The Honda Civic Spinebreaker

Written 2 years ago by Rebecca Donnelly


 

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The hot hatch is back! Not only are we buying more pocket rockets than in any year since the recession began but there’s never been more variety, with almost every big brand boasting something small and fast. It’s been a horsepower party for the humble family hatchback – not only have diesel models become better to drive but petrol versions have never been more efficient.

Despite a huge build up, Honda were a little late to that party but, heh, better late than never. They’ve squeezed 306bhp from the 2.0ltr 4cyl turbo-charged unit for a 0-100kph sprint of just over five seconds. That’s the language of the hot hatch world.

It’s fast. Very fast. Your neck will crack with the power it puts down through that little contact patch they call tyres. There is, however, a big problem. To put all that power down on the road, the car has to be stiff. It feels like someone forgot to take the suspension blocks out for transport. It’s like lying on concrete. You’d understand all this stiffness in a full race car but the Type R is a road car and, with prices starting at €48,750, there isn’t much chance of it seeing any track action.

This leaves us with a conundrum. Here we have a fast hot hatchback that looks great and can set lap records around most tracks in the world but the daily grind of stiff suspension and hard race seats would drive you insane. You might think this car is only for bendy youngsters and my aged spine shouldn’t be concerned – but do you know a millennial with 50 grand?

Cars like this hark back to the days when there was a reason to have a hot hatch, back when most cars were slow and you needed only a GTi badge and bigger engine to make them fast. Today all cars are fast. Even little ones can shift when needed and so the only way your car stands out is if it’s faster than a 70s Formula One car!

Speed comes at a cost. The faster you go, the worse the handling becomes and the more likely you’ll slide off at the corners. To correct this, suspension has to be stiffened which, in turn, will throw passengers around the car. Unless you’ve seat bolsters which make the ride harder still.

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There’s no doubt that if you are looking for that ‘race car feeling’, the Civic Type R will deliver it. The standard model is one of the best hatchbacks on the market today and if only Honda added some of its softness to the Type R, you might sacrifice feeling in the car but keep it in your legs!