Honda’s current Civic Type R is a step back from the previous model made between 2001 and 2005. To get a proper Type R, you have to go to Japan—or the UK.
Said previous model was the second generation Honda Civic Type R codenamed EP3, a proper bunny slipper of an ultra-hot hatch. Its ridiculously unassuming 2650-pound body concealed a 2-liter VTEC engine good for 200 HP and redlined at a blenderworthy 8,600 RPM. But the good bits were found in the unpowered rear, which used a fully independent double wishbone suspension, making for spectacular handling.
The Slipper Civic was retired in 2005 to make way for the Spaceship Civic, possibly the greatest looking hatchback ever made. But when it debuted in Type R form, the smile sagged off everyone’s face. While the car put on 140 pounds, it retained the same engine—and adding insult to injury, it lost the double wishbones for cheaper torsion bars. Those who have driven it say it’s a letdown, even if the VTEC engine trumpets above 6,800 RPM with the exact same manic ferocity as before.
What to do then, what to do. Try this:
The Honda mothership, sneaky bastards that they are, developed another new Type R solely for domestic sale, called the FD2 (as opposed to the European FN2). It’s an altogether different car—for one, it’s a four door sedan, not a three door hatch. The engine makes 225 HP instead of the FN2’s puny 201. And it has the double wishbones in the rear, along with all sorts of bits and pieces trickled down from the NSX. The FD2 is a taut white menace, looking every bit the street racer it is.
As it’s Japan-only with right-hand drive, it’s best to get and use one in Britain. You can pick one up from Litchfield, a UK import specialist, for £23,000 ($33,000). And, of course, move to the UK to drive it.