Honda Civic Type R GT – the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Back in the 1980s I drove a ‘loadsamoney’ Porsche 911 with a ridiculous rear spoiler. Nowadays you need to own a Lamborghini for anything quite so outrageous – or perhaps a Honda Civic Type R? That’s right, the company that makes lawnmowers also offers a crazy version of every grandmother’s favourite runabout. The £35k Type R is loaded with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine churning out 316bhp. It has a ‘modest’ 0-60mph time of around 5.8 seconds but equipped with four-wheel drive, this car goes faster than a stabbed rat. Top speed is 169mph – although don’t expect fuel economy of 36.7mpg (combined) attempting that. Join us for a May day dash in the Mad Hatter of hatchbacks…

Hot hatchbacks – sounds like a moniker from the last century. Golf GTI, Peugeot 205 GTI, Ford Escort XR3 – remember them? It may be 2018 but manufacturers haven’t forgotten wannabe supercars for those on a tight budget.

The best picks of the bunch couldn’t be more different. The subtly styled Golf R is a class act minus the bling – the Honda Civic Type R is laden with spoilers and side skirts.

Definitely not one for the shy retiring type, the R outpunches the ridiculous Focus RS for in your face looks. Even a 1990s Subaru Impreza looks like the Plain Jane sister in comparison.

It may be my age but it took me some time to get used to all the attention. Truly, it’s off the chart for silliness.

The rear end is a concept drawing for a spaceship from the next Star Wars movie. And there’s an extra exhaust pipe too – just in case two weren’t quite enough to get you noticed.

At least those pipes don’t make too ridiculous a noise – thank heavens the middle one has been designed to reduce the audible fireworks.

This is no ordinary Civic but it does get the standard big boot, a spacious interior and all the rest of it. Otherwise, the motor that holds the lap record for the fastest front-wheel drive car around the Nurburging goes a bit nuts.

Beefed up suspension and a range of drive settings from ‘comfort’ to ‘+R’ ensure this Honda can serve as an everyday family car or a weekend track star.

Sure, the infotainment system isn’t the clearest – buy a Golf R for that – and the trim is nowhere near VW standards but point it around a corner and the Type R absolutely flies.

To be honest, I’m more of a Golf R man these days but if you like to hang around public cars parks and leave your windows open with the music playing loud (you know who you are), this is definitely a step up from the Focus RS.

Are you bling enough to drive the Honda Civic Type-R?

It might come down to whether you like wearing jewellery or not; if you prefer bright shirts to plain; whether a personal number plate is high on your list of priorities – if you want an in your face car or not.

The difference between the Golf R and the Civic Type-R is massive. Both offer startling performance – the Golf is more refined – but they couldn’t be more different cars.

The Honda just shouts ‘look at me’, all those spoilers, bling red touches and mad styling. The VW is more restrained, under the wire, restrained.

Reviewers will prattle on about the subtleties of performance and handling but you really have to decide which kind of person you are first before considering the rest…

Will cars like the Honda Civic Type-R be future dinosaurs?

Remember that episode of Top Gear when Clarkson drove the Aston Martin Vantage V12 through the Welsh mountains? He said cars like that were the last of the line and it mad his sad.

The Type-R isn’t int he same category, of course. But driving something quite so outrageous and bonkers has made me think we may not be seeing many more hot hatchbacks like this in the future.

As electric, driverless and fuel cell cars slowly take over – and believe me, they will – people will start to look back on motors like the Golf R and Focus ST and the Type-R as crazy transportation machines ‘they’ used to enjoy going crazy in way back in the past.

It’s kind of sa, I know. I can’t see us driving a petrol-powered Type-R in the future. The name will survive but the fact is, we simply won’t have the need for screaming hot hatchbacks in the future.

Sad? Maybe, but we can’t wollow in nostalgia. Time has come to move on…

Still a rocket ship hot hatch – the Honda Civic Type R Black Edition

Here it is then – the last of the current Honda Civic hot hatchbacks. The Type R has legendary status – a Golf GTI for people who like a bit more bling.

And there’s certainly plenty of that about this GT Black Edition. Unlike the understated VW, the Honda has a whopping rear spoiler, red tweaks to the aero bodyshell and a in-yer-face interior.

The aggressive styling suggests peak power and after just oe day behind the wheel, I can tell you it won’t disappoint. Thanks largely to a super slick gearbox, it breaks the six second barrier to 60mph and keeps on going to 167mph.

The Type R is also blistering quick around corners and feel like it has just come off the Nurburgring. All that before you even press the R+ button and increase the race feel of this brilliant little car.

More tomorrow after I’ve had a lie down…


It’s windy and the Honda Jazz is light – squeaky bottom time…


I’m not exactly looking forward to my drive to London this morning. It’s windy, the Jazz is light and with relatively high sides, well it could be squeaky bottom time.

Quite often it’s the cars you look forward to most that prove the most disappointing.

Now, I knew the little Honda wasn’t going to be a pocket rocket but this EX Navi automatic is expensive, underpowered and jolly noisy when pushed hard.

Models further down the range will no doubt be snapped up by their zillions. But truly, you’d be quite bonkers to buy this £17.5k model.

It may have the most equipment in the Jazz range but it’s definitely not the best version.

Space represents no frontier for the new Honda Jazz


My old English teacher used to say that if you don’t have anything good to say about something, don’t say anything at all.

So, I’ve spent the morning pouring over the Jazz, making a (short) list of features that give me pleasure on a wet February day.

As explained, this EX Navi version has lots of gizmos as standard. But most people won’t buy this top spec car. So ignoring those luxuries, the best feature of the Jazz is the huge amount of interior space.

By placing the fuel tank forward and underneath the cabin, the back seats can be placed further back, freeing up tons of rear leg room.

There a surprisingly large boot too, masses of headroom, plus doorbins and a useful centre console for nicnacs.

Space then, is where the Jazz scores. So, just spend £13,500 on the entry level model and suddenly it makes great sense…

There’s very little to like about the CVT gearbox in the Honda Jazz


There’s very little to like about the CVT automatic transmission in the Honda Jazz.

It’s fine if you are pootling around town but anywhere other than that and the gearbox is woefully inadequate. Buy the cheaper manual and save some money.

Worst of all, any attempt to wind up the engine revs results in a noisy, none-jazz like whine. Yes, the CVT won’t be music to your ears.

In a bid to squeeze some performance from the drivetrain I’ve been driving in Sport mode. The revs pick up slightly but the results are just the same.

And quite what Honda was thinking by fitting a pair of steering wheel-mounted flappy paddles for the gearbox is beyond me. They are quite pointless and rather silly.

The top spec Honda Jazz costs £17.4k – yikes is it trying to be a Mini?



Some of the best jazz I’ve heard has been in a tiny pub. No fancy stage, lighting or fru-fru. Nope, just basic stuff that ticks all the musical boxes.

The problem with this top spec little car is that it tries to be something it isn’t. The best Honda Jazz models are the entry-level ones.

They are value for money and are bought by people who simply want to get from A to B without any fuss.

They certainly don’t want a lane departure warning system, a big screen sat nav with reverse parking sensors, seats that fold flat into a double bed, or a ‘start’ button on the dashboard.

Well, they might but they certainly don’t want to pay £17.5k for the pleasure.

The Jazz EX Navi is rubbished by the MINI, Fiat 500 and  DS3. Buy a cheaper version and you will feel much happier…

The latest Honda Jazz looks like a tribute act for aerodynamic jelly moulds


I woke up at 4am this morning. I was worried about what nice things I could say about the new Honda Jazz. Specifically, the £17.5k model parked outside my bedroom.

I was a fan of the original Jazz. Yep, even though the silly really doesn’t match the model, it stuffed every other small car in the sector.

For the reliable, practical and spacious movement of people, the Jazz earned a reputation as a remarkable piece of kit. It was a highly sought after car.

Then this new version arrived. What have they done to the Jazz style? The distinctive looks of the previous model have been plastered over – replaced with a tribute to aerodynamic jelly moulds.

I know all the best of Jazz features will still be there inside but Honda has seriously mucked about with the looks.

Then there’s the price. Manufacturers generally spec up cars for motoring writers but this EX Navi defeats the whole point of owning a Jazz.

I’m awake now. More tomorrow after we have been for steer…

Would you rather have pointless cruise or sat nav in your Honda Civic?


Well, there it is then – an object lesson in why you should always read the manual. Switching off the ECON button transformed the Civic Sport. Well, made it moderately better!

I still don’t understand why any car with cruise control (pointless in the UK), alloy foot pedals (really?) and privacy glass (bling) doesn’t have sat nav.

That is even more annoying with the Civic Sport because it has a large, 7-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard.

Overall then, the Civic Sport is a decent hatchback that is styled differently to most of the competition. It’s economical (with that button pushed in!), roomy and comfortable but NOT sporty. Nope, you’ll have to save up for the Type R to tick that box.