As much as we Malaysians complain about our beloved country, we truly are a lucky bunch. We have some of the best roads this side of the world, lenient traffic police that we still complain about anyway even as we cruise down our ‘ways at 160km/h, and we have access to some of the best cars in the world if money is no object.
Take the Civic Type-R FD2R for example, Malaysia is the only market out of Japan to have the FD2R in its local Honda line up, how lucky is that? It’s a great car really, from the way it looks to the way it drives, everything is well pieced together to bring alive that legendary Type R experience, making it safe to say that this Type R is probably the most thoroughbred of Type Rs since the NSX-R.
The FD2R runs on the same 2.0 liter K20 engine found in the Integra DC-5 but takes on a different character in the Civic, it could very well be the way the car handles that elevates the K20 engine to higher ratings but the engine also gives the car two different personalities for you to choose from (by the way, the K20 in the FD2R takes the Civic a full second quicker than the Integra DC5 around Tsukuba circuit and four seconds quicker at Suzuka). Short-shift all the way into sixth gear while staying below 5,800rpm and the menacing Civic Type-R is your friendly, everyday, go anywhere car with a roomy interior and comfortable supportive Recaro front seats that also provide a great seating position. On the flip side, pull through the cogs with the VTEC light flickering madly and the FD2R is probably all the fun you will ever need if you have RM200,000 to throw around.
But having kept the car for a week and having had discussions with various owners and people who have driven the car, different points were brought up, the most nagging of all was that the car was not fast enough and that it sounds faster than it actually is. It’s somewhat true but it’s not a problem, drive is fed through a close ratio six speed gearbox which means that you’re shifting much faster and earlier than your usual road racers, the lack of sound insulation amplifies the VTEC scream and the super stiff suspension just seals the race car feel. Anyone with a lack of car-know, will believe that the FD2R is a race car for the road and that it’s doing 200km/h when its actually only doing 140km/h, but yet it still is able to provide a healthy dosage of adrenalin rush usually only reserved for high powered, high speed, high priced machines, very cheekily satisfying, just don’t get into a showdown against turbocharged competition.
Honda claims that the body is actually 50% more rigid than its previous JDM only Integra Type R, and it definitely feels like it too, the Type R does not ride on a magic carpet, but then, it never had any intentions to ride like one either. The stiff suspension is actually at the very core of the car’s personality, it allows the car to be driven hard through corners at speeds you normally wouldn’t try doing but it is also too stiff for everybody’s taste as I later found out as I ferried more and more people around and had to deal with their complaints and observations.
Such views effectively position the Type R as a hardcore enthusiast car that not everybody can appreciate, but then again, the Type-R IS an enthusiast only car. Everything about it is single-mindedly performance orientated; the FD2R features independent rear suspension rather than the torsion beam configuration used in its lesser European sibling, the FN2R. The suspension set up also happens to effectively ensure that the tyres retain contact with the tarmac at all times. Honda has even gone to the extent of adhesively bonding the extensively used aluminum instead of the traditional weld, all in the name of weight saving.
With 222hp that is made available at the far end of the rev meter at 8,400rpm and 215Nm of torque, the Type R makes you work for your pleasure, that also means that you need to find empty roads where you can really stretch the engine all the way to 8,400rpm, there are not that many roads around Kuala Lumpur that allow you to do that, but that problem is solved once past midnight, and yes, people surely must have woken up as we were ‘VTEC-ing’ around, testing the extent of the Bridgestone Potenza RE070 level of grip, the four pot Brembo’s up front and of course, the standard limited slip differential, and let me tell you, its grandly harmonious how each component of the car from the engine, to the chasis, to the tyre, to the brakes and to the LSD work in unison to deliver that wonderful “oh my god, this is a f**kin blast” feeling.
But sadly, not a lot of people can appreciate this car as it only serves very well for the driver who engages the car and is brave enough to exploit the extreme talent waiting patiently under that Championship white for his own benefit a.k.a knowing how to make it bloody quick around the bends and twisties and roads that don’t require the speed limiter intervening (180km/h). Not a lot of people know how to do that or find pleasure in doing so but to those who do, the Type R is a great ally.
This also lead to some arguments with close friends and colleagues about whether or not it’s actually good at what its supposed to do and whether or not its worth all that money, I definitely think so, I had a blast in the Type R and loved every minute I had it, but then also, the other guys drive bigger capacity, faster, more expensive cars that could have the Type R for breakfast, so we decided to take our argument up a notch, we invited a professional driver into our argument. We invited our very own national drift champion and pro racer, Tengku Djan Ley for a test drive to see what he thinks about the Civic Type R and to settle our fiery debate once and for all, find out next week what he has to say about the Civic FD2R.