After the overwhelming success of the 2001 Civic Type-R (EP3), its 2007 (FN2) successor was eagerly awaited. Everyone expected Honda to produce something bigger, better, and packing enough punch to compete with its turbocharged rivals from Ford, Vauxhall and VW.
But while the EP3 revitalised a stale hot hatch market, the FN2 brought nothing new to the party. Instead, Honda stuck to a mildly reworked version of the previous Type-R’s 198bhp, two-litre, normally-aspirated powerplant. That’s not altogether a bad thing, of course – the FN2’s engine buzzes to nearly 200bhp at 7800rpm. It makes for a rapid and rewarding drive, with sharp steering, taut lowered suspension and confidence- inspiring stoppers. It’s balanced. It’s responsive. It feels alive. On the flip side, the lack of grunt whenever you’re out of the VTEC’s top-end power band means you need to stir the six-speed gearbox to make some real progress.
UK Type-Rs are three-doors (the JDM Type-R is the four-door FD2). All Type-Rs have Alcantara sports seats, sexy skirts, front and rear spoilers, honeycomb grilles and high rear wing. Tasty 18in alloys get the look just right, while 19s are optional (and too big in our opinion).
For 2009 a Championship White edition was launched, featuring all the GT spec along with white paintwork and wheels plus a worthwhile limited slip differential that’s reputed to slash seconds off lap times, if that’s your thing.
And if that’s not hot enough, you need the Type-R Mugen, a 237bhp hardcore nutter special with uprated exhaust, pistons and cams, paddle clutch, big brakes, lightweight body panels, stripped-out interior with Recaro bucket seats and whopping £38,000 price tag. Don’t confuse it with the Civic Type-R Mugen 200 available from Honda dealers, another white-only limited edition with standard engine, limited-slip diff, Mugen bodykit, 19in Lightning alloys, gloss black mirrors and numbered dashboard plaque.
Overall, although they can be hard work to make the most of on the road due to their lack of low down grunt, they are great hot hatches and you won’t be disappointed.
Honda Civic Type R FN2 (2007-2010) stats
Engine: 2ltr 4-cylinderi VTEC
Top speed: 146mph
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
It’s a Honda, yes. But believe it or not, the current (third) generation Civic Type-R has a number of issues. Top of the list (other than the obvious accident damage) is rust – pull back the window rubbers and see if the doors are starting to rot; if so, walk away. Honda issued a recall for faulty handbrakes, so make sure it’s been fixed. There’s a known fault with third- gear synchromesh, so check the change is okay and doesn’t pop out. There can be clutch troubles (listen for knocking or groaning) and alarms can fail. All these faults can be cured under warranty.
HONDA CIVIC TYPE R FN2 TUNING
For an increase in your Type-R’s performance, traditional tuning methods are the place to start. Begin by fitting a sports exhaust for enhanced sound, followed by an induction kit – ideally in conjunction with a remapped ECU. Many ECU tweaks raise the rev limit and lowers the point at which VTEC ‘kicks in’. At this point we’d fit an LSD, lightweight flywheel and clutch. Adding cams plus performance inlet and exhaust manifolds are worthwhile, and uprated TODA engine internals (even a 2150cc stroker kit) are available. Our money would be on a supercharger for over 300bhp, giving low-down grunt the normal Type-R lacks.