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Honda Civic Type R GT 2.0 VTEC Turbo Manual

The Civic Type R has been one of the finest hot hatches on the market for a great number of years now and, to make sure that it remains as desirable as ever, it has not only received a series of updates to improve the already sensational handling but there are also two new variants in the line-up: the Limited Edition and Sport Line.

The two new models really do sit at opposite ends of the scales. While the Limited Edition incorporates lightweight components and a stripped back interior that helps it shed 47kg, as well as enhanced driving dynamics, the Sport Line brings a slightly more subtle look to the range with a low-deck rear spoiler, 19in alloy wheels and a black interior.

2020 Civic Type R MMC launch (44951697)
2020 Civic Type R MMC launch (44951697)

Exterior changes are limited to a new symmetrical design surrounding the lower fog lights, smooth surfaces and sleek styling blades on the front and rear bumpers, a larger, thinner, front grille and deeper air dam below the bumper.

The sports seats are snug – and that’s not just because of my generous stature – and supportive. The deeply sculpted bucket seats, trimmed in striking black and red suede-effect fabric, wrap themselves around you and place you low in the car.

The steering wheel is now wrapped in pleasantly tactile and easy-to-grip Alcantara.

Standard equipment includes LED headlamps, air con, reversing camera, adaptive cruise control and alloy wheels. GT spec adds dual zone climate control, an improved audio system, LED front foglights and a wireless charging pad for your mobile.

The infotainment system is centred around a seven-inch touchscreen in the middle of the centre console. Despite the great strides Honda have made on improving perceived quality in the cabin the firm’s Honda Connect still requires a bit more spit and polish.

The graphics aren’t especially sharp on a screen that could do with a few more pixels packed in and it can take a hefty prod to produce a response. There is a column of capacitive shortcut buttons down the side but without looking it’s hard to be sure that you’ve selected the right one, something that makes it tricky to use while you’re on the move.

2020 Civic Type R GT (44951647)
2020 Civic Type R GT (44951647)

The new Civic is much wider and longer than the previous model. In fact, it’s one of the largest hatchbacks on the market so it’s no surprise to discover that head and legroom is generous in the front and back. You can easily fit two six foot-plus humans in tandem without compromising comfort.

What you don’t get in the rear is a middle seat, so the Type R is a strict four-passenger runabout. It seems a strange decision as, given the exceptional width of the car, there’s certainly room for a third passenger across the rear bench.

Also lacking are the Magic Seats. They could be folded, tumbled or even removed entirely to create a cavernous cargo area but changes to the car’s packaging meant that there was no longer any space to accommodate them.

2020 Civic Type R MMC launch (44951736)
2020 Civic Type R MMC launch (44951736)

There’s one engine – the 2.0-litre turbo from the mkIII fitted with a new exhaust system that increases power output by 10bhp to 316 – and two trim levels. It’ll fire the Type R to 62mph in 5.7 seconds on its way to a top speed of 169mph.

Maximum torque available from 2,500rpm and revised engine mapping has helped dial out more of the turbo lag that was evident in the pre-facelift model.

A Comfort setting has been added to the dampers and, while it does make living with the Type R on a day-to-day basis a little more forgiving, you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that it’s gone soft. The ride is certainly a bit more compliant, marginally more supple, but the set-up remains firm and you’ll still feel every nook and cranny that passes beneath the wheels.

The multi-link suspension set-up has been upgraded to improve responsiveness and produce sharper handling. The software controlling the Adaptive Damper System evaluates road conditions ten times faster meaning that the system adapts to changing conditions much quicker than before. It’s also clever enough to control each wheel independently.

2020 Civic Type R MMC launch (44951725)
2020 Civic Type R MMC launch (44951725)

Mechanical changes to the suspension have resulted in better toe-in characteristics when cornering as well as improved feel through the steering wheel.

Efforts have also been made to dial out some of the torque steer that traditionally plagues powerful front wheel-drive cars. It hasn’t disappeared completely but when you put you accelerate hard it never feels like a battle you’re going to lose.

If you need to dial things up a little – and even Comfort mode offers enough grip and poise to bring a grin to even the grumpiest of faces – there’s Sport and +R modes to flick through. They add weight to steering, sharpen up throttle response and tighten up body control – not that it could ever be described as loose – to turn the Type R into a proper racer for the road.

A limited slip differential helps keep things tidy at the sharp end, generating a prodigious amount of grip as it fires you from corner to corner. The brakes have been upgraded with two-piece floating front discs and new pads. They boast prodigious stopping power as well as consistency and generous feel. The short-throw six-speed gearbox has been fitted with firmer bushings to improve feel and feedback and remains slick and weighty, letting you flick through the gears with speed and precision. There's a new titanium teardrop knob that's designed to fit comfortably in your hand and, do you know what? It does.

2020 Civic Type R GT (44951653)
2020 Civic Type R GT (44951653)

There’s not a huge amount of aural drama. That new exhaust system doesn’t quite produce the soundtrack the looks, perhaps, promise.

The Civic Type R is more civilised that the previous generation; if you need it be. The good news is that, despite the inclusion of a comfort mode, the Type R’s ability to surprise and delight with its agile chassis, outrageous grip and thunderous power remains undiminished.

Indeed, it’s safe to say that the differences between the last generation and this one are profound. It is more practical with a much-improved interior in terms of both quality and usability, and it is more agile, more exploitable more of the time quicker, grippier, funner…

If that’s not enough, if you’re looking for a hot hatch, the Type R is also reasonably kind to your bank balance.

Honda Civic Type R GT 2.0 VTEC Turbo Manual

Price: £34,820

As tested: £35,670

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder VTEC turbocharged

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Max power: 320PS @ 6,500rpm

Max torque: 400Nm @ 2,500 – 6,500rpm

Max speed: 169mph

Acceleration (0-62mph): 5.8 seconds

Urban: 28.8mpg

Extra urban: 43.5mpg

Combined: 36.7mpg

Emissions (CO2): 176g/km

For more information visit www.honda.co.uk

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