MotorV8me.com clearly remembers its first drive in a Type R car, the Integra DC2R.
We remember the “snick, snick” of the sweet gearbox, keeping the engine singing in the top half of the rev range.
We also remember the disappointment of getting smoked from the lights by cars like the WRX and 200sx, and then the surprise of pulling them in once the road tightened and the corners arrived – the surprise of a naturally aspirated, front wheel drive car, utterly devoid of understeer and full of character and precision.
It was then that MotorV8me.com understood the Type R spirit – balance; handling; steering precision; sharp turn in; manic vtec (yo!) scream, throttle response and control; the sum of the parts being greater than the whole; and something more than just straight line heroics.
Looking into the rear view mirror and seeing the WRX wanting to understeer into a tree and the 200sx oversteering like it was driving on an oil slick, we realised the true meaning of the Type R badge. This was even more evident when the Integra pestered more fancied and powerful cars on the track.
A WANING SPIRIT
Over time, MotorV8me.com watched, saddened at the demise of the Type R spirit and Honda’s sports car DNA. The Prelude, Integra, CRX, NSX, S2000 – all culled from the Honda range and replaced by Toyota clones – boring and economical shopping carts.
The only car left to carry the Type R badge was the Civic R.
Knowing that the R philosophy was never about straight line speed, we didn’t flinch when we read the following on the Civic R in the February 2011 issue of Wheels magazine:
“The sound and fury doesn’t signify anything fast … it just aint that quick
If you’re not prepared for a max-commitment launch you’ll lose the traffic light Grand Prix to … anything automatic.
It needs more torque and less understeer”.
Sure, in a straight line, the Civic R was the slowest of the 11 hot hatches gathered (0-100 in 8.2 seconds, the quarter mile in 15.9 seconds, and among the slowest for in gear acceleration).
Sure, the low rev response is rubbish.
Sure, the hard ride and general lack of refinement is obvious.
Sure, it’s a flawed road car with a very narrow window of power and enjoyment.
Sure, oriental Honda fan bois buy them, put Mugen stickers on the side, fit neon lights underneath, and then go changing lanes underneath trucks in a most fast and furious manner before hitting the drive through at Bankstown Maccas.
However, all this would be excused and exonerated on the track and in the corners, right? Wrong!
ON THE WRONG TRACK
In the hands of an ex Formula BMW and Formula 3 racing driver, the Civic R, the current pinnacle of the R badge, was hammered by all and sundry on the track. Check out the lap times:
Renault Megane RS250 (184kW, 340nM, 1393kg, $46,990) – 60.7 seconds.
WRX (195kW, 343nM, 1410kg, $39,990) – 60.92 seconds.
Golf R (188kW, 330nM, 1476kg, $48,490) – 60.98 seconds.
Ford Focus RS (224kW, 440nM, 1492kg, $59,990) – 61.14 seconds.
Mini Cooper JCW (155kW, 280nM, 1130kg, $49,200) – 62.01 seconds.
VW Golf GTI (155kW, 280nM, 1380kg, $42,990) – 62.33 seconds.
Mazda3 MPS (190kW, 380nM, 1455kg, $41,915) – 62.40 seconds.
VW Polo GTI (132kW, 250nM, 1189kg, $27,790) – 62.41 seconds.
Renault Clio RS200 (148kW, 215nM, 1281kg, $39,140) – 62.47 seconds.
Citroen DS3 Dsport (115kW, 240nM, 1165kg, $35,990) – 62.80 seconds.
Civic R (148kW, 193nM, 1345kg, $39,990) – 63.40 seconds.
MotorV8me.com couldn’t believe our eyes.
A car that asked for so many compromises on the road then had the nerve to offer no corresponding advantage or joy with its track performance.
A Type R car, flogged by a Citroen DS3 on the track?! What is this world coming to?!
A $40k Type R car, beaten by a $28k VW Polo on the track? The Polo was described as “quick, safe and fun … class leading ride and refinement”. A Polo, which is a much better and less compromised road car, is now also the faster track car?!
To add insult to injury, the Polo is more than 12 grand cheaper than the Civic! Hahaha