Sometimes Honda can be just a little too clever for its own good. Look no further than its souped-up Civic.
This Japanese brand is so determined to forge its own way that it ignores the usual hot-hatch shortcut of supercharging or turbocharging to max its small capacity engine. Instead a worship of natural aspiration places it behind the pack for pulling power.
Still, you have to admire the work of art that is the engine. Just how Honda managed to make it so flexible and yet so ferocious is mind-boggling. It is smooth and leisurely at low revs, goes feral at 5400 rpm and stays on the ragged edge until 8000 revs.
There’s also a snappy, sweet-slotting six-speed gearbox and an effective clutch to master the high-revving heart.
Noise levels at its snarling peak assail the senses in an enjoyable way. Try an extra 14 decibels over its cruising levels.
Despite the fun factor, the engine is perversely the car’s Achilles heel. It falls short on outputs and requires a never-ending commitment to pursuing redline which causes its thirst for premium petrol to soar and makes the 50-litre fuel tank seem even smaller.
It’s a pity, as the electric power steering is rewarding and faithful, the chassis is one of the best front-steerers around and grip levels are glorious. The ride is always firm, good bump absorption marred by a stiffness on suspension droop, while the brakes are beneficial.
Honda boasts about engine reliability in Type Rs. Trouble is build quality is variable with too many rattles and variable panel fit.
Lacking too is enough adjustment to either seat or steering so that tall types can see the top of the instrument panel. Rear vision is also crook.
Practicality is so-so with a space-saver spare on board and just four seats however the storage, rear row and boot space is commendable.
We’re also fans of the seats with excellent support, comfort and shaping.
A Civic Type R on song, on the right road, is a glorious experience. The hills really are alive with the sound of music. However it proves too highly strung, too often, to topple its foes.