So it continues, the Type R amazed some us here at Zerotohundred.com but it left the rest all wound up over whether or not it’s worth all that hype and money. Throughout the entire week we had it, there were numerous arguments and convincing sessions but none got settled. Something had to be done, such a hot topic could not be left undone, a neutral figure would have to be brought in.
Someone like the Stig, a pro racer minus the mysteriousness and white race suit. Someone like MME and national drift champ, Tengku Djan Ley. So we called him, convinced him, got late picking him up, fried him in the blistering afternoon sun for the photoshoot, and here’s his take on the Civic Type R FD2R.
“It all started when I got a call from Keshy asking if I’d be interested in reviewing the new Type R for Zerotohundred.com. I’ve never driven the new FD2R and neither have I done any automotive reviews for the media before, so of course I’d be interested. I heard some pretty good things about the Type-R and I was eager to see what the hype was all about.
The Type R has always intrigued me ever since it’s first introduction with the EG platform. Until today it is still regarded as the weapon of choice for the Super 1600 category in the Malaysian Super Series. While most of the other competitors were running a mildly modified version of the B16, we (R3) had our hands full trying to keep our high-strung CAMPRO in one piece throughout the season. We only managed 4th overall in the championship back in 2005, and that showed us the true performance & potential of the VTEC engine. However, having said that, I am a staunch RWD man. So I still had my reservations.
What strikes me the most is the “Honda Championship White” paint scheme. It gives it the “Factory Works Car” feeling right from the start, and you know it means business, even when it’s stationary. I absolutely love white cars with white wheels, if you noticed, my own AE86 is also white on white; so to me, that’s definitely a plus point.
So how special can an over engineered FWD machine be? I have had my fair share of driving FWD cars and I didn’t expect the Type R to be any different from the rest since it had 4 doors and its platform is a derivative of a family saloon.
I’m not going to get into the usual stuff like “the seats are comfy but the steering wheel design is not to my taste etc”. Keshy has already given you a brief idea of the overall car, so I’m going to go straight to the point and give you my experience through what I do best. Which is driving every last drop out of the Type R.
We headed out on to KESAS highway. I always enjoy a slow drive with any new product. This gives me an opportunity to know the car a little better before I start gunning it round corners. But even at low speeds, the Type R gave me the feeling that “town driving” is not what it’s been built for. The suspension is stiff, steering responsive and what really caught me, was that I had my left hand constantly on the shifter. I knew immediately that this car would be quick once I start putting it through its pace.
The firm ride made the car feel nervous at low speeds. It’s not a relaxing drive at all. Steering wasn’t calm, always tracking towards the ruts and impurities on the road, impact feel (over potholes etc) was at the edge of being thrashy and the engine felt relatively gutless at low RPM which meant I had to constantly work the gears to maneuver round slower traffic.
I was heading to my usual “ride route”, which I use heavily for development of all 3 stages of R3 products. This would give me a good benchmark on how the Type R would perform since the Satria R3 was build on a relatively similar concept of “Pure Performance”. The ride route has a combination of straight road (about 1km long), 90-degree turns, and long sweepers into tight hairpins that required mid corner braking not forgetting all the road impurities we users face on a daily basis.
So we turned off the main road into the “Ride Route”. First section, 1km stretch of straight road. I kept it at WOT in 2nd, going through the gears. I was up to 6th gear and the car was bouncing off the speed limiter. Damn! This thing is fast! Our Stage 3 Satria R3 (180HP) does 190kmh on the same stretch of road and this car can do easily 200+ without the speed limiter!!
It’s a totally different animal once you get the motor on song. Gear ratios are perfect as it keeps the engine constantly in the VTEC range. The car accelerates in every gear and the engine never once, ran out of breath!
Next up, 90-degree turn. The Brembo’s as usual did the job effortlessly. Late on the brakes, shifting down the box into 2nd gear before attacking the lefthander. I was told that some of the journalist had issues with the shift quality, especially when shifting down the gears. For me, it was just awesome, quick and precise movement. I couldn’t ask for more. But make sure you drive it like a racecar, which means going through every gear on down shift. You’re asking for trouble if you start skipping gears.
Steering response is just simply awesome on the Type R. Minimal steering input & precise handling is how I would sum up the steering feedback. There was a slight reduction of steering effort off center which reduced the contact between man and machine, but who cares as the overall steering response made up for it! It gave it an effortless drive. The Torsen LSD does a wonderful job delivering the power on to the tarmac. Just enough slip to gain maximum traction out of corners.
Next section, combination of corners. This is where the great outshines the good. Some cars tend to be nervous through the fast sections and some suffer heavy understeer through the tight sections. The Type R however outshines even the great. The limited slip with perfect torque split made the car tuck into corners on acceleration. The purposeful, semi-slick territory Potenza’s complimented the package perfectly. I was amazed at the amount of front-end grip the Type R could generate. The trick is to keep light amount throttle applied mid corner, just before you squeeze it from apex point to exit point. This is EXACTLY how a FWD Super Tourer would behave.
Chassis balance is next to nothing. The Honda engineers have done a superb job. Hands down. It doesn’t feel like a 4 door family saloon at all. In the drivers seat, the Type R gives you the feeling that the car is small, nimble and informative. The car feels planted even at high speed mid corner braking, never once giving you the feeling it’s going to swap ends. Steering input is kept at a minimum, just like a RWD car due to the superb steering response, (some cars suffer from high level of steering wheel input mid corner).
By the end of the course, I was amazed at what the Type R could deliver. It was an exhilarating drive. One lap was definitely not enough, so I decided to do another lap to reconfirm what I have just experienced.
From a professional race driver point of view, the Civic Type R fits the cut of being an all out track day car. The concept of “drive to work on weekdays (as it is road legal), and race it on weekends” fits the bill perfectly. Very much like the Lotus concept. Great agility, extraordinary engine performance & phenomenal braking capability. There are not many other products available in the market, capable of providing you with a similar level of satisfaction produced by the latest Civic Type R.
But the Type R seriously lacks behind in the area of “ride quality”. From the way the car handles and performs, most of the chassis development must have been done on a race circuit, where lap times, handling & outright performance was the main objective making comfort a by-product. It’s not for the faint hearted, and definitely not a car just for posers hoping to pick up. This is a MAN’S CAR where performance overrules everything else known to man. In one word HARDCORE.
In summary, the Type R is built for a very specific purpose, to provide you with the ultimate performance package of speed, agility and accuracy. All these elements of speed can only be unleashed on the circuit, where the Type R is able to spread its wings.
Not many cars have managed to get my enthusiasm and adrenalin pumping. The type R is one of the few. ”
-Tengku Djan Ley-
So there we have it, a champions view on the highly accaimed Type R but then again, it raises one issue, is it worth the money? To answer that question we needed to see what other alternatives where there in the same price range. After some brain storming sessions and more arguing, we settled that the toughest competition the Type R faces in the same price range is the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Watch out for Part 3, we put the Type R head to head against the Golf GTI, and to avoid wasting time bickering among ourselves over which was better, we dragged Djan along for his view.