THERE is a danger that the new Honda Civic Type S will be overshadowed as it goes on sale at almost the same time as the range-topping Type R hot hatch.
Which is a real shame, because the Type S has much to recommend it. While it lacks the outright performance of the 200bhp Type R due in March, the S has the looks to make it stand out in the company car park.
Two versions will be available when it goes on sale in January – a 140bhp 1.8-litre petrol and an equally powerful 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, both available in standard and GT trim (the latter adding, among other things, a panoramic glass roof).
The Type S debuts the new three-door Civic bodyshell and adds larger 17-inch alloy wheels and extra bodystyling to make it look more sporty.
But this doesn’t mean it’s all show and no go. Both engines have enough performance to make for entertaining driving, yet offer fleet managers realistic running costs and drivers more affordable BIK tax bills.
Because of this, Honda expects strong demand from user-choosers, with around half of Type S sales expected to go to fleets.
The firm reckons it will sell 7,000 Type S models in the UK in 2007, bolstering the strong start the five-door range has made this year. By September Honda had already exceeded its sales target for the full year with Civic and expects to have sold 35,000 five-doors by the end of the year.
With sales of three-door models predicted to reach 12,000 units in 2007 (including the Type R), this should see the Civic range reach 40,000 registrations next year – five-door sales won’t continue at their current level because this year saw high demand as the car was new to the market.
As the second-from-top model in the range, the Type S will also fit neatly into Honda’s marketing as experience with the five-door shows that 40% of sales are high-spec models, with the average car costing more than £17,000.
The Type S will also contribute to Honda’s stated aim of lowering the average age of Civic buyers.
The five-door model has already lowered the profile by 10 years – the average age of drivers is now 51 for diesel models, and the Type S should bring that down further as it is aimed at people aged between 25-35 years old.
Obviously the Type R will find favour with keen drivers, but for those who want the looks without the big bills, the Type S fills a handy niche.
Behind the wheel
WHILE the interior of the Type S will be familiar to five-door Civic drivers, the driving experience won’t be.
As well as the cosmetic changes, Honda has re-engineered the Type S to give it a more sporty feel.
The chassis features firmer spring and damper settings, while the rear track has been widened by 20mm for more surefooted handling.
On the road the Type S feels more planted than its tamer cousins, turning into corners more sharply and offering a firmer ride.
The revised gearbox with a shorter throw action is precise and light, and encourages fast changes to keep the engine in the power band – essential if you’re driving the petrol model which suffers from a lack of mid-range torque.
Not so the diesel, which is the pick of the two thanks to power which is accessible throughout the rev range allied to strong fuel economy.
|Model:||1.8 i-VTEC||2.2 i-CTDi|
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||140/6,300||140/4,000|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||128/4,300||251/2,000|
|Max speed (mph):||127||127|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||42.8||54.3|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||156||138|
|On sale: January||Prices (OTR):||£15,250–£19,800|
WITH more aggressive styling add-ons allied to the new three-door bodystyle, the Type S brings far more road presence to the Civic range. Both engines will appeal to user-choosers thanks to their performance and emissions, but the diesel is the one to go for as it offers a better drive.
|Honda Civic Type S|