Much has been said regarding the fifth-generation Honda Civic Type R since it was launched here in the Philippines back in 2017. In a nutshell, it looks like a Gundam, it’s fast, precise, and it’s lauded all over the world; getting awards from different bodies and setting records in tracks everywhere including the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife.
With such prestige surrounding the name, even the uninitiated would think the P3.18 million price tag is not too bad until you realize that the already quick Civic RS Turbo is only at P1.6 million. The difference between the two can get you another Civic S or E, and have some change for accessories, upgrades, or your other hobbies. This led me to ask, is the Type R really twice the car than an ordinary Civic?
Now before you pull up your pitchforks, I know they are very different cars. Obviously. But this is for those who’s looking for a high-performance car ‘for the thrill’ and has the budget to burn. But even so, that doesn’t mean they’ll be throwing it on just about anything that has hype surrounding it.
On the fundamentals, the Type R comes up short against the regular Civic though not by much. The manual transmission of the Type R is cumbersome in the city despite the soft clutch and Hill Start Assist. Add to that the stiff ride and the bucket seats that are hard to get into and out of.
Regardless, the Type R is still one of the most practical sports cars in its price range that you can take from home to the office or anywhere else in the city, either alone or with some friends. You can also do some quick sprints and overtakes if traffic allows you to, or if you’re driving at night with fewer cars on the road. But that’s the thing—the ordinary Civic can do all of these too. It’s more comfortable and easier to drive thanks to its CVT. The paddle shifters also allow you to climb up higher in the rev range whenever you want to, and then go back to being laid back. So where did your P1.4 million premium go?
One might say everything went to the uber-sporty exterior with all its faux vents, vortex generators, and dual spoilers at the back – and that’s partially true. Much of the additions in the Type R were put in performance upgrades like the almighty 2-liter turbo VTEC engine, race-tuned forged aluminum suspension, big Brembo brakes, 6-speed short-shift manual transmission, triple-tip exhaust, and yes, the Gundam aesthetic that improves downforce at high speeds. It’s effective too given that the Type R was able to conquer a lot of tracks around the world.
But does that make the Type R twice the car and worth its price? Yes it is, but only if you go past 3,000rpm. The Honda Civic is a daily car that can perform a bit, while the Type R is the total opposite as it eats other cars for breakfast all while being able to haul your groceries and drop your kids off at school, though with the compromises previously mentioned.
In the few days I’ve had this car, it was mostly in the city and it begs to go for more. Sprints and overtakes when the road frees up are fun but after a while, you’ll be wanting for the full experience which you can’t have inside the city. The red-badged Civic treats the city as its cage and comes to life on the track, hills, and mountain passes. Accelerate, shift up, hear the whistle. There’s a curve. Brake, downshift, auto-rev matching kicks in, accelerate, and wipe that grin off your face – that’s something you’ll never have if you’re just going in a straight line for a few seconds at a time.
The Type R is only twice the car if you let it be. It’s your choice if you want to domesticate such a wild beast, or spend your money elsewhere. I keep telling friends that if your money can’t buy happiness, you’re probably not spending it on the right things. But in the case of the Honda Civic Type R, happiness is at 3,000 rpm and beyond.