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EP3 Civic Type R: An owners review of this proper modern classic

Review updated by Jay Kay   21 February 2017 05:02 pm | Motoring

This is the car of my youth. And over ten years later I still have her sitting on my drive! Read on to find out why...

Score 5.0 / 5   RRP £6000.00

Pros: Good looks, great handling and great sounding high revving engine

Cons: No Limited Slip Differential


Engine: 1998cc

Cylinders: 4

Power: 197BHP @ 7,400RPM

Torque: 142lb ft @ 5,900RPM

Transmission: 6 speed manual

Acceleration: 6.4sec

Top Speed: 146mph

Fuel: 31mpg

CO2: 215g/km

Road Tax: K

Release Date: 2001-09-01

Verdict: Better than sex... Almost! Extra star for the memories

I have many fond memories of 2006... It was the year I graduated with Honours from the University of Derby, the year I slept with two of the girls from the UoD cheer leading squad. The year of test driving cars I couldn't possibly afford and the year I bought my 2nd EP3 Honda Civic Type R.

When I think back to that year, it seems all the greatest moments began when I bought this car. The media painted it as having a look which - although not particularly beautiful - was one which had purpose and a racing focus. I disagree with that because I always felt the car was beautiful. I'd often spend summer mornings in the garden, with a cup of tea gazing at her. I'm not the only one who appreciated her looks either.

Many a time I would pull into a petrol station, get people walk over to me in the forecourt and begin a long conversation about cars. One time I even got a scrap owner in his Bentley Arnage talking to me! Admittedly I complimented his Bentley first (with a private plate of "BOB") but he was quick to return the compliment with my car and we spent ages talking! Then there was the countless times I would go to pay for my fuel and the forecourt attendant would say "lovely car mate".

Several times I'd get the nod of approval from motorists at traffic lights too. One guy even started a full blown conversation with me at the lights while asking what power the car had! Another time me and a friend had a random mid night sprint in Mansfield with a 2005 Integra Type R, an R33 Nissan Skyline and a Peugeot 306 Rallye. We got talking to the Integra Type R owner after this.

Then there was the women... I had countless women tell me how gorgeous that car was. I can also confirm that a large number of those women ended up in the back seat as well...

The Mk7 Golf R is a great car; a brilliant car. But it doesnt do what the Type R did. With the Golf R, I have never had people approach me and give me the thumbs up. I'm still waiting for that bloke to walk across the forecourt and strike a conversation with me. I'm still waiting for the cheerleaders to climb into the back seat while telling me what a cool car I have, and not once have I seen any special cars filling up in the forecourt at the sametime as me like I did with the Type R.

I filled up at a Shell garage on the M1 in Derbyshire the otherday and all the forecourt attendant's were talking about was some beat up old VW camper van that had just rolled up behind my R! It's not to say the Golf R isn't a pretty thing because she is. But she certainly doesn't turn heads like the Type R did and I miss that.

Of course these aren't the only positives of the Type R. She has a very enjoyable, high revving, 2 litre 4 cylinder engine mated to a very slick 6 speed manual box! Back in those days, 6th gear was a dream gear for most of us. I remember sitting in my 52 plate 1.4 Honda Civic, two years earlier, pretending that reverse could in fact count as being gear 6! The gearbox is tough too. A couple of times on a fantastic but bouncy (in places) B road i down shifted from 3rd to 2nd momentarily only to have a less than pleasant mechanical grinding sound remind me that i'm shifting the wrong way!

It was understandable that I made those gear change errors, because i was doing a pretty quick 60MPH on a cracking B road. It's fitting then that at this point I discuss the ride and handling. The ride is firm, but not as firm as the new FK2 Type R. With the EP3 Type R, i've driven long drives from London to Leeds, from Nottingham to Blackpool and even from Mansfield to North Yorkshire. And in all those times on those long journeys, I enjoyed the drive as did my passengers. Of course im talking about long drives in my Premier edition which came with very comfy red recaro's. The original EP3 Type R seats basically werent very comfortable at all and so would raise a complaint.

The standard suspension I always found to be pleasant and more than capable of dealing with every day pot hole filled English roads. It is slightly firmer than the MK7 Golf R's suspension setup (in normal driving mode). This can be confirmed with a yank on the steering wheel in the Golf R at low speeds, where there is a little bit of body roll. Doing the same in the EP3 Type R shows a lot less body roll.

The main criticism from the media of the EP3 Type R chassis was the lack of road surface feedback. I always felt this was a bit of a pointless one to make, because although the Type R is a "track focused" hot hatch, how many regular drivers are going to need undiluted road feedback via the steering wheel?? On everyday roads, you wont be doing time trails on twisty roads where the need for road surface feedback exists. So this criticism from where I sit isn't even an issue. Admittedly it might steal some of the fun from a B road sprint, but that is more than catered for elsewhere.

Getting back to the engine, it is high revving because its naturally aspirated. There is no turbo and this is a very good thing, even if it does destroy rain forests by the hectare on a RPM basis and produce almost as much CO2's as a power station! Then there's the fact that it produces 197BHP at 7,400 RPM which means you have to work for that sweet spot... My best friends dad once asked me "what do you think to the Type R" and I told him without hesitation that it was better than sex. Of course that isn't true, nothing is better than sex but driving this car is as rewarding and exhilarating when you put the effort in.

Then there is the exhaust note when rolling off the accelerator! Its like a gurgle and it is popular with the ladies as well. My girlfriend at the time actually said "how do you make the car do that sound?!" Which brings me to the next plus point - the lack of refinement! It can get pretty loud in there and that can be a very good thing. When overtaking and you're in the redline, easing off the gas to achieve the gurgle, the engine noise, its fantastic!

Of course, lack of refinement is a double edged sword. On motorway journeys its a bit too loud in there. Admittedly its bearable if you're used to it and don't know any better, but certainly after being in the Golf R (which admittedly isn't the most refined car in the world) it is a bit much! The tyre noise does get on your nerves a bit and I now suffer with a bit of tinnitus. I often used to put this down to loud music and partying, but, after being in a German car I actually think it could be the Type R's fault!

I don't care though. The more I think about the Type R the more I realise that she gave me far more than just Tinnitus. So much so that I might get her back on the road for some more high revving fun!

So its 4 stars for fun and an extra star for the memories!