The Honda Civic Type R never needs a long introduction. Any Honda worth its metal to get that badge stuck onto it will always be a beast of a machine. The newest CTR, the FL5, is already in the Philippines, and reviews will start pouring in sooner than later. But before all that, let’s take a look back at the amazing machine that has set the precedent, the FK8.
Honda Civic Type R FK8: always a force to be reckoned with
The arrival of the FK8 was a milestone for Honda in the Philippines. Before that, many if not all who wanted a car with the fabled red badge had to turn to RHD imports and have them converted. The innards may be the same, but we all know that a conversion, no matter how by the book it’s done can simply not equate to the feel of an LHD unit from the factory.
And so, the first batch was snatched up quickly, as was the second batch. And that was it, no more, no less was brought in.
I’d say it’s a perk of the job being able to drive so many amazing machines, and as a Civic fan, I had to put aside my preconceived notions to be able to come up with a true, accurate, and impartial review, so let’s get to it.
It’s a very big relief that as far as a Civic Type R (CTR) goes, the FK8 takes the form of a hatchback. The Integras were coupes, the NSX too, but a CTR must be a hatchback. Its front and up to the B-Pillar share key elements of the FC Civic sedan, but of course, this one looks more aggressive, true to its badge, if you will.
Up front is a long glossy black grill piece with a honeycomb grill underneath. Dead center is a red H emblem and to the right is a Type R badge. Lower, there’s a totally new (at that time) bumper with horizontal slats in the middle for airflow, and a honeycomb pattern to the sides and in the foglight housings.
The hood has a functional vent, as well as those on the sides of the bumper. That being mentioned, it’s much wider than the normal Civic and that makes way for even wider fenders, which are flared, by the way. Finishing off the front end is a pretty low-hanging faux carbon fiber chin, complete with a red accent strip. (We’ll get to it not being real carbon fiber later on).
Moving to the side you’ll see that the “kit” continues all the way to the side skirts, still with the red accents. The skirts are actually made of two pieces, one accommodates the wider bumpers and the other black piece is clipped beneath it to keep with the sporty look and aero function.
What’s most noticeable are the massive 20″ black alloy wheels wrapped in 245-30 tires. If anything, it’s a pretty good thing that the tires from the factory have pretty strong sidewalls but this is a major point of concern for anyone driving the FK8 Type R. In other markets, it shouldn’t be a problem but on our pothole-riddled roads, “bingkong” is very, very real. Hence, we had to gingerly drive around when we were in the city, and even on rough patches on the highway. Oh, by the way, surprise! The wheels also have a red ring on them.
Another eye-catching detail, or part, if you will, that makes the Type R stand out from the rest of the regular variants are the bright red 4-pot Brembo brake calipers. Gods, red has become synonymous with this special kind of Civic, hasn’t it? Make no mistake, the calipers and 13.8″ rotors are huge, but given the large rims, they look puny. Not a bad thing at all, though.
When you move further to the rear, it starts becoming evident that this isn’t a “Hype R”. Again, it’s a hatchback. A sexy one at that. The CTR has a small wing on the tailgate and a much larger one bolted to its sides. This along with the vortex fins aft of the roofline help improve its overall aerodynamics so these aren’t for-show pieces.
Aside from red, you’ll also see accents in black by way of the aforementioned “mid-wing”, the blacked-out taillight units, and the main spoiler’s flat piece. Overall, it looks a lot cleaner given the Championship White and black motif of this particular unit, but it looks no less attractive on the other colors of the CTR.
A hallmark of the Type R is the triple-tip center exhaust outlets. While the front chin and side skirts are just the right amounts of sporty, the rear skirt is more of a diffuser than a simple body kit part, and its design frames the exhaust tips very well.
Let’s now go back to the fact that the kit pieces are not real carbon fiber. They’re finished in what appears to be a carbon fiber weave, but sadly, they aren’t real CF. We were hoping that they would have gone the extra mile and used real CF, but alas, we have to settle for the plastic variety. Not a deal breaker by any means, but come on, it’s a Type R. That would’ve looked really good and helped in the overall weight of the CTR, but yes, we’ll not dwell on that anymore.
Now let’s hop into the Type R’s cabin. The motif? You guessed it, it’s red and black.
The dashboard is shared between the Type R and the normal FC Civic models, and the only differences are the red (again) accent strips, and (again!) more faux CF panels. In a good mix of sporty and classy, there are also a lot of soft-touch points finished in black.
As you move to the center stack there’s a very conservative 7″ infotainment screen that houses controls for audio and some vehicle settings. Further down is a dual-zone automatic air conditioning control, and a bi-level pocket that’s pretty handy if you have a lot of things you need to stow and secure.
Moving down the center console is the 6-speed manual shift lever that has a throw that feels incredible. If you’ve driven a car with a good short-throw shifter, that already feels nice. But the Type R is heaven to shift. At first, you’ll probably get confused especially if you need to get into 6th, but after some getting used to it, it feels good. Alongside it are toggles for the brake-hold function, the e-brake, and the Drive Mode switch for getting from Comfort to Sport to R+. We’ll get to those later.
And of course, there’s the numbered Civic Type R badge. This one is for real, what you see is FK8 CTR 00000. How’s that for novelty and for making a special car even more special? Ahem, okay, moving on.
Further aft is a deep-recess center console box that comes with two cupholders and a sliding armrest. Unlike the older Type Rs, the armrest is higher and actually usable in the FK8; before, all we had was an armrest delete.
Now on to the driver’s seat, and what sits in front: the gauge cluster. The niftiest feature that was carried into the FK8 from the old Type R models is the needle color. Granted that this gauge is fully-digital, the tachometer needle as well as the temperature and fuel indicators are colored yellow! It was a long time between this and the previous generation CTR, and seeing some small nuances making their way to newer models is always a good sight.
Again, fully digital. With the touch of a button, you can set the information that you want to be displayed on the center screen, from audio information, to fuel consumption, and even a boost gauge, as you can see in the photo above. Controlling is pretty easy using the steering wheel-mounted toggles and buttons, and as with a regular Civic, it’s all intuitive and simple.
Let’s get to the seat(s) more specifically now. In the EK9 CTR, they came with red Recaro SR3 bucket seats. In the FK8 Type R, you get bucket seats as well, and they are more comfortable than the old models. It’s no longer a Recaro, but it looks every bit as impressive. The material sports the same carbon fiber weave but is so much better padded.
The fit in the bucket is snug, but not too tight. Even on a long highway drive, my hefty size didn’t have any aches or pains, and that’s coming from someone who has back problems. The side bolsters are also thick enough to keep you from sliding during more spirited driving through corners.
In the safety department, those all add to a pretty secure drive. Add to that the standard SRS seatbelts that are also finished in red, then you have yourself a clear reminder that you’re in a Type R. It didn’t even matter that they’re bucket seats because as a driver or a passenger, they’re very comfortable to sit in even for an extended period.
One thing about the seats, particularly their seatbacks, is that they’re really wide. If you find yourself sitting in the back, your view will be obstructed, for sure. But that’s not a problem, anyway. The weave on the seatback is mesmerizing enough.
Backseat being mentioned, the Type R can seat 5, but ideally, you limit this to 4 for a safer and more comfortable fit. If you’ve seen the rear seats of the EK9 or the DC2 Integra Type R, you’ll find that the rear seats in the FK8 are very similar. They’re also finished in black material and have the trademark red stitching common in this model.
The ride in the back as far as fit goes is decent. The recess in the seat makes for a snug fit, too, and head- and legroom are pretty good. The only issue you’ll find is that the ride is a tad bit bouncy in the back, which is understandable. It’s a race car after all, and being able to seat more than two is really a bonus in a Type R of the hatchback (and even coupe) sort.
As much as people’s space is impressive, so is the space for cargo. Surprisingly, the tailgate opens to a rather sizeable trunk. For a hatchback, this is more than decent, and a plus factor is that the rear seatbacks fold (almost) flat. Should you find the need for more space to pack your things or wares, the FK8 has you covered!
Now to the most important factoids. Performance and comfort. We’ll start with the former.
The FK8 Type R is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, the K20C1. See, this engine is one of the many reasons why the next Type R was so eagerly anticipated. The venerated B16B was already potent with about 185 HP. In the FK8, you get 310 HP and a very impressive 400 Nm of pull.
Let’s go back to the drive Mode switch we mentioned earlier. We won’t dwell on it, but Comfort is self-explanatory, Sport gives you a bit more grunt, and R+ transforms the FK8 into the track machine that it was born to be. The first mode is most ideal for city driving, the second for more spirited bursts on stretches or twisties, and R+ for the same stretches or twisties, but with a heck of a lot more beastliness. In a great way.
In highlighting the R+ mode, the steering wheel feel becomes tighter, the throttle response becomes quicker, traction control isn’t as active, and the suspension becomes tauter. This is perfect on the track, and with the engine’s capability to push you back into your seat during acceleration, you have yourself an amazing machine. Truly.
But it isn’t all straight and open roads. Having been able to take the Type R on the mountains’ twisties was an ethereal experience. Back then, we only had our feet and hands to rely on, but the technology they put in this car is amazing.
One such feature is a rev-matching toggle that allows you to keep your revs in the ideal range when downshifting; that keeps you in the power band to rocket you out of a corner better and quicker. Yes, I tried it out without so much of the “quicker” part, but being part of the old(er) guard, I still had more fun blipping like we used to do then. The pedals are placed comfortably close to each other and the pedal feel is superb from the clutch, brakes, and accelerator.
Now we move to comfort.
Earlier on we already mentioned that the seats in front are exceptionally comfortable despite being racing/bucket seats. We also touched on the ride quality in the rear seats, but now allow us to mention that sitting in the front is very much like riding in a regular non-Type R Civic. Yes, you’ll feel a little bounce given the added weight and sportier suspension parts, but it’s not at all jarring or rattling.
We did say that neither I nor my friend needed SalonPas or Omega Pain Killer after our trip, and that’s a testament to the FK8 Type R’s ride comfort and quality.
When the first batch of the FK8 arrived, it retailed for PHP 2,980,000. Regardless, it sold out quickly. A second batch was allocated for the Philippines, but that already had its price bumped up to PHP 3,210,000. Regardless, it sold out even quicker.
The novelty, the soul, the identity, and the legacy of the Type R do command a premium after all, but for the hardcore (AKA those who can easily afford it), the price tag was something they can look past just to get a piece of this “rare paps” pie.
After a long day of driving and shooting the Type R, reality has again dawned on me. The FL5 Civic Type R has already been released in the Philippines and the world over. The successor to the great and amazing machine that is the FK8 is all but waiting to claim the throne, and with what we’ve been told and what we’ve seen, it may be able to do so easily.
At that point, I couldn’t help but think about a more perfect way to correlate this changing of the guard, that despite a newer, more sophisticated, and technologically superior model coming in to replace a hallowed and ever so potent older model, the outgoing model can and will always remain a standard on its own.
Enter Terminator Genisys, where Arnold’s T-800 was already aged, old, with a few hiccups and grinding gears here and there. And when his abilities and capabilities were questioned, he responded with a line most apt to the FK8 Type R: “I am old, not obsolete”.
The FK8 may have already seen its last sunset as an available production model Type R, and a newer FL5 is set to inevitably take its place. As the now-old model Type R rides off into the horizon and into the dark – whether in a warehouse or a garage – somewhere where it is waiting to be used in its still-practical daily driveability or unleashed in all its beastly track-ready glory, remember, it is old, but it is not obsolete. And personally, even with the advent of better performance and technologies, and in a manner of speaking, I don’t think it will ever be. Not for many years to come.
Not by a long shot.