I don’t read. When I look back at my days in elementary, I am challenged to really think of a time when I opened a book.
I have never finished reading any kind of novel. When I get started, I start to lose the will to live. It’s quite odd actually, because I’m a writer myself. When I do write, I don’t have a particular audience that I envision myself speaking to. Often times, the audience is me. I am a battered victim of click-bait. I am the annoying person in the WhatsApp group that sends a link I never opened. So when the comments start coming in, I’ve no clue what they’re on about. I’m all on the surface, similar to my knowledge on cars. When I say cars, I mean the ones that I’m interested in: Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Porsche, and BMW.
When someone starts yapping about the turbo in a Mitsubishi Evo 4 and how it’s a better system than what’s found on the Evo 9, I don’t even bother pretending to know what they’re talking about. I just nod, which means I am in the wrong field. People often ask why Opus Macchina’s car ratings are higher than most, and the real answer to that is, we don’t review anything we aren’t remotely interested in. This is why it’s a failed business model and more of an excuse to drive the cars that we like. I enjoy sharing stories and once in a while, I like slipping into the unknown - and one of those things is called a Honda Civic Type R.
I am told that the Type R is a bit of a cult car. There are supposedly many people in this side of the archipelago that worship a crimson red Honda badge. I, on the other hand, cannot relate - at all. I was told that almost anyone who has a Honda Civic that isn’t bone stock is trying to emulate what the Type R is. It is the same story with some Subaru Imprezas trying to be an STI and a handful of Lancers trying to pass themselves an Evo. I can't relate because those cars ain't my cup of tea. Besides, the Type R was never locally available.
Therefore, there was no reference point. I am assuming that the racy Honda should be a bit of a rockstar to drive since there are countless Hondas that try to disguise themselves as such. This kind of car has never really appealed to me. I never really hung out in gas stations seated at the trunk of my car with boom-boom speakers and a set of neon lights underneath. Paul Walker and Vin Diesel were never my heroes. The guy I loved in the first movie was the jackass who got smoked in his 355 Spider. THAT is my kind of guy.
On your knees.
It’s fair to say that when Lyka offered me a drive in the Type R, I was at the very least curious. I had zero expectations, which made the preparation for the experience rather fair. I started from nothing. When I finally saw the car in the flesh, I didn’t know what to think of it. I thought that the plastic trim disguising itself as carbon fibre and the fake rear 'mesh' grille were all too reminiscent of the kind of cars I love to hate. The bodykit is immense. You will never mistake it for anything else, because it’s as out there as a black man walking around the city with his penis hanging out. "You're road", she said.
You will not miss it even if you so badly want to. It looks as horny as a pubescent pimple-faced teenager who just discovered the joy of what lays underneath his pants. It gets worse at the back. The standard Civic in hatchback form is a more beautiful design than the sedan version, but sweet Jesus, the rear of this one was designed by a five year old. It’s got a huge wing, some crab claw tail lights, and a triple exhaust - because two pipes from a 2-liter engine just isn’t enough. Thankfully, it’s sitting on some pretty attractive 20-inch wheels on extremely low profile tires. Delicious.
When you open the door, more red accents assault your eyesight like a bad ecstasy tablet. It seems like Honda don’t want you to forget that you’re not driving a run-of-the-mill Civic, so it’s thrown in more red goodies in there for you. Red trim, red steering wheel accents, and red seats. The moment I sat inside, I was immediately impressed with the seat. I’m not a fan of how it looks, because it reminds me of those dropped Civic SIRs that are perennially parked in your neighbourhood car wash guarded by an obnoxious vaper. Nonetheless, it’s an excellent seat. You can set it pretty low, but I would prefer a couple more notches down.
The seating position is almost perfect. The infotainment system is on a double dose of valium, but thankfully it has Apple CarPlay, which is always good detox. The most noticeable difference from any new Civic available today is the presence of a third pedal and a little something they call a gear lever. I clutched in and pushed the button to fire up the engine. When it did, I was a little underwhelmed with the exhaust note. It sounded like a Dyson vacuum with a subwoofer dialled up to 5. It's a beefier tune than what you find in a basic Civic, but basic is one thing that it isn't. It sounded nothing like the performance it promises on paper.
I pressed on the clutch and shifted into first gear. I stopped and put it back in neutral. I did it again, and five seconds after, I immediately knew that I was in something rather special. The shift action of the Type R’s gearbox is just the most delicious and precise thing I’ve experienced, and I haven’t moved a meter yet. When I did, I found an open road, and gave it a little more. Within those two minutes, I fell madly in love with the car. You have to step on the gas pedal to really create some sound from the exhaust. When you smash through 7,000 rpm, it makes a “ta-ta-ta-ta-tat!” noise from the hard rev limiter. Oh, it is awesome.
The Type R pulls hard, but strangely, it doesn’t have the same 0-100 sprint time as an equally powerful STI. It's almost a full second slower. It hits 100 clicks in a decent 5.7 seconds, but it does edge out the rest with a top speed of 270 km/h. This JDM car is very popular in the UK. It actually isn’t directly aimed towards cars like the WRX STI, but rather something more towards the Golf R. It is, after all, a hot hatch. If I’m not mistaken, the Type R is a bit of a JDM legend that’s offered in the UK. That’s why when you don’t step on the brake upon deactivating the electric handbrake, a lady with a British voice tells you how to do it properly.
The Cult King.
I’ve also heard that this car holds the lap record at the Nordschleife-Nürburgring for front wheel drive cars. To put this in perspective, it laps the ‘Green Hell’ three seconds off a Porsche Cayman GT4, and get this - one second behind the previous generation 911 GT3 RS (997). We are talking about a damn Honda Civic here. After playing around with the car’s multiple driving modes, I had to take the car to Stefano. I needed a professional race car driver’s opinion on it. Just like me, he had zero expectations.
Within a minute, Stefano, who is a performance car snob, couldn’t stop raving about - you guessed it - the shift action of the gearbox. He went as far to say that the only thing better than it is found in a Porsche. Stefano played with more of the different driving modes, in which he settled with +R. What that setting does is it puts more weight on the steering, stiffens up the suspension, and makes the drivetrain a lot more sensitive to throttle inputs. Basically, it’s a Type R after railing a line of Peruvian goodness. It is phenomenal.
"Wherever I went, heads rose and necks snapped like Jessica Michibata just crossed the street completely naked."
In the hands of a proper race car driver, my eyes begged to believe what was unfolding in front of me. The car cornered at speeds you would have to see to believe. The composure of the car and high levels of adhesion from the sticky tires are downright silly. Within an hour of riding with Stefano, he understood immediately why it holds the lap record for front wheel drive cars in the most challenging circuit that there’s ever been. He claimed that it didn’t need his driving skill to get around the corner at speed, because the chassis didn’t even break a sweat. The moment you feel a hint of understeer, the car bites harder into the apex. You just need big balls to hold the line and believe in the car’s capabilities.
There's so much grip through the corners, it begs for more power. Insane! Is there anything I don’t like? Well, I would really want to have an option to have its raciest mode but be able to override the suspension settings. Even more than that is the steering. In Sport mode, the steering is already borderline heavy. It makes the car feel cumbersome, when it really isn’t. Comfort mode offers the best weight, unlike +R mode, which feels artificially heavy and quite vague. In that setting, the car doesn’t feel nimble. I would love to see some sovereignty with the some of the driving options, or perhaps an individual setting where we can configure the settings that suit our preferences.
The other side of Honda.
I fell so madly in love with the Type R, I actually spent 5 grand on fuel alone and put almost a thousand kilometres on the odometer. I am so sorry, Honda. The hallmark of a fantastic driver’s car is how much you want to keep driving. I am never awake in the morning, but in the days I had the Type R with me, I was out having breakfast and entertaining strangers that were in awe of the car. I would take this any day over a much faster Nissan GT-R if both were offered to me to keep and if it came for free. Within the second day, I was already in love with the way it looked.
Whether or not I had love goggles on is irrelevant to the fact that it has a lot of presence. The car is a showstopper. Wherever I went, heads rose and necks snapped like Jessica Michibata just crossed the street completely naked. I really want to stab myself for falling in love with it. The saying that "you cannot really choose who you fall in love with" has never been more true. I wouldn’t at all mind having one in my garage parked next to a Ferrari and an Aston Martin. It's completely unique and it doesn't care whose company it keeps. It's just happy to be there, and I love that.
If you never try, you'll never know.
Some people say that you can’t be taken seriously coming out of a car like this, to which I say, who in the world buys this kind of car and begs to be taken seriously? It's a genuine toy that has the ability to carry passengers inside and maybe do a little bit of the groceries. This speaks so much to the child within me. It is well-built, spacious, and comfortable. The Type R is docile in all mundane situations, but at the push of a button, you can attack corners in ways that you should never be able to.
This is the real Cult King, and I am a traitor, a newly converted humble servant. The driving qualities that it possesses are, with a hand in my heart, everything that I love about driving. It puts the driver at the center of the whole experience, and a lot of performance cars that cost thrice the price haven't got a clue how to do it. Maybe I’ll start reading again, for I have just learned that ignorance isn’t always bliss. I almost missed out, but I'm glad that I now understand the fuss about the crimson badged Honda.
The hype is real.