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Driven: Honda Civic Type-R LSD

Hardcore opinion splitter

Type-R spells hardcore thrills; Type-R means revs aplenty; Type-R brings out the racer in the meekest of drivers. And in Civic form, it divides opinion like no other car...

Honda Civic Type-R LSD

Honda Civic Type-R LSD

 
That engine is another talking point. Forget the chatter about it lacking in torque - that's just a cliche spouted by those who don't get Type-R, as well as those in love with the grunty push delivered by the turbo opposition
Before we get to the brass tacks, it's interesting to note that half of the Octane office hated this car with a passion - and the other half absolutely adored it.

In an era when carmakers are being increasingly accused of producing identikit cars, the Civic Type-R (or CTR to its fans) is a true breath of fresh air - its interior is concept car wacky, the exterior is outlandish, and with an 8200rpm rev limit, the engine powers a completely different driving experience to all of its rivals.

Available only in Championship White (a Type-R calling card, it seems) if you want the limited slip differential (LSD), it's not a car for shinking violets. Boy racers will pick on you, the police will buzz you at every opportunity, and other drivers will generally treat you with disdain. But that's their problem, not yours - because deep down, you know that they'll fail to understand the engineering brilliance that underpins certain aspects of this car - that is, the engine and transmission.

You read right. If you want a CTR with LSD, you can only get it with a white car... and you'll pay a £925 premium in the process. Have they lost their senses? Not at all - it's just part of the Type-R heritage.

On the road, the CTR divides opinions, too. That Helical LSD certainly works a treat once you've dialled-in to its nuances - even before your corner's apex, you can give major fabs of throttle, and it just digs in and pulls the CTR round with commitment that no electronic system could possibly match. You can also pull out of a greasy side-road with as much throttle as you like - the wheel writhes agreeably in your hands, but nowhere near as violently as its non-LSD counterpart.

More interestingly, the clever diff works more transparently than other similarly equipped front drivers - although the pay-off seems to be slightly deader steering response than hhe standard CTR. More worryingly still, it's a much number steer than its breadvan predecessor.

The overall handling remains superbly neutral, though, and the steering delightfully direct. Ride is stiff-legged as you'd expect, and damping isn't quite supple enough to deal with British B-roads. In these circumstances, the Focus ST would leave it for dead... but then, we suspect the CTR would turn the tables on a track.

That engine is another talking point. Forget the chatter about it lacking in torque - that's just a cliche spouted by those who don't get Type-R, as well as those in love with the grunty push delivered by the turbo opposition. In truth, the CTR pulls with vigour from 1000rpm, leaving it with a 7000rpm-plus power band to play with. From 5500rpm, the engine note hardens and power continues to come in an unstoppable wave - and just at the point where most rivals give up the fight, the CTR rolls up its sleeves and keeps on revving. We love it.

Especially considering it comes with a free BTCC style soundtrack.

Critics will bemoan the low gearing (and it could certainly pull longer ratios), as well as the lack of a 'step' in the power deliver that older Type-Rs had, and we can sympathise with that. In fact, despite the impressive standing start acceleration figures, the CTR never quite feels animal quick in the way its prececessor does - and perhaps that's down to its slightly smoothed out power band, and increased kerbweight (it now comes in at 1267kg).

But just drive it like you stole it, keep the revs over 5000, and forget throttle subtlety through tight bends, and you'll have a whale of a time. You'll pay for this rough-housing at the pumps. You have been warned.

Overall, it's a car of extremes - you really will love or hate it. And kudos to Honda for having the guts to produce such a divisive car in this day and age...

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