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Reliable cars

The 5 most reliable car brands

Reliable carsAccording to a recent survey, UK buyers think German cars are among the most reliable on the road. However, real repair data from Warrantywise largely contradicts this, with Japanese brands dominating the reliability roundup. Join us as we count down the five most dependable car brands – and reveal the average repair cost for each.

Reliable cars5. Hyundai

Dependability score: 88

Want some Korea’s advice? Buy a Hyundai. You get a five-year manufacturer warranty, good-value prices and a strong dependability score of 88. The Tucson SUV is decent to drive, too.

Reliable cars5. Hyundai

Average repair cost: £577

Like many of its rivals, Hyundai is trying to move upmarket with its own premium sub-brand: Genesis. Would the promise of good reliability make you choose a Genesis over an Audi? Phil Collins has so far refused to comment…

Reliable cars4. Mitsubishi

Dependability score: 89

Mitsubishi sees the future in plug-in hybrids, like its Outlander PHEV. In the present, though, the firm is doing very nicely indeed. Sales are up, and a dependability score of 89 puts it fourth here.

Reliable cars4. Mitsubishi

Average repair cost: £833

Ouch! Yes, that’s the highest average repair cost here – a whopping £833. To put that in perspective, it’s more than double what you’d typically pay to repair a Smart. Good thing Mitsubishis are reliable, really…

Reliable cars3. Suzuki

Dependability score: 92

Suzuki got off to a shaky start with its Celerio city car, which failed a brake test conducted by Autocar magazine. However, the Celerio is now fixed and proving reliable, as a dependability score of 92 shows.

Reliable cars3. Suzuki

Average repair cost: £424

The latest Vitara is good fun to drive – and repair costs are affordable for a 4×4. The average across the Suzuki range is £424.

Reliable cars2. Toyota

Dependability score: 93

Toyota recalls always make the news, but their relative frequency shows how keen the company is to ensure its products are totally reliable. It just loses out to one of its Japanese rivals – but who could that be?

Reliable cars2. Toyota

Average repair cost: £592

Whatever you think about the styling of the new Prius, it’s likely to be very dependable indeed. Toyota has proved that hybrid tech needn’t mean excessive repair and maintenance costs.

Reliable cars1. Honda

Dependability score: 93

So here we are at the top of the table – and it’s Honda that takes first prize. Its dependability score of 93 is actually the same as Toyota, but average repair costs are lower.

Reliable cars1. Honda

Average repair cost: £535

From the practical Jazz to the banzai Civic Type R, Honda has a car to suit most tastes. If you value trouble-free motoring, it’s the number one choice.

Honda HR-V long-term review: the final verdict

2015 Honda HR-V long-term review: the final verdict

Honda HR-V long-term review: the final verdict

The six months I have spent with the HR-V has quickly slipped by. My example was one of the first to hit UK roads and I was deeply interested in whether Honda could pull off this new model in its range.

There’s a definitely place on our roads for crossovers smaller than Honda’s own very successful CR-V. As such cars pump up in size with each successive generation, the current HR-V promises to be at least as effective as the original CR-V from 20 years back.

It now sensibly fills the gap between the ever-popular Honda Jazz and the CR-V, while sitting alongside the similarly-priced Civic. The HR-V makes massive sense on paper, too. It comes with all of the Jazz’s renowned versatility coupled to a high driving position and more space.

That means rear seats that fold like an origami toy, and deeply impressive packaging. To my mind I can’t think of any other manufacturer that manages to sweat so much volume for passengers and luggage from a car of this size.

Honda HR-V long-term review: the final verdict

The HR-V might look like compact off-roader, but the UK car market says that few buyers are interested in the additional costs of four-wheel drive. Thus, you get just the front-wheel-drive HR-V in the UK, and if you want automatic transmission, it has to be with the 1.5-litre petrol engine.

Our HR-V came with the 1.6-diesel coupled to a six speed manual transmission. Some years ago, I owned an Accord 2.4S with the sweetest gearchange you could imagine, and this HR-V comes close. The lever snicks satisfyingly through the gate, always easy and precise.

The engine has 120hp, which may not sound like a great deal, but diesel pulling power results in performance that is always in keeping with the whole ethos of the HR-V. Which means just fine, although not much fun.

The HR-V, for all its stylish looks, is actually a bit dull to drive. Everything works as it should, no complaints there, but this is the motor car as a dependable means of getting around, not one that you are ever likely to think “oh good, time for another drive in the Honda”.

This top-level HR-V EX comes in at £26,055 (a rise of £1,110 over the September 2015 launch price), plus £525 for metallic paint. It’s a fully-specced car, with Garmin navigation, smart entry and engine start, a full length panoramic opening glass roof, heated leather seats and LED headlights.

Honda HR-V long-term review: the final verdict

Arguably this is over-egging what is basically a straightforward crossover, one that makes more sense lower down the scale with the S and SE models that loiter around the £20k mark. The S gets Honda’s City Brake safety system that I didn’t need to utilise, thank goodness, but the Forward Collision Warning on the SE model and above is a really useful light/sound combination that strikes up when you get too close to the car in front.

There were two areas where the Honda HR-V irritated, and neither got better with long-term experience. First, the side windows, as expected, get fogged up on the outside on a cold day. On almost every car I know you simply power down the windows to wipe them clear. Not the HR-V. The design means the glass doesn’t touch the window seals so there is no alternative other than to the clean the whole lot by hand.

Secondly, the high-end media centre is frustratingly user-unfriendly. Multiple-layer menus, touchscreen buttons that often don’t respond and so on… It has all the signs of being designed by a bunch of techie kids, who play with their phones all day but don’t yet drive a car.

But let’s not let these things overshadow what is basically a very sensible family car. For those prepared to forgo the finer reaches of driving pleasure, this Honda HR-V works well on very many levels.

Honda HR-V long-term review: part three

Honda HR-V

I’m back in the HR-V after a three-week break while I was away in Australia. Like every Honda I have driven, indeed owned, it’s dead easy getting back into the groove. Hondas are so easy to drive, still with probably the slickest manual gearchange you’ll find anywhere.

I had a bit of spare time yesterday, so I got out my Samsung phone’s USB charging lead, plugged it into the Honda’s port and waited to connect it into the system. Nothing. Seems like they are incompatible, though I can’t imagine why. Android phones have been around for years now and this is supposed to plug me into a whole new world of Honda apps.

Like so much in the car business when it comes to driver-car interface electronics, there’s a void between what the manufacturer promises and what actually occurs. I am guessing here, but I bet that Honda was as pleased as punch with its button-free navigation/music/phone system in the HR-V. Yet it is so maddeningly complicated to work, requiring you to take your eyes off the road several times in order to hit the right area of the touch screen to do, well, almost anything.

It may seem churlish to touch on Honda’s dismal 2015 F1 experience with McLaren, but I sense there is a parallel here. Honda develops things in a vacuum, rather than calling in outside expertise. A few focus groups and the company would have been painfully aware of the problems with its in-car entertainment system.

Honda HR-V

Economical diesel engine

Enough of that. It was only a bit more than a decade ago that Honda didn’t have a diesel engine to its name, before hitting the ground running with the brilliant 2.2-litre unit in the Accord. This much newer 1.6 turbodiesel is similarly impressive. The performance is entirely in keeping with the car, punchy and relaxed at all times.

But it is the economy that has been astounding me. This morning on my sub-30mph, 12-mile urban drive to the office it averaged 62mpg. And yes, I have checked the trip computer and it’s very accurate. Economy never drops below 53mpg. Compare that with our Kia Sportage, which will struggle to reach 30mpg on the same run (though it does have an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive).

And the HR-V, although it is notionally half-a-class smaller than cars like the Sportage, does exceptionally well for passenger and cargo space. Honda’s ‘Magic’ rear seat is still the cleverest of inventions. The rear cushion lifts up against the backrest so tall things can be stored upright, or the backrest and cushion fold forward in one action to give a big, deep boot floor.

Just before Christmas and still inclemently warm weather. I wait with baited breath to see if, eventually, the HR-V will be caught out when it finally does snow. There’s nfour-wheel-drive option in the UK, you see.

Honda HR-V long-term review: part two

Honda HR-V

It’s the end of January and there’s still no snow in the south-east of England. That will probably please a lot of crossover owners, because, despite the styling, their cars will be no better than a regular family hatchback when it comes to dealing with the white stuff.

The HR-V is not even offered with four-wheel drive in the UK, which is a reflection of where Honda sees the real demand. It’s far more about style and space than off-road prowess, although a decent set of winter tyres will surely still see this compact crossover navigate itself out of most slippery situations.

I left the HR-V at Stansted airport for a few days last week, using my usual meet-and-greet service. It seems to be the same as valet parking, except you have to walk a few yards more to get into the terminal – and it’s more wallet-friendly.

The Honda, of course, disappears off to a distant car park, to be retrieved a few hours before my flight lands. This time I kept a note of the mileage and I reckon it hadn’t travelled further than one side of the drop-off-zone to the other. Yet it’s always worth doing a walk around to check for damage, as once you’ve left the airport, you are on your own.

Honda HR-V

I have this theory that, in winter, diesel fuel is less calorific than in the summer months. The fuel companies add an anti-waxing agent to prevent diesel from thickening up in low temperatures, and in my experience this goes hand-in-hand with worsening economy. That’s certainly the case with our personal 2.0-litre Kia Sportage, but with the Honda the difference seems to be marginal.

I guess that fact that the economy is now more commonly mid-fifties than high-fifties isn’t really much of a reason to worry. It means the HR-V diesel still an amazingly economical vehicle, and with fuel currently at 97.9p for a gallon, it’s makes for very cheap motoring.

Honda HR-V long-term review: part one

Two interesting missives relating to the Honda arrived in February. The first was that Automotive Management magazine had voted the HR-V its 2016 New Car of the Year. The accolade commended the “coupe-like looks, impressive practicality, efficient engines and keen pricing”.

I am not surprised. The ever-popular crossover sector of the new car market seems to have no limit to its growth, and Honda’s canny entry – sitting below its cavernous CR-V – hits the nail on the head for those looking for something a bit more compact.

The big deal, as I have already found out, is the impressive interior volume, which means there’s little loss of space compared with many outwardly larger rivals.

I also spoke to another journalist who is running an identical HR-V for a number of months. She commented on her disappointment with the fuel economy. That surprised me because that same day, driving 60 miles to Farnborough airport, the trip computer told me I had achieved 70mpg through the steady but slow roadworks that blighted the journey.

But I hadn’t carried out a proper tank-to-tank measurement for some time so I checked that a day later. Sure enough, it was still firmly in the 55-60mpg range over a full tank, although that was a few mpg less than the computer claimed. But I’ll forgive it, as the difference was less than 5%.

Highly rated by owners

The second notification was from Honda, directing me to the review site ‘Reevoo’. Here, more than 350 owners of HR-Vs had posted their opinions of ownership and it made for fascinating reading. What they love are the ‘Magic’ rear seats that flip up or down to vary cargo space as you choose, along with the space, high driving position and easy driving nature.

Apart from the seats, these characteristics are what you’d expect in most crossovers and SUVs, but it does seem that Honda has gone a bit further than most in raising the bar.

Perhaps too far in some areas. Many of these owners reflect my view that the satellite-navigation-cum-media-centre is wilfully overcomplicated. Also, they note that there’s not enough oddment stowage space within reach of the driver, the tailgate doesn’t open high enough, and a fair few bemoan the fact that there is no spare wheel (which, of course, helps boost boot space).

I can understand these viewpoints, but despite the moans the HR-V gets some very strong overall ratings on Reevoo, something I find hard to argue with. Still, I do wish that I could get my Samsung phone fully linked in so I could make use of the ‘Aha app integration’. I am very curious to know just what this does.

Time for a trip to a Honda dealer, I reckon. Because, like HR-V owners, I find the handbook is simply too large and impenetrable.

Specification: 2015 Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX manual

Price (October 2015): £24,495

Price with options: £25,470 (metallic paint £525)

Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel

Power: 120hp

Torque: 221lb ft

0-62mph: 10.5 secs

Top speed: 119mph

Fuel economy: 68.9mpg

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Honda Civic sportier ‘because we are allowed to’

Honda Civic prototype

The 10th generation Honda Civic is able to be significantly more stylish and sporting than today’s car because the model is traditionally the one where Honda experiments and tries new things – so does not suffer the generation-shift restrictions rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf do.

“The Civic has always been the Honda where engineers are allowed to try new things,” said the car’s chief designer, 39-year-old Daisuke Tsutamori.

“If you look at its history, it usually always looks different generation-to-generation. There’s always something new.”

The exception to this was the Golf-style evolution from the eight generation model to today’s ninth generation car – something Honda admits was driven by older customers’ preference for more of the same. This may have been a mistake, the firm now concendes. “The 10th generation model is designed to be more desirable to younger people.”

Built on an all-new global platform, the European Civic hatchback is previewed in concept for at the Geneva Motor Show by the Civic Prototype. Some of the more dynamic features won’t make it to mainstream versions of the launch car, admitted Tsutamori-san, but the basic sporting profile is faithful.

“It’s a dramatic change – the proportions are lower and wider, and the rear is much more inclined, almost a coupe silhouette. The overhangs are short and the focus is the centre of the car, which we think exposes its dynamics.”

Tsutamori-san admitted the style change wasn’t easy to get past Honda management though. “Management is not the youngest, and they were very concerned with ease of use, such as getting in and out.” Thanks to careful (and canny) design leadership on Tsutamori’s part, management’s concerns were eased when they got hands on with a full-size prototype.

“It may be sportier-looking, but we haven’t forgotten practicality,” said Tsutamori-san. “Our development principal is MM – machine minimum, man maximum,” an edict faithfully applied to the new Civic.

“Even boot space has increased over the current car” – and that’s despite the new 10th generation Civic returning to a high-tech multi-link suspension setup at the rear.

Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz (2015) road test review

Honda Jazz

The Honda Jazz has always been more mini-MPV than traditional supermini. This third-generation car, launched in 2015, doesn’t mess with a highly successful formula.

Its ‘one-box’ shape equates to class-leading interior space and versatility. And you can expect outstanding reliability, too – past versions are among the most dependable cars on the road.

02_Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz: What are its rivals?

The bestselling car in this class (and, indeed, the UK’s bestseller overall) is the Ford Fiesta. It’s more fun to drive than the Jazz, but nowhere near as practical. The Skoda Fabia and Toyota Yaris are perhaps a better fit for buyers interested in sensible, value-for-money motoring. Unlike the Honda, the Toyota is available as a petrol/electric hybrid (the Jazz Hybrid has been discontinued).

03_Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz: Which engines does it use?

The Hybrid is no more and Honda has never offered a Jazz with a diesel engine. So your choice is limited to a 102hp 1.3-litre petrol engine. Yep, just the one. It propels the Jazz to 62mph in 11.2 seconds, or 12.0 seconds if you opt for the CVT automatic gearbox (more on that shortly). Honda’s i-VTEC variable valve timing boosts performance higher up the rev range, without the pronounced ‘step’ in power delivery that characterised VTEC engines of old.

04_Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz: What’s it like to drive?

The Jazz isn’t a particularly fun car to drive, but it’s far from unpleasant. The controls are light and the boxy shape offers good visibility for parking. Ride comfort is noticeably better than the old Jazz, too. Its 1.3-litre engine is adequate around town, but feels a bit breathless on the open road. That feeling is exacerbated by the CVT auto gearbox fitted to our test car, which holds the engine at constant revs when you accelerate. It make for rather noisy and lethargic progress – opt for the six-speed manual if you can.

05_Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz: Fuel economy and running costs

The CVT gearbox may blunt performance, but it has a positive effect on fuel economy. The basic S model returns 56.5mpg with a manual ’box and 61.4mpg with the CVT. Likewise, CO2 emissions are 116g/km or 106g/km, which equates to annual car tax (VED) of £30 and £20 respectively. The Jazz is cheap to insure and its famed reliability should mean low maintenance bills.

06_Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz: Is it practical?

Oh yes. It’s apt that the photo above looks like a huge black hole, because this car will swallow almost anything. With the rear seats in place, boot capacity is 354 litres – about the same as a Volkswagen Golf (a car from the class above). Fold the seats flat and that expands to a whopping 1,314 litres. A Ford Fiesta manages just 914 litres. The Jazz also has Honda’s brilliant ‘Magic’ rear seats, with flip-up bases that create a floor-to-ceiling loadspace.

07_Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz: What about safety?

The latest Jazz hasn’t been subjected to Euro NCAP’s crash tests yet, although the old car scored a maximum five stars. An automatic emergency braking system is now standard, and all cars apart from the entry-level S come with the Driver Assist Safety Pack. This includes a lane-departure warning system, traffic-sign recognition and automatic high-beam headlights. The latter were quick to react and very effective on dark country lanes. However, we’d put a black mark against the new touchscreen media system; its clunky menus force you to take your eyes off the road.

08_Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz: Which version should I go for?

There’s no choice of engines, but we’d avoid the sluggish (and £1,100 extra) CVT gearbox – especially if you drive mostly outside urban areas. Trim levels start at S (£13,495 with a manual gearbox), then rise through SE (£14,595), SE Navi (£15,205), EX (£15,715) and EX Navi (£16,325). We’d opt for the well-equipped SE and spend £100 on a portable sat nav, rather than forking out a hefty £510 for Honda’s built-in nav.

09_Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz: Should I buy one?

Fans of the old Honda Jazz (and there are many) will find much to love in this practical package. And if reliability matches the two previous models, it should be utterly painless to live with. Is that enough? It depends what your priorities are. If you crave driving enjoyment, the Fiesta remain the obvious choice. Equally, the Skoda Fabia offers a better all-round blend of quality and refinement. However, the Jazz is still the most sensible supermini you can buy.

10_Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz: Pub fact

The Jazz is Honda’s bestselling car worldwide. The original (above) was launched in 2001 and immediately won the Car Of The Year award in Japan, where it’s known as the Honda Fit. A stretched version of the car, called the Fit Shuttle, was also sold in Japan.

From lawn mowers to the Civic Type R: we drive Honda’s model range

From lawn mowers to the Civic Type R: we drive Honda’s model range

From lawn mowers to the Civic Type R: we drive Honda’s model range

Can you remember 1965? It was the year the Beatles performed the first stadium concert in the history of music, and Tom and Jerry made their debut. Cigarette advertising was banned on British TV, the Sound of Music premiered and Churchill was buried.

But it was also the year Honda first came to the UK – meaning it’s now celebrating 50 years of selling, er, things here.

Why ‘things’? Well, although you may think of Honda as being that company that makes the Jazz (your nan’s pride and joy, right?), it also makes record-breaking hot hatches, trusty all-terrain vehicles and even lawnmowers. So, for its 50th birthday party, Honda got together a load of its things and we went along to try them out.

Honda Civic Type R

Honda Civic Type R

We’ve already spent a lot of time in the new Civic Type R, but there’s nothing quite like a soaking-wet race track for showing off just how capable it is. With 310hp going through the front wheels, there is only so much its systems can do to prevent torque steer if you chuck it into a greasy corner with too much throttle. But lift off at that moment and enjoy the Type R’s adjustability. It’ll go properly sideways very easily, while depressing your right foot brings it nicely back into line and makes you feel like Gordon Shedden.

That’s until you have a passenger ride with Gordon Shedden. Which we did. The Scot, crowned British Touring Car Champion for the second time just a few weeks ago, manages to hold a conversation while teasing the Type R with the handbrake and showing just how far that adjustability extends when you’re one of the country’s handiest drivers.

Go karts

Go karts

You could say the Honda Civic Type R ‘handles like a go kart’, but we won’t. Not only because it’s a lazy cliche, but also because, on a wet track, you could say it handles better than a go kart.

Honda let us loose on a tight, twisty track in one of its karts – only it was very, very damp. With little more than four wheels, a seat and an engine, it’s very easy to find yourself understeering towards a tyre wall and wishing you had the Civic Type R’s clever electronics to make you look more skillful than you actually are.

Still, engage your brain and learn how to extract the best out of the karts (stamp on the brakes until the back end starts to swing around and then drift, yo) and you’ll have an awful lot of fun in them – if not achieve a particularly good lap time.

ATV

ATV

Honda offers free training with the sale of all its new all-terrain vehicles. You may scoff but if you’ve never ridden one before, it’s definitely worth it. Rik Mayall and Ozzie Osborne both diced with death following serious quad bike accidents – and they were both experienced riders.

But that’s enough of the scary stuff. Hammering around the off-road site at Silverstone (we stayed away from the circuit on the ATVs…), you can have an absolute blast at relatively low speeds. It takes a little bit of getting used to – the hand throttle, for example – and they don’t turn quite like a go kart. But for farmers and those who need to tackle tough terrain, there really is little else that comes close.

Lawn mower

Lawn mower

Honda holds the world record for the fastest ever lawn mower – bagged last year with its 109hp Mean Mower, capable of 130mph. That thing is nuts – created with input from Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden, it boasts a high-carbon steel chassis and a 2.0-litre engine from a Honda VTR Firestorm.

We weren’t allowed to drive that at Silverstone (something about health and safety), but we did get a go on a more down-to-earth (common or garden?) mower. The only complication here is that the accelerator is operated using the left-hand pedal, with reverse on the right and a brake in the middle. Yup, we promptly reversed it into a fence.

Still, in keeping with a theme that’s starting to become clear, it’s amazing how much fun it’s possible to have in something many regard as little more than a tool. Seriously, if you’ve got an acre or two, invest in one of these.

Motorbike

Motorbike

And finally, Honda let us loose on a motorbike. We say ‘let us loose’, but a lack of motorbike licence meant we were restricted to a pillion ride. However, it still made for an exciting experience for someone who has never been on a bike before. It’s not as scary as you may expect – pootling through the countryside is pleasurable even at a gentle pace.

The Honda VFR1200F we ‘rode’ is powered by a 170hp V4 engine, combined with a dual-clutch transmission that provided almost-imperceptible gearchanges.

Honda Civic Type R

Honda Civic Type R review: 2015 first drive

We’re among the first to drive the all-new Honda Civic Type R, finally here a full five years after the last one was phased out. Has it been worth the wait?

Honda Civic Type R: Overview

Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R was last sold in 2010. Five years later, the all-new one joins a crowded marketplace. Volkswagen’s Golf GTI continues to thrive, the RenaultSport Megane and SEAT Leon Cupra have been busy fighting one another for the Nurburgring crown and Ford’s been readying both a facelifted Focus ST and a snarling new Mustang-engined RS.

Honda’s answer is, in classic Type R style, striking. The new five-door hatch has 310hp, can do 167mph and accelerate from 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds. Every single rival, immediately beaten. It’s also snatched Nurburgring FWD lap record honours from an aghast Renault and SEAT and, more controversially, risked leaving Type R traditionalists aghast by enhancing the VTEC engine with a turbo for the first time.

The fact it looks so incredibly fearsome has partly helped ally the fears. This is, in an instant, the most aggressive and specialised hot hatch on sale, with kudos coming from the fact the bodykit’s not just for show, either: it’s the first hot hatch to generate negative lift at speed, both front and rear.

As for the £29,995 list price – or the £32,295 price of the GT pack model 1 in 2 buyers will go for – it initially seems higher than rivals but, adjusted for specification and, vitally, considering the Type R’s performance advantage, it’s actually pretty sharp. There’s even a finance deal that lets you buy it for £300 a month.

Still, questions remain though. How on earth can a front-wheel drive car (no, Honda’s not given it four-wheel drive) cope with 310hp of turbo-boosted power? And can a Type R with a turbo possibly wear the legendary red badge proudly?

The answers, Honda Type R fans, will please you…

Honda Civic Type R: On the road

Honda Civic Type R

Only the first few hundred yards of your first drive will have you fearing the Civic Type R is too extreme: at low speed, the ride is undeniably stiff and sensitive to potholes, smashing and crashing severely at times. Let the suspension do its work, rather than just the shallow-profile 19-inch tyres, and things improve considerably.

Honda has completely redesigned the suspension of the Civic Type R. It has torque steer-quelling dual axis front suspension, a twice-as-stiff rear twist beam and high-tech ADS adaptive dampers as standard. Those dampers make it surprisingly supple, compliant and controlled at speed, but can be firmed up 30% at the press of an R+ button: this feels good.

What feels even better is booting the accelerator hard and feeling the full force of 310hp. Not because it’s explosive, but because the front wheels defy odds by digging in, finding traction and delivering all that power to the road, rather than spinning it away in a smokey, torque-steer-laden mess. The bite of the Civic’s front end is little short of astounding that Honda’s been able to make it do this. Rivals could learn plenty.

Honda Civic Type R

Perhaps the characteristics of the engine help. We told chief engineer Hisayuki Yagi that we felt it was VTEC first, with added turbo power, rather than the other way around. He beamed: the smile said it all. You still have to rev it like a VTEC, still get the biggest bang as you near the 7,000rpm redline: only this time, there is some semblance of torquey pull lower down – oh, and the small matter of an extra 110hp over the previous VTEC engine that didn’t have a turbo.

Be in no doubt, the Civic Type R has attitude. It responds with immediacy, is lively and electric, rewards you immensely for driving it with manic vigour. It’s just that this time, there’s a welcome layer of usability, flexibility and rolling comfort on top. Buyers are going to find this very appealing indeed.

What it can’t match, though, is the ultimate precision of the class-leading Renaultsport Megane Trophy (and it’s near-perfect £38k cousin, the 1-of-15 Trophy-R). If you’re after the last edge of fingertip precision from the steering, detail-flooding feedback from the front end and solid confidence to use the brakes very, very hard indeed, you should still go for the otherwise aged and dated Megane. For the rest of us, the Civic’s likely to plain electrify.

Ford Focus RS development team, were you expecting this?

Honda Civic Type R: On the inside

Honda Civic Type R

The interior of the regular Civic has been richened with Type R specifics, but it’s still the weak area of the car. Impeccably assembled, it’s still too plasticky in appearance, with a downmarket appearance to the trim that’s more budget city car rather than Audi-like Volkswagen.

The Type R bits are a complete success though. The chunky, flat-bottom steering wheel is lovely, classic titanium-topped gearlever beautiful and even the dials have been given a polished appearance. Alcantara trim has neat red stitching, red seat belts are retro-tastic and we love the bespoke electronic dials that appear when you press the red R+ button.

Honda Civic Type R

The best bit are the seats. They are exceptional, some of the best seats you’ll find in any car. Be careful when you first get in, because the deeply bucketed bolsters are hard and hip-hugging, but the focused grasp they hold you in is a treat. They look brilliant and endow the Civic Type R with further Porsche 911 GT3 RS vibes.

It’s practical, too. The 498-litre boot is disarmingly large – like, really large, particularly in depth – and the rear cabin is awash with space as well. All Type R are well equipped – choose the GT for sat nav, tech goodies and a better stereo – and, overall, it’s a supremely practical family-focused hot hatch that just happens to also do 167mph and 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds.

Honda Civic Type R: Running costs

Honda Civic Type R

Honda claim 38.7mpg and 170g/km CO2 for the Civic Type R which, considering its stonking performance, seems pretty fair. It’s considerably more fuel efficient than the 2010-spec Type R, despite its 110 extra horses, if not a match for the 47.1mpg Golf (220hp) or Ford Focus ST (250hp).

The £29,995 list price is sweetened by that £299 a month PCP finance deal; it requires a 30% deposit but that’s still striking accessibility for the hot hatch of the moment. Honda says upgrading to the GT pack will only cost £10 a month more.

We only expect positive news for depreciation too. Honda’s currently quoting a five-month delivery time, and that’s before any reviews of the car were published: when they are, the firm expects this to grow further as demand builds. It can only help strengthen used values further.

Honda Civic Type R: Verdict

Honda Civic Type R

Honda has delivered better than we ever expected with the Civic Type R. On paper, it shouldn’t work; in practice, it does so with considerable ability and real charisma.

STATISTICS: 2015 Honda Civic Type R

Power: 310hp at 6,500rpm

Torque: 295lb ft at 2,500rpm

0-62mph: 5.7 seconds

Top speed: 167mph

Combined fuel economy: 38.7mpg

CO2: 170g/km

RIVALS: 2015 Honda Civic Type R

Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV

BMW M135i

Ford Focus RS

Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy-R

SEAT Leon Cupra

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Vauxhall Astra VXR

Honda Civic Type R 2015

7 ways the Honda Civic Type R rewrites the hot hatch rulebook

Honda Civic Type R 2015Honda has taken ages launching the new Civic Type R. Years, in fact. Some never expected it to ever arrive but now it’s finally here, going on sale in Europe this summer with a set of stats that knock every rival into shape.

It’s the fastest, quickest-accelerating, most powerful hot hatch in the sector. It’s certainly the most outlandish-looking. And, with prices starting from £29,995, it’s certainly one of the most expensive too.

Honda Type R: a history in pictures

But chasing headlines is one thing. Delivering on the road and on the track is another. Honda, though, has delivered, and then some. Here are seven ways in which it’s rewritten the hot hatch rulebook.

1: It looks quite amazing

Honda Civic Type R 2015

There’s not a hot hatch on the market that looks as exciting as the Civic Type R. With its flared arches, multi-vented front wings, wrap-around front splitter, huge 19-inch alloys and, of course, god’s own rear spoiler, nobody could possibly confuse it for anything else. It’s wow factor overload.

The rear wing is so big, it casts shadows on the ground and pokes out both sides of car into the view of the door mirrors. It’s not just ‘big’, either, but complex in shape and sculpture: Honda’s WTCC racing team has designed it to produce downforce at speed.

You can get it in classic Type R Championship White, but we preferred the launch red alternative, which looked even more bespoke, purposeful and race-ready. Here is your hot hatch equivalent of the Porsche 911 GT3 RS.

2: It combines space and practicality with a monster set of seats

Honda Civic Type R 2015

First thing we noticed inside the Civic Type R was the colossal 498-litre boot. It’s as unexpectedly deep as, well, a 911’s front trunk is (mounting the fuel tank in the centre’s how they’ve done it).

Then we opened the rear doors (it’s five-door only) and clocked the unexpectedly spacious rear, with loads of legroom despite the chunky high-backed front seats. It’s probably the most practical, family-friendly hot hatch out there.

Honda Civic Type R 2015

And then into the front, to be presented with a simply brilliant set of front bucket seats. They sit you 20mm lower than a standard Civic (a bit lower would be nicer still) and are so deeply and firmly bolstered, it hurts you to get in and out of them if you drop in like a normal car.

Instead, you need to get in and out like a racing driver. Which is rather fitting, really.

3: It’s got serious attitude

Honda Civic Type R 2015

Pressing the starter button fires Honda’s first-ever turbo VTEC engine into a rumbly, focused tickover. It’s ‘there’, alright. The first time into first will have you double-shifting to check it’s actually selected – that’s how short-shift the ultra-snappy gearbox is.

Right away, it shows its attitude. In town, the ride can be painfully firm as the bespoke Continental tyres clatter into potholes and over expansion joints. Both engine and exhausts are prominent, and the gradual explode as turbo boost builds with higher revs is grin-inducingly lively.

With its black cabin, central rev counter, small flat-bottom steering wheel, taut seats, surface aggression, quick-witted steering and fast-reacting front end, the Civic Type R had attitude, alright. As speeds build, you discover it’s of the serious and skilled sort.

4: It’s an explosive performer

Honda Civic Type R 2015

VTEC AND a turbo? 310hp, 295lb ft of torque, 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and a 167mph top speed? Guess what – it’s fast. It’s not the manic sort of speed that you got in the old Type R, where all the go was delivered at howling revs just shy of the redline.

No, this is the explosive sort of performance: way more speed than you expect is served up way more quickly than you think. It’s more subtle than non-turbo Type Rs but, at the same time, more purposeful, giving more bang for buck.

It isn’t like some other turbos, where you get loads of easy-going shove at low revs. There can be a bit of lag in the mid-range and you’ll still have to use the ultra-fast gearshift more than you do in a SEAT Leon Cupra. Sure, it’s not as flat as the older Type Rs at walking revs – but boy, does it share their love of revs.

You still naturally howl it past the 4,000rpm boom patch and keep it in the loud, aggressive-sounding 5,000-7,000rpm zone, because this is where it relishes being. Here, it’s positive, double-take fast, thrilling and spoiled only by the sudden onset of the rev limiter at the 7k redline.

Throw it into another gear at rifle-bolt speed and let the perfectly-spaced gear ratios take you straight back into the engine’s sweet spot. And chase after that Porsche Cayman you’re keeping honest.

5: Would you believe, it can handle all its power?

Honda Civic Type R 2015

ALL that power through just TWO front wheels? Is Honda serious? At the first bootful, you expect either the front tyres to light up, the traction control to go into overload or the front end to torque steer plain off the road – or a fantastic combination of all three – so it’s little short of amazing to discover it does none of this.

Instead, the front wheels bite and cleanly let the fiery engine’s full whack take effect. Just the odd tweak of the steering wheel and tiniest bit of front end sniff let you in on just how jolly hard the helical limited-slip differential and its associated components are working.

It’s not through accident, this rewriting of the front-wheel drive rulebook. Honda’s developed double-axis front suspension to minimise the lever effects of torque steer. Tirelessly developed the Continental tyres’ characteristics. Even engineered two grades of material elasticity for left and right driveshafts so that they bend at the same rate despite being different lengths.

6: It’s hardcore without being hard-edged

Honda Civic Type R 2015

As you’ve perhaps guessed, the Civic Type R hasn’t gone soft. The engine is loud, exhausts snort, the ride can bite, the seats can bite and you’ll easily make mincemeat of almost every other hot hatch you’ll encounter.

But it’s not too much. At speed, it cruises with surprisingly little wind or tyre noise (only the engine remains prominent, and we quite like that). The high-speed ride quality is unbelievably fluid, supple and controlled – adaptive dampers are standard and they give controlled cushioning some big wheel’d rivals can only dream of.

The extra torque over a non-turbo VTEC makes everyday driving a whole lot easier too, particularly when the pedals and gearshift operate with this much racecar precision.

That’s the difference between this car and the old Civic Type R. That was hard-edged and, at times, too much. This one has all the attitude but only rarely crosses the line into truly uncomfortable aggression.

Even when you purposefully ask for more attitude and press the ‘R+’ button on the dash – dials go red, dampers go 30% stiffer, steering goes heavier, engine response goes faster – does it stay sane. It’s a sport mode that actually works rather than just making things a bit more frenetic.

The Renaultsport Megane Trophy-R probably still edges it for on-centre steering feel and sharpness. Its more uncompromising chassis setup means the right-roads interaction might shade the Civic Type R. But it’s the more intense, more full-on experience of the two as a result. That the Civic gives all the hardcore thrills it does without doubling the Megane’s more hard-edged nature is quite something.

7: It’s temptingly affordable

Honda Civic Type R 2015

£30,000 is a lot for a hot hatch, at first glance. But it’s not so much for a 310hp hot hatch, and it’s a full £8,000 cheaper than the Renaultsport Megane Trophy-R whose Nurburgring lap record Honda earlier this year announced it had stolen.

There’s a Type R GT too, adding more luxuries, sat nav and a better stereo for a £2,300 lift: spot these cars on the road from their red stripe detail in the front and rear bumpers.

It does 38.7mpg and emits 170g/km CO2, so will go further on a gallon and cost less to tax than the old Type R, and Honda will even sell you five years’ servicing for a mere £500. Remarkable.

Best of all, you can buy it for £300 a month. OK, you need a 30% deposit, but it’s still one of the best hot hatches you can buy for a mere £10 a day. £10 a month more will get you into the GT too, adds Honda.

VERDICT: 2015 Honda Civic Type R

Honda Civic Type R 2015

The 2015 Honda Civic is a searing hot hatch that brings proper attitude and double-take performance to the sector. As rivals become more urbane, it’s a welcome blast of Type R past, one that’s been made more contemporary thanks to turbo tech, smart differentials and suspension setup, clever dampers and other surprisingly exotic technologies for a £30k car.

It shouldn’t work: Type R enthusiasts should hate it as it’s a turbo Type R, but they’ll love it as it’s still a revvy VTEC at heart. And purists should hate it because it goes against everything we’re told about how much power you can put through two front wheels, and makes it work with hungry, sharp-tooth’d bite.

It’s a welcome addition to the blossoming hot hatch sector, and a welcome return to form for Honda and Type R. Right now, as the Renaultsport Megane ages, the Golf GTI awaits more power and we await the Ford Focus RS, it might just be the best big-bang hot hatch out there.

STATISTICS: 2015 Honda Civic Type R

Power: 310hp at 6,500rpm

Torque: 295lb ft at 2,500rpm

0-62mph: 5.7 seconds

Top speed: 167mph

Combined fuel economy: 38.7mpg

CO2: 170g/km

RIVALS: 2015 Honda Civic Type R

Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV

BMW M135i

Ford Focus RS

Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy-R

SEAT Leon Cupra

Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance Pack

Research a new Honda Civic

Buy a used Honda Civic Type R on Auto Trader

HondaJet

HondaJet in public flight debut – and it’s coming to Britain

HondaJetThe HondaJet aircraft will make its first public appearances in Japan and Europe later this month as it begins a 26,000 nautical mile, 13-country world debut flight tour.

What’s more, the HondaJet is coming to Britain – it’s set to appear in both Farnborough and Birmingham, following its world public in Japan on April 25th.

The advanced light jet will fly from Japan to the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition – EBACE – in Geneva on May 19th, before then commencing a demonstration tour with HondaJet dealers in six countries.

Birmingham and Farnborough are confirmed stops on this tour, along with Geneva, Antwerp, Paris, Munich, Hamburg, Munich and Warsaw.

The fastest, highest-flying, quietest and most fuel efficient jet in its class, the HondaJet realises a dream of Honda founder Soichiro Honda. “The HondaJet world tour is a tribute to Honda’s challenging spirit to bring something truly innovative to business aviation,” said Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino.

“The HondaJet has broad appeal in this region with its speed, superior efficiency, and a range that connects most of the major cities in Europe and the United Kingdom.”

Honda Civic Swindon 2015

Honda secures Swindon plant with £200 million investment

Honda Civic Swindon 2015Honda has revealed the future of its Swindon car plant is secure by announcing it will receive £200 million investment to build the next generation Civic. Read more

Honda Civic Type R Nurburgring record

Honda Civic Type R sets 7m50.63s Nurburgring record – video

Honda Civic Type R Nurburgring recordHonda has revealed it has set a new Nurburgring Nordschleife front-drive lap record with the Civic Type R – smashing the Renault Megane Trophy-R’s time by nearly four seconds. Read more