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MY21 Civic Type R


#1

Finally the day has come. I’ve salivated over the badge, the specs, the reviews, the legend. When the FK8 chassis arrived I knew this was the generation I had to jump in. I test drove one back in 2018, and again just to make sure 2 years later, and promptly pulled the trigger.

Having decimated my bank account because if you can avoid finance why pay extra it is now officially mine and I still can’t quite believe this is real.

Racing blue best colour. Only available with the MY2021 updated model, which, incidentally, is now completely sold out because Swindon’s filled their allocations. Not to mention the whole debacle with parts being backed up and unable to dock at port because Brexit, and also, that Swindon is shutting soon, again because Brexit. Maybe they’ll retool in Ohio or Thailand, who knows, but as it stands, maybe we won’t see any more of this edition until the next gen in 2022. So this spec may end up a fairly rare one!

I deliberately took my mother with me to the dealership for the car reveal so I could record her reaction. My bet was that she’d either have a stroke or beat me with a rolled up newspaper. She actually took it far better than I expected, perhaps because she knew I was up to something by the way I completely just sprung it on her, and perhaps because she could already see the motherfucking wing from under the veil. I should never forget, between my parents, she was the one who knew a little bit about cars. Dad was completely clueless.

It’s windy and dusty today. Half an hour of ownership and it’s covered in specks already smh

Next to the notorious Peapod, which has served me well on the roads, off the roads, through sunshine and apocalyptic weather. I’ll pass it along to my mother, but I know one day she’ll want to go back to another Mazda6.

So first impressions? Well what I can add is that now that this car is actually mine I kinda have no choice but to deal with the infotainment FML :joy: And the dash cams. As for driving, well, like any new car that one actually owns, I pretty much grannied it home so I’ll tell you how it does for hypermiling first LOL.

Still feels surreal. Gonna go try out the Android auto and stuff now.


#2

They could build it in Japan instead, as was the case for the first Type R (and the third-gen 4-door model), but we’ll never know for sure until they actually tell us exactly where it will be built.

As for the car itself… The looks have actually grown on me, but it doesn’t change the fact that, regardless of how it looks, in addition to being the best FWD hot hatch on sale, it’s still the best hot hatch on sale, full stop - and one of the best driver’s cars available at any price.


#3

Some additional notes:

  • The fake piped sound in R mode is extremely synthetic and not fantastic. If I think of it as purpose-built only to tell me the pitch of the engine note as an indication of when to shift, then it’s ok.
  • There’s a hundred thousand too many options in the UI, with stuff like how long the lights stay on when you exit the car and walk away with the keys in your pocket and all that jazz. That said the ability to change the volume of the various beeps and alerts is handy.
  • When reviewers complain that the “sound quality from the stereo isn’t great”, that’s because it’s the stock 6 speaker sound system you’ll find in the low-mid regular trims, not the fancy-pants 10 speaker BOSE sound system in the RS, or the Mazda Turbo for example. And you know what? 10 speakers is more weight. I don’t exactly need that in here.
  • Reviewers say you can do all your business in any of the 3 driving modes: Comfort, Sport or R+. I beg to differ: the modes actually change your driving behaviour. I’ve stuck the cars in Comfort on the drive home and had a sudden urge to hypermile it all the way. But sticking it in Sport or R+ makes a very compelling case for really sticking the boot in.
  • The car has oodles of grip but due to the relatively stiff suspension setup and the stiffness of the chassis casually throwing it around a roundabout like I used to in Peapod will trigger the ESC far more often. I have to get used to this new handling feel.
  • But on that token, switching from torsion beam to multilink does wonders for road contact AND ride quality. The ride is firm but pliant (favourite reviewer word), but in the 9th gen Civic it was actually quite crashy over bumps and that’s with 55 profile tyres.

  • The teardrop shifter with the counterweight makes a subtle but appreciable difference in the ease of shifting. if this makes sense, it’s now much easier to sense the pace of shifting so you don’t make the car uncomfortable by thrashing the gearbox. It’s also much easier to find second now.
  • Alcantara steering wheel is really nice. But I also do wonder how it’ll feel in about 3 years lol
  • I do agree that the display and the reverse camera etc. aren’t in great resolution, but again hey, it works, and I’m paying for the drive.

More notes now that I’ve gone for a late night drive (but forgot to download the dashcam footage):

  • Lane Keep Assist actually keeps your car in the lane pretty well. Adaptive cruise control cuts out almost all of the annoying work I have to do dealing with weird drivers on the freeway. This means the car effectively is capable of Level 3 Autonomy, but currently insists on human steering input at least once a minute otherwise it gets grumpy (I didn’t let it go further because I suspect it would disengage and/or stop the car in the middle of the highway)
  • The auto headlight feature includes hi-beam, which works I would say about 90% effectively. Australia’s regional back roads are a challenge because there’s a lot of crests and dips but also extremely reflective signs and sometimes they shone so brightly the sensors got confused and dipped my hi-beams and refused to turn them back on again unless I manually intervened
  • I’ve now discovered that a common complaint among FK8 drivers of multiple trims is that Android Auto navigation really intrusively activates the turn-by-turn display on the dash. I’ve tried turning it off multiple times by deleting the widget from my display lineup, and reinstalling Android Auto and disabling it, but the bloody thing keeps activating itself! Not to mention it is pretty much set to 1km in advance and can’t be changed, so instead of my lovely boost gauge or whatever I want to see, I keep getting the bloody thing in my face when all I need is to look at the map on the touchscreen.
  • The touchscreen isn’t that bad. You just have to touch it as little as possible
  • I’m starting to appreciate the criticism that the steering feels “a bit numb” or the chassis “isn’t playful” like the Hyundai. It’s best felt throwing the car around roundabouts or doing sudden jinks. When the reviewer says the car feels “planted” it means that it uses sheer mechanical grip and the chassis’ dogged determination to keep the wheels firmly in contact with the road at all times. It is purposeful and hefty. The i30N does a bit of a hop and a skitter, but frankly, it also feels hefty mainly because compared to the Civic it’s a fatass.
  • The ride and throttle response mapping between Comfort, Sport and R+ mode is very noticeable. And to be honest, so too is the increased damping rate and stiffer rear sway bar. Even driving on a near perfectly flat road with the cruise control on, switching from R+ to Sport to Comfort changes the quality of the ride. I’m also starting to come around to the idea that maybe the Honda engineers were right not to allow the driver to mix and match steering, damping rates and throttle response between the modes. Comfort mode is for when I’m chauffering my mother around. The full response and power on tap in R+ mode requires certain conditions and commitment.
  • As is with true manuals there is no protection from accidentally grinding the gears. I am ashamed to admit that I did this ever so slightly when slamming into second on a hard launch. The launch is difficult. But it is very much in its element when already rolling. I don’t know what the guy in the Ford Ranger was thinking trying to drag me up the on-ramp :fu::joy:
  • The fake engine note in R+ mode is “helpful”. Not exactly pleasant, but helpful, because aside from the turbo noises which are pretty subtle in themselves, the engine’s actually pretty quiet. This is actually good for when I just want to drive normally and play tunes. On the other hand the road noise is significant mainly due to the stupid profile tyres (the cabin sound deadening is a significant improvement), so long road trips on anything other than a perfect surface may be a bit of a chore…
  • I still haven’t found the true limits of the lateral grip of this car because to do that would be like playing in traffic with a blindfold on. There are some roads that will allow me to do this but it’ll take some time to get there, but better obviously would be a track. Speaking of which I have a contact to get in touch with now…
  • Fuel economy isn’t bad. After 30% freeway, 30% heavy traffic, 30% winding B-road in a reasonable fashion, and 10% driving like I’m on meth, I’m returning 7.9L/100km. I think on the Michelin Pilot Sports my regular FK2 Civic would be getting mid 7s. On the less sporty tyre it would have been 7.3.

#4

First, happy new year. 2021 starts exactly where 2020 left off but maybe we can see how the latter half might go if the nuclear war clock doesn’t strike midnight…

On a happier note yet more thoughts about the Type R:

  • I fucking scratched the tip of my left mirror :cry: on a pole that was placed too close to the kerb because I was focusing on not scraping my very-not-fixable 20 inch rims. It’s small but it bothers me a lot. Good thing I have paint insurance specifically for this kind of issue :laughing: . Wonder if I can get a 2-for-1 for the extremely tiny stone chip on the right skirt…


wait this isn’t exactly a happy thought aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • The turning circle is a fair bit larger than previously. I think this is because of the longer wheelbase. At 11.4m it’s now just insufficient to do a U-turn across a standard width suburban road which is actually somewhat inconvenient. Reverse parking and getting the angle right is noticeably more difficult.
  • I’m finally used to the braking distance on hard driving. It’s abnormally short and when going full chat the appropriate time to stop is usually about half a second past the point where you think “I am definitely going to die if I don’t brake now”. Let’s say one’s doing a hillclimb/downhill, and the top speed before a hairpin is about 100km/h. The 100-0 stopping distance is 32m (in the dry) and the tightest hairpin I can take at 50km/h, which means I only need to apply the brakes a measly 4 car lengths before the turn-in. I will note that the brakes in the regular grocery-getter Fk2 (i.e. Peapod) weren’t half bad either, stopping in 34.5m on stock tyres (and less again on my Pilot Sport 4s), the main difference being the bite feel is more progressive and doesn’t fade in the Type R. It’s quite mind-boggling that the brake feel and fade is indeed improved compared to the original Type R using a lighter floating-disc design.


yes, cross-drilled looks awesome, but these cool better

  • This said, I have noticed that despite being mostly fuss-free, the rear end can get a little lively under heavy braking while downshifting (over a crest). For a sample of the brakes in action, here was a quick test on one of those weird Australian roads where the speed limit “should be assumed to be 100” because it’s not marked, but the powers that be didn’t actually bother to rezone the limit for the hairpin complex, meaning one can go ham and not actually be doing anything illegal…


yeah at this point I was still not used to the car so I wasn’t quite giving it maximum
  • On this note I’m using footage from my security cameras, but maybe I should invest in another camera from face height instead of near roof height with wide-angle… then again I may have another integrated solution for this which I will discuss later.
  • I am now quite used to the power. I didn’t think I would be saying this, but at 306hp the car feels a bit too easy to drive. So I, uh, am going to upgrade it.
  1. K&N Performance Air Filter. There were 2 main choices for the Type R and this one racked up universally favourable impressions with no noted issues. We’ll see whether it’s actually cleanable. As dyno’d should be good for about a 5Hp and 5Nm (across range) increase. Also the exhaust sound is a little fruitier in cabin which is a small bonus.
  2. ECU reflash. The two major options here are K-Tuner and HONDATA. After some research it looks like there’s a shop near me that’s been doing Hondas since 1980 and is highly regarded. So I’ve dropped them a line and will see what they say when they open again about doing a jailbreak and reflash. They’ll probably try to convince me to drop in an intercooler and get the exhaust done too. I could be tempted, because to be honest the intercooler really does a lot for overheating, and the HKS straight pipes system comes with the promise to reduce that annoying turbo resonance at highway speeds… all up I’m told that with those done I could run tunes from anywhere between 320-360hp.
  3. but despite the tail waggle under braking I don’t think I’ll be getting any coil over kits. This is still my daily driver road car. Though if I ever do track it and want to do it more than once, I’ll definitely consider some 18 inch wheels and semi-slicks.