Honda Civic Type R 2015 review - the hottest hatch ever?

Adam Towler Antony Ingram
19 Aug 2015
Verdict:

Honda's new super-hatch outguns rivals on paper, but edgy +R damping means UK drivers can't exploit its most extreme settings

Evo Rating: 
Price: 
£29,995
For 
Dynamics, performance, engaging to drive
Against 
Outlandish styling won’t suit all tastes

evo Verdict

When road, driver and conditions gel as one in the new Civic Type R, this is a hugely exciting car. At other times it can feel wooden, artificial and not as quick as the numbers suggest. Understanding why, and best exploiting the car in any given situation, may be a reason for buying one in itself, but overall it still feels like a car that just misses the mark. 

From its deeply divisive styling to its intense personality, the Civic Type R is a complex beast. Looks are always subjective, but it remains to be seen whether buyers at this price point will be swayed by the Honda’s more awkward angles. The cabin is a combination of great seats, gearshift and driving position, but an ergonomic layout that’s an acquired taste. Perhaps more serious are occasional dynamic foibles that call into the question the Civic’s dynamic repertoire when driven hard, and an engine that’s not without its shortcomings. Tying the more aggressive engine mapping to an overly stiff damping setting in +R is another obvious blunder. To access the best Civic, on UK roads at least, you're best leaving that +R button well alone.

evo Tip

Honda suspects the majority of buyers will opt for the GT pack, which adds satellite navigation, adaptive cruise control and various safety systems over and above the large equipment roster in the standard car. It won’t affect the way the car drives but might make it more pleasant to live with day to day.

evo Comment

‘While the old car’s balance was biased towards understeer, this version is more neuatral from turn-in to apex and also considerably more playful and responsive to a sharply lifted throttle or a keenly judged brake input, making it more engaging and enjoyable along a road.

‘While some will mourn the loss of the high-revving engines, the more progressive should instead celebrate the most complete Civic Type R yet.' Dan Prosser, Road Test Editor (evo 211).

Performance and 0-60 time >  Turbo power helps make this the fastest Civic ever, by quite some margin.

Engine and gearbox > A slick manual gearbox and broad range of torque are standout features of the new Type R.

Ride and handling > Pressing the +R button stiffens damping up too much for UK roads. The chassis is composed enough without.

MPG and running costs > Respectable MPG and emissions figures are countered by expensive tyre replacement costs.

Prices, specs and rivals >  The VW Golf R and Vauxhall Astra VXR are tough competition. But the Honda remains unique.

Interior and tech > Some will dislike the busy dash, but everyone can appreciate the sorted seating position.

Design > The Honda's brash styling will be a swaying factor for many buyers.

Read more about:

Experience the thrill of driving every month with evo magazine, devoted exclusively to the greatest performance cars in the world. If you're passionate about performance cars then evo is your ultimate monthly read.