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|Home » Honda Civic News » Deportee drive - 2002 Type R Honda Civic|
What's mostly white, red, and eats WRXs and old generation Evos for breakfast?
Test-driving late model cars is sometimes a rewarding business. Most of the time, though, it is boring. Driving machinery that is made for Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public is usually a recipe for exercising the yawn reflex. And I'm happy to do it; it's just the Mario Andretti in me needs to come out sometimes. Uncloseted.
A wrecking ball called the 2002 Civic Type R has cracked a smile on my stony, jaded, editorial face.
For the number crunchers out there, let's get the specs out of the way. The K20A motor is a square-engined derivative of the famed F20 - this puppy delivers 211 horsepower at 8000 rpm; 150 ft/lbs of twist at 7,000 rpm; really close ratio six speed gear box; all up weight around 2660 lbs and has an 11.5:1 compression ratio. But this engine is way, way more than just numbers. It defines tractability, gets 40 mpg and redlines at 8,000 rpm. Because of the IVTEC system which changes both the duration and the lift of the camshafts, the power delivery is extremely linear. This bad boy will accelerate from a crawl to blinding speeds in top gear without snatching or fuss.
The Civic R's rev range is audibly divided into three sections. From idle to about five grand, the car is completely docile. Your ol' lady should drive in this range; it is accompanied by a throaty, muscular engine note that is all exhaust pan. From there the cams shift, bringing more duration to the playground. A portend of things to come, this engine comes on the cam like no other. At 5,000 rpm, the engine now starts to contribute to, and combine with, the mellifluous engine note out back to produce an urgent, brutal, sound. And it ain't over yet. At seven grand, the lift component of I-VTEC is triggered, and the Jekyll to Hyde transformation is completed, generating an aural storm. Harmonics fly everywhere, and the sound emanated can be compared to a really big bore superbike. It's a spine tingling, goose bump-raising yowl that is unmistakable for anything else but a Type R engine. Define power? An K20A motor at 7,000 rpm.
But to make a good car great, it can't be all about the engine. Type R brakes are immensely powerful; probably the best I've felt on a stock car. Seventeen-inch rims with 45 series BFGoodrich 225 tyres complement the brakes and the tuned McPherson strut suspension. She corners on rails, and stops on a dime. Ride quality is a bit on the firm side, but that is to be expected from a car that gives the driver so much in terms of feedback and control. The gearbox is a thing of beauty. There are three synchromesh cones on first and second; all other gears have two, which guarantees a smooth release and take up; this gearbox probably defined 'snick'. The red on black interior adds to the ambience; Recaro seats and red on black on white gauges tell the driver that this ain't your mother's Civic ...
So what's it like to drive? OHMYGOD. Folks with weak hearts and heavy right feet need not apply. First gear (3.2 :1!) alone will give you a coronary. It is almost redundant. More wheel spin than anything else, it is the sound of it that will bring on your thrombosis. Most sane people will chicken out long before the 8,000 rpm redline ... Snick .... Second. Cheezas. The front tyres find traction, there's this bite, and suddenly you're ahead. WAY ahead. This car puts you in the foreground faster than a telephoto lens. Third and fourth are pretty much the same as second, only there's more time to appreciate the kick in the pants you get when the tach swings past five grand. Fifth and sixth CANNOT be experienced at speed in town, unless you are Fernando Alonso. Now here's the thing. There is NO body roll. The 'R' moves in and out of traffic like the proverbial knife through butter; like a shifter gate. And along with all that power, the brakes are a perfect complement. Single piston, sliding caliper arrangement, yet when you need to slough off speed, the response from them is beyond belief. If the power is there to get the car in trouble, then the brakes are there to bail it out. Truly amazing.
Here is a car that is truly more than the sum of its parts; the components gel together to give John Q. Driver a driving experience that is truly surreal. Power Gods, I have seen thy face. And thy name is HONDA.