The Bump: A Look at the Civic Type R’s Suspension

2017 Honda Civic Type R: Life Behind the Wheel Exterior
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Turns Out The 2017 Honda Civic Type R Makes a Good Daily Driver

2017 Honda Civic Type R – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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Read our full driven review on the Honda Civic Type R.

2017 Honda Civic Type R Exterior High Resolution
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Read our full review on the Honda Civic Type R.

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