Honda gains type approval

You don’t need to be quite as much of a dyed-in-the-wool hot hatch enthusiast to own this second generation Civic Type-R as you had to be with its predecessor - but it certainly helps.

After all, it’s hard to think of anything else remotely mainsteam that’s quite so much built around its engine.

If you like it, you’ll love this Civic: if you don’t, you’ll fail to see the point of the thing. And that’s despite all Honda’s efforts to make it the 2.0-litre 198bhp i-VTEC engine a little more user-friendly.

Where before, you had to rev the car to nearly 7,000rpm to get it to go, there’s now a broader working range for the variable-valve and camshaft timing technology, stretching from just over 5,000 to a stratospheric 8,000rpm.

A clever i-VTEC indicator just to the right of the digital speedometer is illuminated once the revs rise above 5,200rpm.

That sounds good on paper but it still means pulling power that’s nothing like as accessible as it would be in a less frantic, less characterful but more conventional engine.

This Honda, after all, still only offers just 192Nm of torque, compared to 320Nm in something comparable like a Ford Focus ST which gets going from much lower down the rev range.

But then, if you want load-lugging torque, buy a diesel. Presumably, you wanted a hot hatch in the first place for the fun of the thing, the aural thrills and the ever-present temptation to take the twisty way home.

All this is a present and correct part of Type-R motoring. Unfortunately, the primal scream the first generation model offered when coming on song has been toned down a little but the dash-mounted short-throw close-ratio 6-speed gearbox is much improved so that the extra cog-swapping that’s necessary to keep rapid progress with this engine is no hardship. If you’re quick with your shifts, you’ll find that sixty from rest is just 6.6s away en route to a top speed of 146mph, about the same as you’ll get from a Golf GTI and good enough to put this Honda in amongst the faster cars in this sector. But as any Astra VXR owner will tell you, straightline speed isn’t everything.