All-Natural Goodness - Honda Civic Type R (FD2R) Review
I have never driven a Type R before. And I wasn’t exactly excited about reviewing the FD2R... until I was in the driver’s seat. I just had to get home and start writing before the memories faded. Now to most of us, cars are just a mode of transportation. But I couldn’t say the same thing about the Type R. Yes, it is a 5-seater sedan. But there is an extra layer of satisfaction that you get when you purchase a car like this. And that extra layer of satisfaction usually comes with a higher price tag. A used FD2R would cost around RM100,000 in 2018. It is not cheap. Even an S15 doesn’t cost that much.
The FD2R is a front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder sedan with seats for 5 people. It sounds sensible when you describe it like that. On the inside, it really is roomy and doesn’t scream sports car that much (other than the Type R and red ‘H’ badges). At around RM100,000, you could get yourself a small crossover. But we’re not here to talk about modern crossovers. We are here to talk about a sports sedan with a big spoiler from the factory - A breed that is dying if it isn’t already dead yet. (Lancer Evo, WRX STI, 190 Evo II)
Before we go on, we’ll have to thank BE Otomobil for letting us borrow the FD2R. BE Automobil is located in Klang and can sort out some good deals for you.
What is this?
So, what is it exactly that we are looking at here? This is a third generation Honda Civic Type R. Based on the 8th generation Honda Civic. This is the post-2008 facelift model. Facelifted FD2Rs have an octagon taillight inset instead of the previous circular ones.
Let’s get a little overview first:
Engine: 2.0 L K20A I4 i-VTEC (Naturally Aspirated)
Maximum Power Output: 221hp @8,000rpm
Maximum Torque Output: 215N.m @6100rpm
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Drivetrain: Front Wheel Drive
Tyres: Continental MaxContact MC5 225/40ZR18
Top Speed: 240km/h
0 – 100km/h: 6.3 seconds
Price (2018): ~RM100,000 (used)
What is the FD2R?
The FD2R is not a supercar with a sub 3-second 0 to 100km/h time. It is not a drift missile. It is not a modern car with a tiptronic automatic gearbox. It is not a budget car either. The FD2R is simply a front-wheel-drive driver’s car.
If you are out there looking for real driving fun, you cannot ditch the manual gearbox. And the FD2R accommodates the manual enthusiast very well with a proper pedal box. The throttle pedal is floor-mounted, making heel-toeing a breeze, even for a rookie driver like myself. It has a close-ratio gearbox too so you can stay in the VTEC (Yo!) zone. Thanks to the big body of the 8th gen Civic, there is ample space between the pedals, and you get a footrest. You also get an armrest in the Type R. It is ergonomic and comfortable. Even the hand brake is very well within your reach and it is more of a backward pull instead of an upward yank. What I find a little weird (since we’re in 2018) is that you have to insert the key and push the start button in the FD2R. Being a car from the early 2000s, it is a forgivable feature. These days you either use the key only or the button only. You don’t go halfway.
There are no fancy treatments to the dashboard and the digital gauge does help keep your eyes on the road. There are no radio and cruise control buttons on the steering wheel. The indicator and wiper stalks are short and stout, providing good clearance for some exciting steering action in the bendy roads. You can rest your elbow on the armrest while shifting. That’s quite nice.
The semi bucket seats by Honda are comfortable and easy to get in and out of. The fabric does not hold up so great after many years of usage. Space in the back is ample for adult passengers and if you install more forgiving shocks, the ride is comfortable for everyone. It is a totally different car from the standard 8th gen Civic. The FD2R is not overdone like the FK8R, but it also doesn’t look as tame and friendly as the EP3 Type R. Personally, I find the FD2R to be a very balanced looking Type R, side by side with the EK9 Type R.
Which Type R do you like best?
What is it like to drive?
I felt that the FD2R was very forgiving to a rookie like myself. The NA response was great and even at 6,500rpm, it wanted to rev even more. It is not too loud on the inside either at those revs. In fact, blasting through tight, curvy, and bumpy roads felt like a breeze in the FD2R. I wasn’t terrified and the car was not struggling. I was being careful not to hurt the 18” Type R wheels since they were running on 225 40s. And that’s just the size of the tyre that the Type R comes with stock. The Continentals we had on during the test would set you at around RM500 a piece, FYI.
The 2.0 litre naturally aspirated K20A can be addictive. I was going at around 6,500 rpm, heel-toeing through corners, and having the time of my life. I wanted to go faster but for safety reasons, I decided against it. There was more that could be delivered, and I could feel it. Well, perhaps another time with safer conditions. The K20A shows you don’t need a turbocharger for driving fun. The NA response is a winner in my books. People are swapping K20s into Jazzes these days and putting K24s in the Type R. I’m happy enough with a naturally aspirated K20 in the FD2R.
The Civic is a big car. It didn’t start out that way. The FD2R was the first sedan Type R. The EK and the EP3 were hot hatches and the seventh generation Civic wasn’t as popular as the EK it was succeeding. The FD2R kind of nailed it with the looks and the size. The size makes it a considerable option for long distance drives. Although quite large, the FD2R only weighs 1,260 kilograms. That’s almost the same weight as the SW20 MR2.
I don’t like the big spoiler. The high school me would have loved it, but it gets in the way of the rear-view mirror. It is part of an aero package, together with the rear diffuser, so removing it might have an effect on how the car behaves. The FD2R pulls away easily on the highway, and isn’t a pain in the ass to drive in town. The clutch is light and with the massive windscreen windows, visibility is not an issue. The only issue is you can’t leave it unattended for so long because someone might try to steal your FD2R.
We were out testing the car with Kazuto from Kazuto Garage. Check out what he has to say about the FD2R.
The FD2R doesn’t scream for attention
That’s because there are so many fake FD2Rs out there, that you just always assume it isn’t the real deal from afar. While we were test driving this one, we saw several FD Civics that were trying to look like Type R. That just shows how desirable an FD2R can be. With its simplistic body kit, the FD2R will not have people taking a second look. The current FK8R will draw more attention since it is a more recent model and the styling is a little more over the top.
FD2R or FK8R?
The FD2R is naturally aspirated. The FK8R is turbocharged.
The FD2R has a mechanical handbrake. The FK8R has an electronic parking brake.
The FD2R is also cheaper for the time being.
To me, that’s good enough reason to choose the FD2R.
The FK8R has more power, has multiple driving modes, and has a fancier tail pipe.
A family saloon that accommodates the aspiring track car driver in you. Grippy and responsive. Very forgiving. Able to rev high effortlessly and still be comfortable on the inside. Some guys take it to the track. Some guys like to enjoy it on the highway. Comes at a near RM100,000 price tag, but worth the money if you want to enjoy some high revving, heel-toeing, highway racing, and grippy driving. It is something that you can buy, keep it stock, and still enjoy the car very well.
I would get one (with more comfortable shocks).