Oh yes they most certainly did. Cue the thunder storms, strain your eyes on the vultures circling above and cup your hands to your ears for the angels crying in the heavens. So Honda finally threw a turbocharger on their Type-R but we think you should trust them to get it right.
You remember that time you discovered some sub-genre of porn that you wanted to hate but somehow got the blood flowing rapidly to stir your loins yet you wouldn’t admit it to anyone? Well, it was a feeling of déjà vu for most Honda fanboys when they discovered that the Big ‘H’ would be slapping a turbo on their latest Civic Type-R.
But then again, logically speaking, the hot hatch game has risen to such heights that the power levels to keep up simply cannot be achieved without forced induction. If you doubt that, just take a look at any of the hot hatches on the market now and list down the ones that are naturally-aspirated.
Honda’s reputation for screaming engines that reached for the stratosphere will forever be etched in the automotive annals but the times, they are a changing, and Honda had to evolve or dwindle away as the rest boosted their way ahead.
Once the Honda Civic Type-R FK2R was out though, it obliterated anything in its path. A Nurburgring lap record for front-drive cars unsurprisingly followed and the figures were equally salivating.
306bhp of raw, turbocharged i-VTEC fury in a stiffened shell with a slick six-speed manual and a proper mechanical LSD to get the drive down. That sales pitch would usually include a sky-high redline but this time around, it falls a bit short.
You’ll hit the limit at 7,000rpm courtesy of the snail attached to it but it isn’t short of the song and dance that Type-Rs are synonymous with. The full opera is present, hitting the right notes with the dramatics that accompany Honda’s performance badge.
So where does the 300 ponies come from? An all-new 2.0-litre inline-four with direct-injection and a turbocharger of course with i-VTEC a given. Outputs are 306bhp together with a 400Nm wallop of torque in the mid-range. The FK2R featured here though is pretty much bone stock with the exception of a custom aluminium exhaust system to really amplify the engine note and pierce those eardrums.
One thing that had the motoring world scratching their collective heads though was Honda’s decision to opt for something of a dying breed among turbocharging, a monoscroll unit. In a day of twinscrolling and variable vane geometry to reduce lag, the final choice is questionable. Of course, it utilises the i-VTEC control valve to keep things in check.
However, if you were expecting Honda’s engineering nous to have eradicated all lag, you’re in for a disappointment. At low engine speeds there’s quite a bit of it and it’s not until past 3,000rpm that it really hits its stride. It’s better at picking up quickly at high revs, and once away and blowing hard the Civic is massively fast. Massively.
It weighs a claimed 1378kg, which gives it a power to weight ratio of 222bhp per tonne, ten per cent better than a Golf R. It consumes those tightly stacked lower gears, every gearchange in the new six speed manual a total delight. So precise, so tight, so slick.
If everybody had a manual gearbox like this there’d be no call for double clutch gearboxes.
Considering the tyres are 235/35 ZR19s (Conti CSC6s, rubber fans), that’s a good effort. It never feels less than purposefully sporty, though. In fact the whole car is shot through with a motorsport vibe that starts with the cabin.
Famed for its riding-on-rails handling, the FK2R starts out from the base Civic shell but with rigidity increased by 18 per cent. How they achieve it though is why you shouldn’t have doubted Honda from the very beginning.
Instead of adding steel or more brackets, they simply altered the bracket designs and applied more adhesive in a smarter method.
Putting down over 300 ponies to the front wheels without the steering attempting to yank your arms out or veering for the guardrails on full throttle has always been a battle for any manufacturer. All the high-powered hot hatches had a dash of marketing thrown into their trick front suspension systems to reduce the dreaded torque steer.
Essentially, minimising the camber changes up front during cornering would cut down on the torque steer and Honda has their own version of it, dubbed the Dual Axis Strut Front Suspension; or DASFS for short. Hardly rolls off the tip of your tongue but it definitely rolls the car forward with blistering pace.
Honda claims a 55 per cent reduction in torque steer, aided by redesigned lower arms, dampers and bushings. In the rear though, a torsion beam setup is retained with no anti-roll bar. That’s right, can you guess what’s the first mod owners will probably go for. With a setup that’s 177 per cent stiffer than stock, Honda says “What rear anti-roll bar?” and we’ll buy it; the car and the claim.
So what’s the interior like? Pretty much as ricer as you can imagine but somehow it works; probably complemented by the aggressive exterior. The materials are exquisite and the shifter is positioned slightly raised to be closer to the driver, complete with the spherical aluminium shift knob.
Gear changes are slick and solid with little free play. Honda really nailed the shifter linkage.
What stands out though are the seats. Pretty much looking like full on buckets but reclinable, the bolstering is racecar stuff with plenty of support whichever direction the FK2R tosses you in.
If you are going to give the FK2R the full beans, we ask that you first hit that R+ button to the right of the instrument binnacle. What does it do? It transforms the car into a raging hot hatch.
Aesthetically, the instrument rings glow red instead of white but performance wise, the stability control loosens up a bit and the fly-by-wire throttle increases its sensitivity. The engine’s mapping switches over to a more aggressive setup and the electric power steering cuts some of the assistance for more feedback.
And the magnetorheological dampers firm up by 30 per cent too.
Magnetorheo-what you ask? It’s basically adaptive dampers that use magnetic force to alter the viscosity of the oil in the dampers that contain metal bits in them. You’ll probably find them on more exotic machinery such as the Audi R8 and Ferrari 458.
Speaking of exotic, the FK2R will certainly have its fair share of haters for its looks. A visual assault on your eyes would be one way of looking at it. Muscular and bulging arches flanked by creases and vents with 19-inch wheels wrapped in low-profile rubber, the car is hard to miss. That rear wing is huge and Honda claim every vent, duct and splitter is fully functional to keep the car planted on its way to a top speed of 270km/h.
For some added effect, the owner of this; probably the only or one of the first units on the road, added some racing stripes into the mix. In fact, if we told you it came from the factory with those twin stripes on the hood, we bet you wouldn’t question in.
We’re pretty sure the owner of this car is enjoying it to that 7,000rpm redline every opportunity he gets but this is a modified car magazine after all and all great things must come to an end; just like the car’s factory setup. To put the performance of the Civic in perspective, the owner’s previous ride was a Nissan GT-R R35 and while it might not be as fast, the FK2R is certainly as entertaining.