And what is your favourite Hatch?
Hot hatches have always been very popular amongst the petrol head society – who doesn’t like a small responsive go kart that you can take out on a Sunday afternoon for a blast on the back roads, eh? Even our elders used to have fun – look at the great hatchbacks from the past – Peugeot 205GTI or Renault 5 turbo for example? In my opinion they are one of the most beautiful hatchbacks ever made. Yes I know… probably, by modern standards they are not that fast, but how much fun are these cars? Then we have the classic VW Rabbit with the magical GTI letters stuck on its boot, the insane Japanese hatchbacks – Nissan Pulsar GTi and Toyota Starlet Glanza etc. There are many hot hatches out there now for people to enjoy – either that would be a run on twisty road to your nearest town or a proper track day, all you need to do is choose one. It seems currently there are number of favourites – Renault Clio 197, VW Golf GTI or R32, Fiat 500 Abarth, Citroen DS3R, Ford Focus RS etc. Mine? – the Honda Civic Type-R, hence why I bought one.
Everybody knows these cars are driven by 19 year old boys with baseball hats angled to the side; seats reclined down as far as they go while listening to an annoying music extremely loud! I would like to point out – there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; I am nearly 30, have a baseball hat and do listen to an annoying music loudly, but that doesn’t change the fact how awesome this car is.
After getting a passenger run in the EK9 Type-R, which I admit I think, is far superior in terms of “raw car” to the EP3, I knew I had to own a Type-R. In the end though, I opted for the EP3 as the design and comfort of the more modern Type-R did appeal to me.
If you are not very familiar with these cars here is a quick history of these future classics:
Gen1 - Honda Civic Type-R EK9
The first Honda Civic to deserve the Type-R badge was created in August 1997 and, produced up to 2000, was based on the 6th generation Honda Civic model – 3 door Japanese Honda Civic SiR model, code name EK4. Very similar to its bigger brother Honda Integra DC2 the Honda Civic Type-R received a transformation from the basic model to a more racing pedigree body with the help of omission of sound deadening and other weight-reduction measures, strategically seam welded mono-coque chassis to improve rigidity, close gear ratio gearbox, front helical LSD; interior received stunning red Recaro bucket seats, red door cards and red Type-R floor mats, a titanium shift knob and a Momo leather-wrapped steering wheel. The B16B Type-R engine with the VTEC technology pumped out astonishing 182hp from a 1.6L engine displacement, which was one of the highest power outputs per litre of all time in a naturally-aspirated engine.
Gen2 - Honda Civic Type-R EP3
The second generation Type-R was rolling out from the production lines in Swindon, England from 2001-2005 and featured a 2 litre 197bhp K20A VTEC engine. There were two Type-R versions available on the market – EDM (European Domestic Market) and JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) although both were produced in UK and the Japanese versions were exported. The EDM model received the same treatment as the previous model – seam welding, close gear ration 6-speed transmission and uprated brakes; however, to keep the costs down, sadly no longer it came with the LSD.The JDM model on the other hand came with the highly valued helical LSD, red Recaro race seats, more track oriented chassis and undercarriage set up and was muscled up more to receive a figure of 212hp. It was obtained by fully balanced crankshaft, different intake manifold, exhaust manifold, higher light camshafts, higher compression pistons, chrome-moly flywheel and ECU programming and more aggressive gear ratios compared to the EDM model. Other highly desired feature of the JDM model was the exclusive Championship White paintwork that was not available for the EDM models.
In year 2003 Honda Civic celebrated its 30th anniversary, and to celebrate that Honda released a special anniversary Type-R model for the EDM model that featured special red Recaro sport seats, AC, leather Momo steering wheel, red carpets and door linings and privacy glass on the 3 rear windows. The model came in limited 300 numbers; 100 – Nighthawk Black, 100 Satin Silver and 100 Milano Red.
In 2004 the car received many improvements – revised EPS with more responsive and quicker steering, revised suspension settings, more lightweight clutch and flywheel and projector Headlamps (JDM models came with halogens only, while EDM came with an option for HID with levelling motors).
In the last year of EP3 production (2005) Honda introduced the Premier Edition model featuring red Recaro Trendline seats (very similar to Anniversary Edition ones), a darker shade of fabric on the rear seat centre sections, a Momo steering wheel, red carpet, Type-R logo embossed into the front brake callipers and privacy glass on the rear windows. The Premier Edition came in Milano Red, Nighthawk Black, Cosmic Grey and Satin Silver versions.
The EDM Civic Type R was praised highly by the motoring journalists across the UK (Top Gear, Fifth Gear, What Car?). CTR (Civic Type-R) stole number of awards from the rivals and obtained titles like “Hot Hatch Of the Year” and clocked huge number of sales.
3rd Gen - Honda Civic Type-R FD2/FN2
The third and current model of Type-R was produced from 2007-201, European version – a hatchback, code name FN2 running a 2.0 K20A I4 engine and Japanese version sedan, code name FD2, running K20Z4 I4 engine.
The Japanese version saloon went on sale on March 30, 2007. With the engine borrowed from the bigger brother Accord, the FD2 was running more power than the European FN2 hatchback – 222hp to be precise. More importantly the wider wheel base meant more speed and more grip round the corners. LSD came equipped standard, along with the drive-by-wire throttle and porting of the intake valve ports, technology used in the daddy of Hondas – NSX. The 6 speed close gear ratio gearbox was still present with increased size front brake discs and huge 18 inch wheels. Another notable difference between the European and Japanese Type-R was the rear suspension – European market Civic came, for the first time ever, equipped with a rear torsion beam (boooooo Honda, shame on you) instead of the usual independent rear suspension. To save weight aluminium was used and bonded with adhesive instead of being welded. Aerodynamic improvement came from the diffuser built into the rear bumper and the huge rear wing. For the first time Honda no longer used the Recaro seats, instead they used their in-house design; the same applied for the steering wheel, gone was the Momo, replaced by the Honda design steering wheel.
In 2008 the car received a facelift – front headlights received a smoked tint, rear taillights got a new design (round insets became octagons) and more colour options became available. On September 17, 2013 a unique Honda Civic Mugen RR edition was released for Japanese market in 300 limited numbers exclusively in Milano Red paintwork producing 240hp.
Gen 4 - Honda Civic Type-R
Recently many car sites and forums featured Hondas released trailer and images from the upcoming Civic Type-R model that should hit the markets in 2015. This time the car will be a 4 door saloon featuring a 2.0 VTEC engine for the first time breathing with the help of a turbo producing in excess of 270hp. Honda have aimed to get this model around the green hell faster than any rivals of the time, fingers crossed.