Half Price Hot Hatch: Honda Civic Type R (FN2)

Launched in 2007, the FN2 Honda Civic Type R shunned the increasingly popular practice of turbocharging seen in many of its rivals in favour of an updated version of its predecessor’s 2.0-litre, naturally aspirated engine.

So that’s 198bhp and 142lb ft of torque in a car that despite weighing 60kg more than the EP3 generation of Civic Type R could still get from 0-62mph in an identical 6.7 seconds. It looks the part too, with the triangular-themed design of the eighth-generation Civic lending itself nicely to a more aggressive stance courtesy of lowered sports suspension, 18-inch alloys and a body kit featuring a rear wing that cuts right across your field of vision.

The interior design is more polarising, with a futuristic dashboard and layered dial design that is perhaps not as easy to operate as Honda had intended – apart from anything else, some owners find the top of steering wheel blocks their view of the speedometer. Still, you certainly couldn’t call it plain.

The FN2 is also been great value, having fallen into Half Price Hot Hatch territory some time ago. Prices these days range from around £3,000 for an early, high mileage example to about £11,000 for a newer car.

THE DRIVE
As with all of the Type Rs of its era and before, the FN2 is all about revs. In fact, until you’ve taken the four-cylinder engine into the VTEC zone and witnessed the way the engine spins up to and even just beyond 8,000rpm you’ll probably be wondering what all the fuss is about.

That’s because this is not one of those hot hatches that fizzes with feel the moment you get in (although the deeply bolstered Recaro seats do a fine job of setting the scene), and at normal speeds it can even feel a bit plain, the steering lacking any sense of connection and the ride being distinctly jiggly.

One thing you can appreciate immediately is the gear shift, for the metal-topped lever is great to hold and moves through its six ratios with sublime precision. That’s a good thing too, because to get the most out of the Honda’s engine you will indeed need to stir those gears, keeping it on song above 5,400rpm. It is here that the Civic Type R magic happens, the engine taking on a deeper, more aggressive roar, and the lightning quick throttle response making it feel almost like a road-going touring car, with enough pace to be truly entertaining.

Admittedly the handling isn’t as delicate as some of Honda’s other great Type Rs, but the steering is very pointy once you pick up some speed, and there’s plenty of grip. And so while it is ultimately lacking in feedback, this particular Civic should still make you grin.

CHECK POINTS
The Type R was hugely popular in the UK so there are plenty of used examples to choose from – and due to the car’s nature often attracting owners who drive them hard, you should be picky. Paying for a full vehicle history check or used car inspection will help to give you peace of mind that it doesn’t have a hidden past, but it’s also worth looking at a car’s online MOT record prior to going to see it, using past results to verify the mileage and as a rough guide to how well it’s been cared for.

In terms of items to look out for make sure it stays in gear, particularly third. If not it can be an expensive fix. Check the clutch feels strong too (and doesn’t squeak), and note that engine oil consumption can be high on some cars, so check the dipstick shows the correct level.

Rattles from around the car need not signal an expensive problem, but they can be tricky to trace. Look closely at the seals around the windscreen and doors too as rust can begin to develop here.

Special editions to look out for include the Championship White (pictured above), which was launched in 2008 and included a limited-slip differential to improve traction (this become standard on Type Rs from 2009 onwards), and the Mugen 200 of 2010. This latter model had the same specification as the Championship White, but a more aggressive body kit designed to emulate a highly-tuned Mugen model of 2009, only a handful of which came to the UK.

FAST FACTS
Honda Civic Type R (FN2)
Built: 2007-2011
Power: 198bhp @ 7,800rpm
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds
Top speed: 146mph
See examples of the Honda Civic Type R (FN2) for sale at CarGurus

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