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The Honda Civic and conjures up the school or shopping run, but the Type R is the rebellious bad boy in the line-up, says RAY MASSEY

Think of Honda and you’ll no doubt conjure up an image of a safe, reliable, practical range of family cars such as the CR-V SUV, mainstay of countless school runs.

It’s the sensible option — the car you’ll settle down with after ill-advised, but character-forming, wild flings. Or as one worldly-wise colleague put it: ‘You’ll date The Fonz, but you’ll marry Richie Cunningham.’

Well, even Honda has a real rebellious bad boy in its line-up. And I’ve just been driving it.

Priced from £46,995, the Honda Civic Type R is the people’s supercar offering the sort of driving thrills, excitement and engagement you could expect from a performance model costing three times as much.

It’s a mainstream Civic hatchback with added rocket boosters. Other than sharing the Civic name, behind the wheel, you’d be hard pushed to realise they’re related.

Sporty: Can Honda's Civic Type R change perception of the brand? Sporty: Can Honda's Civic Type R change perception of the brand?

Sporty: Can Honda’s Civic Type R change perception of the brand?

Riding on 19 in matt-black alloy wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, it’s 8mm lower and 90mm wider than the standard hybrid Civic e:HEV, and even 13mm lower and 15mm wider than the previous- generation Type R.

As a four-seater, it loses the standard Civic’s rear centre seat. It is powered by an efficient 329 hp 2-litre, four-cylinder VTEC turbocharged petrol engine linked to a smoothly slick and precise six-speed manual gearbox.

After driving so many automatics and paddle shifts, it was lovely to get back to the full hands-on engagement and fun of a proper gearstick shift and racing-style stainless steel pedals. Acceleration feels and is swift from rest to 62 mph in 5.4 seconds up to a top speed of 171 mph.

But it’s the Type R’s sure-footedness navigating tight bends and punching hard out of them where the nimbleness and grip of this front-wheel drive (not all-wheel drive) hot-hatch really shows.

With an aerodynamic wing and a cluster of three exhaust pipes out back, it has a nice revving soundtrack at peak performance, and satisfying blips when you work back down the gears.

Official fuel economy is an ambitious 34.4 mpg with CO2 emissions of 186 g/km.

The launch of the all-new Civic Type R comes as Honda celebrates 25 years of the Japanese car firm’s iconic high-performance hatchback – and 50 years of the Civic. Embodying the ‘spirit of racing’ it is also the fastest and most powerful Civic Type R to date.

The cockpit interior is fairly stripped out minimalist and race-track inspired. It feels incredibly well engineered, right down to the aluminium centre console, polarised gun metal air vents, and the tip of the smooth alloy gear-knob.

The new supportive lightweight sports seats are mounted lower to provide optimal posture support and finished in a bold but devilishly fetching bright red, with flooring to match.

There’s even a narrow strip of lights on the top of the 10.2-inch dashboard display which illuminate in a strip to match your red-lining revs. And if out on a circuit, you can read your track times and how much G-force you’re pulling.

Priced from £46,995, the Honda Civic Type R is the people's supercar Priced from £46,995, the Honda Civic Type R is the people's supercar

Priced from £46,995, the Honda Civic Type R is the people’s supercar

The cockpit interior is fairly stripped out minimalist and race-track inspired. It feels incredibly well engineered The cockpit interior is fairly stripped out minimalist and race-track inspired. It feels incredibly well engineered

 The cockpit interior is fairly stripped out minimalist and race-track inspired. It feels incredibly well engineered

It is powered by an efficient 329 hp 2-litre, four-cylinder VTEC turbocharged petrol engine linked to a smoothly slick and precise six-speed manual gearbox It is powered by an efficient 329 hp 2-litre, four-cylinder VTEC turbocharged petrol engine linked to a smoothly slick and precise six-speed manual gearbox

It is powered by an efficient 329 hp 2-litre, four-cylinder VTEC turbocharged petrol engine linked to a smoothly slick and precise six-speed manual gearbox

Official fuel economy is an ambitious 34.4 mpg with CO2 emissions of 186 g/km Official fuel economy is an ambitious 34.4 mpg with CO2 emissions of 186 g/km

Official fuel economy is an ambitious 34.4 mpg with CO2 emissions of 186 g/km

It's a mainstream Civic hatchback with added rocket boosters It's a mainstream Civic hatchback with added rocket boosters

It’s a mainstream Civic hatchback with added rocket boosters

The Honda Type R is a real fast and furious boy-racer hot -hatch and a great drive ¿ though I doubt your parents would approve The Honda Type R is a real fast and furious boy-racer hot -hatch and a great drive ¿ though I doubt your parents would approve

The Honda Type R is a real fast and furious boy-racer hot -hatch and a great drive – though I doubt your parents would approve

There's even a narrow strip of lights on the top of the 10.2-inch dashboard display which illuminate in a strip to match your red-lining revs There's even a narrow strip of lights on the top of the 10.2-inch dashboard display which illuminate in a strip to match your red-lining revs

There’s even a narrow strip of lights on the top of the 10.2-inch dashboard display which illuminate in a strip to match your red-lining revs

Japan’s Honda is, at heart, a company of engineers and engineering excellence is at the beating heart of everything they do. And the lean, mean Civic Type R is the pinnacle of this finessing.

There are three main drive settings: comfort for tootling around town which it does surprisingly well, sport for more vigorous engagement, and track-focussed ‘Type R’ which tightens up the sinews to the max.

Honda explains: ‘The +R mode is the most performance-focused driver setting and remains the optimal choice for track use. This mode offers faster throttle response, and a sportier, controlled ride via the adaptive damper system. The result is more direct and linear power and steering feel, offering the ultimate Type R experience.’

Don’t try this at home, but for more experienced drivers, it adds: ‘In +R mode, the traction control system and the vehicle stability assist (VSA) system function can be completely turned off, allowing a greater yaw and slip rate. To do this, users must press the VSA button for five seconds while in +R mode.’

Will it fit in my garage? Honda Civic Type R 

Price on the road: £47,645

Grade and engine: £46,995

Colour and trim: £650

Seats: 4

Length: 4594 mm

Width: 1890 mm

Height: 1401 mm

Wheelbase: 2734 mm

Drive: front-wheel drive

Kerb weight: 1429 kg

Max. permissible weight: 1800 kg

Engine: 2.0 litre, four-cylinder VTEC TURBO

Power: 329 horsepower (PS)

Transmission: 6-speed manual

0 to 62 mph: 5.4 seconds

Top speed: 171mph (275km/hr)

Fuel economy: 34.4mpg

CO2 emissions: 186 g/km

Wheels: 19′ matte black alloy 265/30 ZR19

Tyres: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S

 

Rounding off the +R experience is the increased engine noise which aims to deliver – and largely does – a ‘more intense driving experience’. Or put more bluntly: it provides satisfying levels of brrrrmmmmm brrrrmmmmm.

In a world first for the Type R you can also choose ‘individual’ to tweak the settings to your own personal preference.

Honda explains: ‘It allows users to configure settings that best suit their needs, preferences, and local driving environment.

‘Users can individually configure the throttle response, steering feel, suspension, engine sound, performance metre, and rev matching systems and save their settings for future use.’

My own car in Championship White cost £46,995 on the road. Other colours include Rallye Red, Racing Blue, Crystal Black and Sonic Grey Pearls.

Honda says all aspects of the new Civic Type R have been reengineered to heighten the sense of driving exhilaration. The exterior trim has been aerodynamically modelled and fine-tuned using racing-inspired data to control air flow for greater stability and enhanced downforce.

A new rear spoiler – also available in carbon fibre – is designed to accentuate the sleek roofline and contribute along with the lower-slung posture to the car’s aerodynamic performance and muscular appearance.

The stiffened chassis is designed to dissipate energy away from the cabin but does mean quite a hard ride at times, especially over Britain’s increasingly bumpy potholed roads.

There are plenty of safety and stability features to protect the driver and passengers, but pedestrian protection has also been improved with a new ‘pop-up’ bonnet to soften the blow and mitigate injuries from the hard engine beneath in the event of a collision.

All in all, the Honda Type R is a real fast and furious boy-racer hot -hatch and a great drive – though I doubt your parents would approve.

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How to save on car insurance: Ten top tips to cut the cost in just a few minutes

Mercedes-Benz’s new all-electric EQE SUV is shocking

Mercedes-Benz’s new hi-tech, all-electric EQE SUV went on sale in the UK this week — and it’s not just the cost of electricity to charge it that’ll shock you.

Prices for the luxury zero-emissions 4×4 start at a whopping £90,560 for the EQE 350 4MATIC AMG Line, up to the Business Class version from £112,260. The more powerful EQE 500 4MATIC costs from £108,760 for the AMG Line Premium up to £121,766 for top of the range.    

Expensive: Prices for the luxury zero-emissions 4x4 start at a whopping £90,560 for the EQE 350 4MATIC AMG Line Expensive: Prices for the luxury zero-emissions 4x4 start at a whopping £90,560 for the EQE 350 4MATIC AMG Line

Expensive: Prices for the luxury zero-emissions 4×4 start at a whopping £90,560 for the EQE 350 4MATIC AMG Line

The zero emissions 350 has 215 kW dual electric motors that propel it from rest to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, while the 500’s 300 kW electric motors do that in 4.9 seconds. A rival to BMW’s battery-powered iX SUV, the EQE’s electric driving distance ranges from 324 miles in the 500 up to 334 miles in the 350.

Pay car insurance in lump save for savings 

Motorists could save up to £65 each year by paying their annual car insurance premium in a single lump sum rather than as monthly payments, says new research from Comparethemarket.com.

The comparison site puts the average annual cost at £688 paid monthly, against £623 as a single lump sum.And that gap has increased by £12 year-on-year as average annual premiums have risen by £71, or by £83 paid monthly.

Advice: Motorists could save up to £65 each year by paying their annual car insurance premium in a single lump sum Advice: Motorists could save up to £65 each year by paying their annual car insurance premium in a single lump sum

Advice: Motorists could save up to £65 each year by paying their annual car insurance premium in a single lump sum

The rises stem from insurers passing on the higher cost of claims caused by an increase in the value of second-hand cars and higher repair costs.

It comes as a separate survey from Comparethe market.com found one in three motorists (35 per cent) have struggled to afford the rising cost of driving and four in ten (40 per cent) fear they will have to stop driving if costs continue to rise.

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