Please don’t send an ill wind my way – or even a blustery gust or two.
They might catch the laughably giant rear wing on my Honda Civic Type R, sending the wildly exaggerated car and me sailing into some tree-top in the next county.
OK, that might be a slight stretch, but when I accelerated onto a freeway in the 2020 Type R Touring, some people probably assumed I was taxiing for takeoff.
“Lookit that, Edith, it’s one of them flying cars.”
They were partly right. Despite its juvenile excesses, the Type R I had last week might be the ultimate hot-hatch, a compact sedan with muscle-car acceleration, sports-car handling and an astounding 169 mph top speed.
It inhales open concrete.
Believe me: When the R’s stout 306-horsepower turbo-four grumbles angrily to life, you quickly forget the boy-racer appendage befouling the hatch. Most of the time.
Low and a bit loud, my white Type R certainly started the day with good intentions. Like all new Civics, the R offered a good-natured smirk with its tidy, slightly curved black grille and intense headlamps.
As you know, Civics in general are overly styled and the R compounds it with a small scoop fitted to its chiseled hood, long fake heat vents in the front fenders and 20-inch “dub” black wheels.
But here’s the upside: the four-passenger, one-time economy sedan gets various aerodynamic carbon-fiber body pieces outlined in red that match the car’s giant red Brembo brake calipers.
They mean business. The bird-bashing wing aside, this is a serious sedan.
Its 20-inch, multi-spoke wheels – which really are good-looking – roll on sticky 245-30 tires and the once-timid sedan barks through three center-mounted exhaust-pipes (a center resonator and two “overflow” pipes for those high-rpm blasts).
Its peaky 2-liter four-cylinder engine feels kind of unremarkable below 4,000 rpm, propelling the 3,100-pound R with little more than smooth adequacy.
But keep both hands on the steering wheel and push past 5,000 rpm.
The car’s surge between 5,000 and 7,000 is darn near explosive, spinning the front tires in first and second gears as its turbo awakens.
Zero to 60 mph arrives in 5 seconds, according to Car and Driver, and does it without turbo lag.
Moreover, the front-wheel-drive Civic consumes corners and curves with ferocious grace, diving into them without body lean, understeer or torque-steer and holding a tight, clean line.
Even the really quick and relatively heavy steering provided some useful road-feel.
Of course, like most lively, agreeable partners, the R can be a bit of a pain to live with. (My ex liked to carry a gun.)
The car’s overall fuel economy, for instance, is 25 miles per gallon and it rides firmly, bouncing occasionally to remind you of its stiff struts and multilink rear suspension.
It mostly makes amends, though, with a positive, smooth-shifting six-speed manual that’s a pleasure to stir.
And the $38,000 R will make you smile even before you hit the starter button.
My steroidal sedan flashed a brash red-and-black interior, inviting me in with a black-plastic dashboard that curved gently down onto a protruding mid-dash trimmed in faux carbon-fiber.
Dominating that mid-section – sort of – was a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
Pay some attention to it before you leave the house. Audacious Honda gives us an audio system in the R that must be tuned through the touchscreen – between gear-changes, wrestling with the heavy steering and keeping the hyper-Honda between the lines.
Actually, the quirky R is only half red-and-black inside. The back seat, which has reasonable leg- and head-room, is in a high-end black cloth while the front sport-seats were a red suede of sorts with snug-fitting bolsters and black trim.
Likewise, the steering wheel, wrapped in Alcantara, was black on top and red on the bottom.
The dashboard and black-plastic door-panels, meanwhile, got the same thin red striping as the R’s various carbon-fiber exterior pieces.
As a modern Honda, the R had the usual safety nannies stuffed into its interior, including active cruise-control, collision-mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist and road-departure mitigation.
My highly capable sedan arrived with zero options, and didn’t seem to need any.
Look, I’m too old to be attracted to the outlandish R, which is clearly aimed at young buyers. But as an aging eccentric with several fading tie-dyed T-shirts, I really liked the goofy non-conformist sedan.
I mean, you have to respect a car with stunning performance that also shows up on airport radar systems.
2020 Honda Civic Type R Touring Review
- What I liked most: Everything under the hood and beneath the body.
- What I would change: Just about everything else, starting with that outlandish wing.
- MSRP: Base price, $36,995; as equipped, $37,950.
- Official color: Championship White.
- Fuel economy: 22 miles per gallon in the city, 28 on the highway and 25 mpg combined with filler on the left.
- Odometer reading when tested: 3,736 miles.
- Spare tire: None – air-pump instead.
- Weight: Approximately 3,100 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 179.4 inches long/73.9 inches tall/56.5 inches tall.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 12.4 gallons.
- Towing capacity: Not applicable.
- 2020 Honda Civic Type R in a few words: An extremely extrovert compact sedan that redeems itself with benchmark performance and handling.
- Warranty: Three-year, 36,000-mile overall warranty and five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain protection.
- Final assembly location: Wilshire, England
- Manufacturer’s website: www.honda.com
- E-mail me at email@example.com
- Up next: 2020 Lexus RX 350L AWD