What is it?
Do you have a problem with the way the Civic Type R looks?
The big casualty is the high-level rear wing – that see-it-a-mile-away identifier of Type R-ness. It has been replaced by something subtler, even if, should you inspect the undersides at its extremities, the new part still features vortex-generating fins.
The wheels are downsized, too, from 20in on the Type R GT to 19in, although space remains for the full-fat car’s 350mm MMC brake discs. Those wheels wear what’s now the third different tyre Honda has fitted to its Ford Focus ST rival, after using Continental Sport Contact 6 rubber on the original and semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s for the hardcore Limited Edition launched last year. It’s Michelin’s Pilot Sport 4 S rubber that has been called up for duty this time – in our experience, just about the best road-focused tyre around, with soft sidewalls yet also plenty of precision and support.
Finally, the red exterior pinstriping of the regular Type R has disappeared, as has the red cloth of the otherwise unchanged bucket seats, and some of the ordinary Civic’s soundproofing, removed from the regular Type R to save weight, has been put back in.
That said, the Sport Line’s kerb weight is the same as before, at 1380kg – a class-leading figure.
What’s it like?
And the results? Well, visually, you can judge for yourself. Even the regular Civic is quite a punchy, aggressive-looking thing, and the Type R raises the temperature considerably, so even with its docked tail, the bulldog-ish Sport Line was never going to blend in like the Volkswagen Golf GTI does. You still have the triple-tipped exhaust, bulging wheel arches, unmissable bonnet scoop and chicken-wire galore across the front of the car.
However, what really makes the Sport Line worth considering is the combination of 19in wheels and the NVH improvements, because having spent plenty of time in the regular Civic Type R in the past few years, I can’t remember one ever being this pliant or quiet or generally well mannered in day-to-day use.
Throw in the rev-matching function for the short-throw gearshift and you have something genuinely easy to bumble around in but that still, when you want it, exhibits the same seat-of-your-pants sense of occasion and integrity in the driving controls as the proper Type R.