Is Hondaâ€™s volcanic hatch actually too hot for normal roads?
When youâ€™re driving a Civic Type R, itâ€™s easy to forget how outlandish it looks. The custodian of our long-term car, Stan, is a photographer who often finds himself swapping cars in the course of his work, so he gets plenty of chances to notice its Marmite style. Just as well that heâ€˜s a big fan, as heâ€™s already gone well over the 5000-mile point.
Sometimes thatâ€™s the kind of mileage where small annoyances turn into big problems, but not here: for Stan, the Type R is maturing like a fine wine. The initially tight-feeling 2.0-litre turbocharged VTEC engine has begun loosening up. The new responsiveness is good both for speed on the road and for Stanâ€™s rarely-seen wallet, with the carâ€™s early 28mpg figures having improved to 32mpg. Still a little short of the official 36.7mpg average, but decent given the enthusiastic nature of the driving itâ€™s been enjoying, even during everyday driving.
Stan isnâ€™t expecting supermini mpg from this high-performance hot hatch, but he was surprised to find a note in the Bible-thick ownerâ€™s manual advising owners to check the oil level at every petrol fill. That sounds like a retro sort of instruction for a 2018 car, but in the interests of science he did check the oil level and was surprised to find it needed half a litre at 5000 miles.
Still, heâ€™s happy to keep adding the black stuff in exchange for such a rewarding drive. The word he uses is â€˜joyfulâ€™ and describes a 370-mile from Aintree to Goodwood in the company of a handy driver at the wheel of a Â£108,780 Maserati GranTurismo MC, powered by a 4.8-litre V8 engine.
If you go by list prices, the Â£33,520 Type R shouldnâ€™t have stood a chance, but across a twirling network of country roads the Honda had no difficulty keeping up with the Maser thanks to its remarkable traction and pickup, super-predictable handling and easily modulated lift-off oversteer. The Italian exotic had the beating of the Honda on exhaust noise but the Honda turned that trip into an event, which is a very useful attribute for any car.