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2018 Honda Civic Type R First Drive Review

Honda Australia and Type R enthusiasts have been waiting over five years to see the new red H badge land down under, and finally the fastest front-wheel drive car around the Nurburgring circuit is here. Perhaps being the fastest front-wheel drive car isn’t really going to cut it though when Honda says it has its sights set on sticky all-wheel drive rivals like the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R. And then there’s its price which, at £50,990, is dead-on with the wickedly quick RS and only a couple of thousand less than the refined manual-equipped Golf R.

Vehicle Style: Small hot hatch Price: £50,990 plus on-road costs Engine/trans: 228kW/400Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, | 6spd manual

Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.8 l/100km

OVERVIEW

Not only does the Civic Type R join competent rivals in the market like the RS and Golf R, it has upcoming models to contend with such as the Hyundai i30 N and Renault Sport Megane RS. Helping it stand out from its competitors is a design that looks like something dreamt up in a school yard playground. And although it isn’t for everyone, Honda says all of those exterior bits serve a purpose to increase grip by producing downforce when speeds get over 100km/h.

Some of the design also serves more than one purpose, such as the height of the rear-wing which generates immense negative lift but also sits so high that it doesn’t appear in the rear-view mirror.

And although a little ostentatious in design the Type R isn’t gaudy when you see it in the metal. It also looks rather appealing in flat grey which, aside from looking subtler, has an interesting tint of blue and green. Just about all of the scoops and vents serve a purpose too, such as the bonnet scoop that’s plumbed to cool the cavity between the engine and firewall.

THE INTERIOR

  • Type R: Cloth seat trim sports seats, leather steering wheel, keyless entry, automatic headlights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, 20-inch alloy wheels
  • Infotainment: 7.0-inch touchscreen, DAB+ radio, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility, SM© USB and Aux input
  • Cargo Volume: 440 litres to rear seats

Inside, the Type R continues the ‘Boy Racer’ theme with bright red sports seats and coloured ascents across the dash.

The sports seats are also embossed with Type R stitched across the head rest but again practicality dictates that they are ergonomic and comfortable. The leather steering wheel lacks the classic race feel of Alcantara but is nice in the hands and features buttons to some of the standard Honda Sensing safety features, which include adaptive cruise control, AEB and lane keeping assist. Unlike its fierce Focus RS rival, the driver’s seat sits low and allows for a good driving position, even for tall drivers.

The pedals are well spaced too and, despite there being an automatic throttle blip when downshifting (which can be turned off), they are well positioned for heel and toe driving.

Infotainment is delivered on a 7.0-inch infotainment screen and takes care of entertainment with features such as DAB+ radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Reversing camera and dual-zone climate controls also use the display. Unlike some of its two-door ancestors the five-door Type R hatch isn’t just for childless street racers and the rear seats accommodate adults and kids well.

The 440-litre boot also grows in capacity with the 60:40 seats folded flat. While the interior is an improvement over other Civic models and feels nicer inside than Ford’s nearest rival it lacks the refinement of the Golf R.

ON THE ROAD

  • Engine: 228kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol
  • Transmission: six-speed manual, front wheel drive
  • Suspension: Modified MacPherson strut front, multilink rear
  • Brakes: Brembo four-wheel disc brakes, 350mm front and 305mm rear rotors
  • Steering: Dual-pinion electric power steering

The latest Type R is a departure from the naturally aspirated VTEC rev-pots of old and introduces turbocharged technology for the first time. Power is provided from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that produces 228kW at 6500rpm and 400Nm between 2500-4500rpm.

Honda believes the Type R is a purist’s car and so it is only available mated to a six-speed manual transmission with no option for an automatic. Honda also opted for a single-scroll turbocharger rather than the more common twin-scroll so it lacks torque under 3000rpm. To circumvent turbo lag the Type R relies on using its VTEC (variable timing and lift electronic control) technology to create more pulling power earlier on.

The result is a fiery four-cylinder engine, but putting such tremendous power (the AWD Golf R develops less power, for instance) through the front-wheels was a challenge for Honda engineers. To negate torque steer and axle tramp, Honda modified the Macpherson strut front suspensions and created what it calls ‘dual axis strut’ – similar to RevoKnuckle in the previous front-wheel drive Ford Focus RS. The result, Honda claims, is a 55 per cent reduction in torque steer with improved steering feel when powering on.

Other modifications to the front-end include the addition of dual-pinion electronic assisted steering, a helical limited slip differential and when cornering the inside brake helps point the car in.

Along with extra weld points around the car the rear multi-link suspension has been stiffened, but ride comfort is improved thanks to electromagnetic adaptive suspension with a new-to-Type R ‘comfort’ mode – sure to be appreciated by the mature crowd. There’s three drive modes in total – comfort, sport and +R mode – and Sport is the default when turning on the ignition. On the road, comfort mode does provide a gentler ride compared to either sport or +R although it doesn’t go so far as to disguise the inherently stiffer design and re-engineering of the standard Civic’s chassis.

The benefit to all of that stiffening, however, is that the Type R is setup to handle well and provides tack sharp response from the front-end. The difference between sport and +R mode isn’t large, but +R mode gives a firmer and sharper ride without being a handful on poorer road surfaces.

When we quizzed Honda about its thoughts on pitching a front-wheel drive hot hatch against all-wheel drive rivals its simplest answer is probably its best: “Just wait until you drive it, you’ll understand what we’re saying”. The Type R is not the point-and-shoot weapon of something like the Focus RS, but drive it properly and there’s such a great amount of grip available that it doesn’t ever seem ready to let go.

It’s so planted, in fact, that it loses the playful trailing throttle character of some rivals (and older Type Rs), but driven ever faster it holds onto the road like a cattle dog chasing sheep. It also hides its speed well so it’s easy to glance down and see the needle further north than anticipated, however excess speed is easily pulled back thanks to strong Brembo brakes with four piston callipers biting onto 350mm front and 305mm rear rotors. And the brakes held up brilliantly after a long day of use.

Despite feeling accurate and confident on turn-in, a lack of communication gives the feeling of filtered feedback regardless of the driving mode. And its 245/30 Continental SportContact 6 on large 20-inch alloy wheels were noisy regardless of road surface. In conjunction with a firm ride the Civic Type R doesn’t make for a comfortable commuter, although it shines on twisting roads.

Looking at specs the Civic Type R has one of the most powerful engines found in a front-wheel drive car, but the lag below 3000rpm is noticeable regardless of what the VTEC is doing; above it the car pulls hard well past 6000rpm.

It isn’t the same VTEC screamer of old anymore but it does have a long enough torque range that the middle gears are all that’s needed for many twisting roads. Which is a shame considering that the six-speed manual transmission with a short-shift is lovely to flick around. And when you do get stuck into it, the automatic rev matching works on both the up and down shifts, and it works well.

Despite our test roads varying in condition from buttery smooth to falling apart, the Type R was doing its best to remain settled. Torque steer was usually absent with only minimal intervention on tighter corners, which inspires confidence to push get on the accelerator earlier than expected. Perhaps what was missing most is a good soundtrack from the rear.

The triple exhaust setup provides a Euro-inspired rasp rather than screaming VTEC rumble and as a further nod to the mature Type R crowd the centre exhaust works as a vacuum when cruising to reduce resonance. Higher in the rev range the soundtrack does improve, even it doesn’t seem to befit the Type R’s intent.

SAFETY

ANCAP Rating: Not yet rated Safety Features: Six airbags, stability control, ABS, AEB, forward collision warning, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist and active cruise control.

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

The Ford Focus RS shares the Civic Type R’s price and offers quicker performance that’s more easily accessible.

The Volkswagen Golf R outclasses the Type R inside and is just as capable on the road, albeit a little more expensive. There’s also incoming competition from the Renault Sport Megane RS and Hyundai i30 N, although pricing is not available yet.

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

The Type R landed with a lot of hype and much of it was warranted. It impresses with its ability to grip unlike many and Honda’s trick front-end setup makes torque steer seem almost non-existent.

But it’s not too dissimilar to the previous Ford Focus RS which went the way of all-wheel drive, and perhaps that’s the future for the Type R if Honda want to dominate the segment.

However, there’s plenty on offer from the Type R and beyond enthusiasts who are already lining up it’s one of the more rewarding hot hatches when driven properly.

The inclusion of Honda’s complete safety suite and infotainment with good connectivity options help bolster its value proposition.

MORE: Honda News and Reviews
VISIT THE SHOWROOM: Honda Civic Models – Price, Features and Specifications[1][2]

References

  1. ^ Honda News and Reviews (www.themotorreport.com.au)
  2. ^ Honda Civic Models – Price, Features and Specifications (www.themotorreport.com.au)

South Park: The Fractured But Whole Review

After over 15 years of bad South Park[1] games, fans of the show were understandably skeptical when The Stick of Truth[2] was released. We had heard about Trey Parker[3] and Matt Stone[4]‘s involvement throughout the development process, but we’d been burned too many times to get optimistic. To the surprise of many, it turned out to be a great, lighthearted RPG that served as one of the best uses of a license in video games.

With a change in developers and the novelty value of playing through the world of the show gone, I was skeptical if a sequel would live up to the experience of the original. For the first couple of hours of South Park: The Fractured But Whole, I had serious doubts. The kids have abandoned the fantasy motif of the last game and adopted superhero alter egos as they search for a missing cat.

These personas are taken from the 2009 multi-episode arc around Cartman’s alter ego, the Coon. As someone who didn’t find that story interesting or funny enough for one episode (let alone a trilogy), I wasn’t exactly looking forward to inhabiting those characters for an entire game.

Unsurprisingly, Cartman plays a central role in the story.Unsurprisingly, Cartman plays a central role in the story.

The first thing the game had me do was complete a quicktime event to poop in a toilet. My first load screen featured a “never fart on someone’s balls” tooltip.

While cheap toilet humor was certainly omnipresent in the early seasons of the show (and in The Stick of Truth, if we’re being honest), my favorite years were the ones that leaned heavier into satire and social commentary. Farts may be objectively hilarious, but I was worried that they would be the core source of attempted humor throughout the story.

The look and feel of the show is replicated perfectly.The look and feel of the show is replicated perfectly.

Once the game opened up a bit, I started exploring the town and getting more concerned. I walked through a neighbor’s house and heard the Lemmiwinks[5] theme song playing from the television.

I found some Memberberries and listened to them wax nostalgic about Star Wars and You Can’t Do That on Television. I saw references to Medicinal Fried Chicken and people getting high off of cat urine. Even poop jokes seem more inspired than simply recycling bits of the show for easy fan service.

Thankfully, the game manages to hit its stride a few hours in.

What starts as a quest for a missing cat takes players on a tour of South Park involving Catholic priests, strippers, ninjas, the elderly, and the constant threat of sixth graders. Its humor can at times be quantity over quality, as the poop jokes and callbacks never really die down. Despite that, there are numerous unexpected events, character appearances, and boss fights that I found funnier than most jokes I’ve seen in the show in recent seasons.

If you haven’t kept up with the show in recent years, not much has changed about the way South Park presents the world.

It still takes the hot button issues of the day and does its best to make them cartoonish and ridiculous. In 2017 terms, this means scenarios involving gender identity, political correctness, and racist cops, among others. Yet in casting their net wide, Parker and Stone never really dwell too long on any one issue or make any meaningful statements.

Rednecks in pickup trucks attack you after you state your sexual identity, and PC Principal takes great offense at microaggressions, teaching you how to physically retaliate against them in battle. One mission has you working for the cops and arresting a clearly unarmed black man while he’s on his exercise bike. Major issues are reflected in the game, but it doesn’t seem terribly interested in saying anything about them.

It feels like they wanted to check those boxes and get back to the superhero story, which, for better or for worse, is certainly a very South Park way of handling this kind of subject matter.

While the writing does occasionally acknowledge current events, much of the game’s heart and attention lies in the “kids being kids” framing. Red LEGO[6] bricks serve as lava that gates off areas. Moses is summoned by putting together an elbow macaroni art piece. Stan[7] heals allies with one of those mist fans that they sell at amusement parks.

Most items are crafted with components like glue, duct tape, empty sports drink bottles, and items from a taco stand. For a game with “butthole” in its title, there’s a surprising amount of wholesome charm to be found.

Token's ultimate attack grants him the use of a missile-firing mech.Token’s ultimate attack grants him the use of a missile-firing mech.

That concept was also present in The Stick of Truth’s combat, with its dodgeballs and suction cup arrows. In Fractured But Whole, your abilities and attacks are much more dramatic and are assumed to exist in the imaginations of its heroes and villains. Kyle[8] shoots lasers out of his eyes, Tweek[9] summons lightning and deadly icicles, and Token[10] inhabits a mech suit that fires missiles onto the battlefield.

If The Stick of Truth’s combat was Paper Mario[11] Lite, then this sequel is Fire Emblem[12] Lite.

Instead of simply firing attacks back and forth across an even playing field, the battles now play out on a grid. The size of the grid varies depending on the encounter, but your heroes can move freely in an effort to secure a strategic advantage. My usual party consisted of a couple of close-range fighters, one long-range attacker, and one healer.

Certain bosses took me out numerous times until I adapted to the demands of the fight. One destroyed me until I changed my party out for fighters that featured plenty of knockback attacks, which I used to shuffle enemies into position to take devastating environmental damage.

The new grid system dramatically improves the quality of the battles.The new grid system dramatically improves the quality of the battles.

This sequel is a step up in many ways from its predecessor, but combat is where it makes the most welcome improvements. The grid system allows for so much more variety in the game’s many fights, and it continues to evolve as the story moves forward.

Many of the major encounters had me taking a break during combat to assess the battlefield and move everyone into optimal positions. When I died, it was fun to sort through the list of available party members in an effort to assemble the best combination of abilities for the fight at hand.

Your character continues to add on abilities from numerous classes, which you can then swap in and out depending on what you want to bring into battle. Sometimes I’d outfit my hero with close-range melee attacks that deal high physical damage, while other situations were better met with long-range attacks that cause status effects.

A special ability called TimeFart allows you to do things like pause time and rack up a bunch of free hits on frozen opponents (as well as skipping the enemy’s turn). One of my most satisfying encounters involved inflicting confuse on a group of six elderly people, who then killed each other by lobbing colostomy bags like grenades.

Boss fights are some of the most clever and enjoyable parts of the game, and it’d be a disservice to reveal their nature here. Many of these introduce brand new elements to the combat system.

This is welcome because for all of the clever attacks and abilities, there really isn’t much in the way of input variance. Your attacks almost always require you to either press the attack button once, hit it a few times with good timing, or mash it mindlessly. On defense, all you do is press the button after receiving damage to recover HP and build your super meter.

Shuffling your character's abilities is easy.Shuffling your character’s abilities is easy.

Following the ridiculous path of the main story is the core of Fractured But Whole, but there is a handful of side activities and collectibles to keep you busy between missions.

It’s still set in the town of South Park, so most of the map’s changes revolve around things that have happened in the world of the show (SoDoSoPa towers over Kenny’s house, and Skeeter’s bar is now an upscale wine and cocktail lounge). As in the first game, almost every area features plenty of visual jokes and references to events from the show’s twenty-year history. One look at any of the kids’ bedroom closets yields a virtual museum of their moments from past episodes.

Plenty of areas around town are initially gated off by LEGO bricks, electric locks, and large gaps.

These can eventually be passed by adding specific allies to your party that can bypass them with unique abilities, all of which involve your character’s ass in some way. Your rewards for exploration are usually in the form of a new costume piece or artifact. The latter can be slotted into your character to raise their might level.

Similar to Destiny[13], story missions have a recommended level and this might system gives you a quick idea of how ready you are to take them on.

Depending on the situation, the allies you bring into battle can make all the difference.Depending on the situation, the allies you bring into battle can make all the difference.

Costumes and artifacts are plentiful, and there are more limited collectibles such as Big Gay Al[14]‘s lost cats and anime artwork that depicts Tweek and Craig’s relationship. There are also challenges tied to your follower level on Coonstagram, which you can increase by satisfying requirements for townsfolk and taking selfies with them. These requirements range from buying a demo CD from a bartender to giving a strip club DJ a cocktail of boogers and semen.

It’s not the deepest system in the world, feeling more like a fun scavenger hunt than a critical component of your progress.

My early hours in South Park: The Fractured But Whole had me bracing for disappointment. As the story progressed and the combat grew deeper, however, I realized that this sequel is an improvement on The Stick of Truth in just about every way. That game gave us our first novel experience of playing through a world that’s virtually indistinguishable from the show, but this sequel is longer, deeper, and more surprising throughout.

It may feel like a cavalcade of poop jokes and easy callbacks in the early hours, but the South Park humor and charm shines through more and more as the story progresses. True to the show, the storyline leading into the ridiculous conclusion of the game barely resembles the plot’s conceit. It twists and turns in extraordinarily stupid ways that are unexpected and simultaneously fully expected if you’re a longtime viewer.

If you’re in the mood for a unique, lighthearted RPG (and are at least somewhat receptive to South Park’s specific sense of humor) you’ll find more than enough to like here.

References

  1. ^ South Park (www.giantbomb.com)
  2. ^ The Stick of Truth (www.giantbomb.com)
  3. ^ Trey Parker (www.giantbomb.com)
  4. ^ Matt Stone (www.giantbomb.com)
  5. ^ Lemmiwinks (www.giantbomb.com)
  6. ^ LEGO (www.giantbomb.com)
  7. ^ Stan (www.giantbomb.com)
  8. ^ Kyle (www.giantbomb.com)
  9. ^ Tweek (www.giantbomb.com)
  10. ^ Token (www.giantbomb.com)
  11. ^ Paper Mario (www.giantbomb.com)
  12. ^ Fire Emblem (www.giantbomb.com)
  13. ^ Destiny (www.giantbomb.com)
  14. ^ Big Gay Al (www.giantbomb.com)

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