Hot Hatch

Honda has been building Civic Type Rs for 25 years, and has honed the latest to within an inch of its life

10 minutes 1 second

This is the latest FL5 generation Honda Civic Type R, driven on road and track. It’s likely the last of a dying breed, an old-school front-drive, manual gearbox hot hatch. One with 324bhp, a 171mph top end, some less, er, challenging looks than the old FK8 and a front end so clever it can outwit its own driver. Seriously, it’s capable of some mind-boggling feats.

But is it a hot hatch at all when it’s almost the size of a BMW M3 and costs £47,000? It is when the recipe is right and it’s this good to drive. Honda has been building Civic Type Rs for 25 years, and has honed the latest to within an inch of its life. Nothing has been overlooked. The turbo spins 3 per cent more freely, the flywheel is 18 per cent lighter reducing inertia by 25 per cent, the steering column now wears a larger torsion bar reducing deflections by 60 per cent, revised lower suspension arms improve camber rigidity by 16 per cent and rear body rigidity is up 15 per cent. Many per cents.

Enough in fact for us to declare the new Type R Top Gear’s Car of the Year 2022. And not just because of the handling, nor the superb gearshift and the sublime new seats. It’s that it all works in such harmony and is as rewarding to drive as any ‘proper’ sports car you care to mention.

It’s a sublime car, this. More demanding of you than a Golf GTI or R, but infinitely more entertaining and beguiling. What a thing to drive…

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