As a few of you may know, my current car is a Civic Sport, 5Dr, 2.2 CDTi on an 06 plate. This is my car, and I still can't help but raise a smile when I look at her:
Well whilst it is in for a bit of work, I have the pleasure of the following:
Now when I originally looked at the cars available within budget, I was mightily torn. Honda was one, no two of the options. The first was the 5Dr, in the 2.2, whilst the second was the TypeS in the 1.8 – budget didn’t stretch to the 2.2 in the TypeS unfortunately. I drove them both, and decided I liked the diesel so much I wanted it regardless of the body it was encompassed within – so I chose a rather nice, average mileage 06 plate Vivid Blue Sport. Looks good – nice paint, HIDs, front fogs, optional rear spoiler – and most importantly goes well.
I’ve had that coming up for 7 months now, so I feel I’ve got a reasonably wide range of situations from which to draw my conclusions, and offer a bit of an insight into the differences between the two models. Well, I’ll start with what is the same….engine…check….badge….check….err….about it between the 2.2 Sport and the 2.2 TypeS. Previously having written them off as simply the 3dr version of the 5dr, it came a bit of a shock when I got in this one. (Yes, I did drive it – but when was the last time you focused on the details on a test drive – I try to get a sense of the car without crashing it usually!).
The first thing I noticed was how different externally it looks. Whilst it shares wing mirrors, lights, paint colours etc, it looks a completely different beast. The 5dr whilst doing a passable enough impression of the 3dr to confuse my mates post pub (trust me, they couldn’t find the rear doors!) it is still a longer car, and looks slightly less aggressive as a result. Don’t get me wrong, Honda have done a fantastic job with the five door, but they got it spot on with the TypeS/R.
Getting inside, the first thing I notice is how long the doors are. Look lovely, but I can’t help but feel they might be a bit of a pain in tight car park spaces, oh, and of course, with me being as short as a two foot pole, I have to reach behind me for the seatbelt. Oh, and I’m reminded I’m a shortarse because of how close to the front I feel in comparison to the 5dr. The interior – dash wise – is identical. It works, I’ve been lucky to avoid most of the creaks, and it looks different to your average rep mobile – all good things in my book, and that glass roof is genius. Odd at first, having a cabin so flooded with light, but what a difference it makes – the Civic feels bigger inside, more spacious and less compact. However where the TypeS comes into its own is the seats. Soooo much better than even the Sport: supportive where you need it but comfortable too for longer journeys. Haven’t sat in the back – something I equally haven’t done in the Sport, so no idea on that part, heh.
So the drive?
I expected it to be same as the 5dr, competent, but ultimately underwhelming through the corners. I like it, safe handling, put a smile on my face, but lacked the manic grin I had when I drove the Alfa Mito recently, when I used to ride the bike for pleasure (i.e. when it wasn’t raining
). Well, I actually started smiling driving the TypeS down the Norfolk backroads. It was soo much more eager to go through the bends, it was more composed over the bumpy stuff, and I found bends flowing together again. I actually enjoyed a road I’ve driven numerous times in all weathers, simply with a change of chassis. It was enthralling, enchanting, enjoyable, and I didn’t want to stop.
The CTS GT I've got, on one of Norfolk's fine backroads:
So did I make the right choice?
Well here is the issue. I feel the Civic TypeS is made by the 2.2. It isn’t some TypeR wannabe, down on power and down on sound, it is a 50mpg cruiser one moment, and a fun, entertaining, exciting (ish – never going to be up there with a TVR, Porsche or M division BMW) car the next. It has a good looking exterior, with a decent, well thought out interior. Ok, the stereo sucks like every other standard Civic item, but I’m sure that could be fixed with a little time and effort. Oh, and if extra performance is your aim – a remap makes that pretty simple
But would it be the right car for me? No. As I said above, the 2.2 makes the car for me personally, and at the time I decided I wanted a car, it wasn’t an available option financially. Would I, with hindsight, have waited a couple of months and gone for a TypeS? Maybe, but if I’d done so, I’d probably still be looking. Do I regret owning the Sport I’ve got now? It may sound mad, but no. In my heart of hearts, I know the TypeS is the more composed car, but for me, the Sport is the one to have. The old saying is that you’ll never notice something is missing until you don’t have it and need it, well I can see that with the TypeS. Various past events, weekends away and upcoming holidays were/are going to be made infinitely easier with the rear doors, and don’t get me started on the magic seats – whoever came up with that remarkably simple idea needs a payrise tbh. Is it any less comfortable on long runs? Not as far as I can discern, though I still think the Civic suspension is the poor side of crude, and the standard tolerances for wheel alignment woeful, but there are ways and means of dealing with that. If you want the ultimate driving machine, spend £10k more and get a 320d. Or better yet, put the 10k in the bank and get something with a petrol growl – e46 330i, what a car.
The TypeS is a fantastic car, but so is the Sport. Cheaper spec for spec, more practical, but ultimately, the better compromise for me personally.
So there, I said it. I like the Sport more than the Type S. Whoda thunk it?