The all new Civic FK8 Type R

The new FK8-R has been the talked of the town with its 310,000 price tag and I really don’t understand why people wants to make so much noise; its a free market, if you want to buy it, by all means otherwise, just go find another car to buy, right? Anyway, as I said it earlier, I quote my friend “if you can afford it, its not expensive!”

Coming back to topic proper, a buddy of mine owns a FK8R and we spoke about each others experience and decided to do a swap for a few days. I was actually hesitant to pen this down, knowing that if I said anything negative, it would spark an infinite debate between Volkswagen and Honda fans.

As usual, my opinions are solely mine and not representative of anyone or the club’s view and I mean no offense to anyone, if you believe my opinion is bias, please do not continue reading….. then again, I have a lot of good things to say about the FK8R.

Long before I had the MK5 GTI, my brother did loan me his Honda Integra DC2 Type R for daily use, for about 2 weeks. For that period, I braved KL traffic – my office is at KLCC area and I drove to work everyday and often waited till 10pm before I go home so I can let loose the VTEC. I loved the B18C, heck, everyone loves it; I even get stopped by patrol cars because they wanted to know if its an original B18C.

Since then, I wanted to placed a deposit for the Honda DC5 Type R but after test drive, it was no B18C. In fact, the K20A engine is much more refine – not that I have any issue for it, but the “VTEC kick-in yo” was missing. I chance upon a pre-reg Volkswagen MK5 GTI and I never looked back despite both my brothers are huge fans of BMW and Honda. Anyway, here are my thoughts on the FK8R.

Exterior of the FK8R
I don’t really fancy the design initially but its growing on me. I am not sure why they put a 20″ size as a standard set of wheels. The offset is a bit “high” hence the wheels sits further into the fender; its like skipping leg days for gym but I reckon a 10mm spacer will make the car look better. Well, to each its own, its just my personal preference. Having 20″ wheels in Malaysia can be a pain in the butt though but surprising the ride wasn’t that harsh.

I like the spoiler and the whole works, really gives me the boy racer feel.

Interior
Not much comment here, but if you are coming from a continental car, you probably wouldn’t be too enthusiastic about the interior, otherwise, its a big difference from the older type R. An interior that doesn’t creaks – ok fine, its a new car and it shouldn’t have crickets.

I personally think its much more refine than earlier version and it somehow gives me a premium feel honestly, but I find it difficult to remove that mindset that I am in a Type R, the legend of Honda that prowls in local racing circuit ready to rip apart the wannabe continental racer boys and while all that is taking place, you are listening a relaxing jazz on the stereo. A very mixed feeling in short but I loved the bucket seat though.

Performance
This FK8R is no match on a straight line to any properly tuned Golf GTI/R – I must stress “properly” but of course on a stock to stock comparison, an FK8R will have the advantage given that its already boosting 1.4-1.6 bar which should put close to 300hp on our local dyno.

I have measured the 1/4 mile time using Performance (Pbox) and the FK8R will nick a 14ish time whereas my Golf 7R will clock under 12s. I have also point out that, I sucked at launching the FK8R, not to mention that my rusty manual gear shifting didn’t help much either and my Golf R  has 100hp more than the FK8R so its not really a good benchmark.

I felt that the delivery power from the FK8R is surprisingly late, as opposed to the usual 2800rpm full boost on example, the MK6/MK7 GTI. However, the power is very linear, not abrupt which makes the ride smoother, less wheel spin, more power to the higher rpm but its missing the “VTEC Kick-In Yo”. I did try the R plus mode  which does make a huge difference compared to the default Sport Mode but to be honest,

I am not thrilled with the power. it could be better at 1.4-1.6 bar boost but maybe because its RON 95 compliant and thus, its potential is limited.

Handling Performance and Brakes

This is where I feel the FK8R shines, even my Golf R is no match, not even Quattro on the TT-S MK3 feels this good in corners. The feedback from the steering is good, very responsive and eager to go faster.

I never did get to drive it inside the circuit, but the owner clocked 2.38s in Sepang with its current setup, stock tyres, stock everything which is super impressive. Sure, its not as fast as the veedubs on the straight, but its making up time in the corners.

I have never seen a veedub capable of clocking under 2.40s in stock mode, Golf R/GTI, whatever. Of course I stand to be corrected, and if anything, MK7 GTI Club Sport or Club Sport S which is the nearest Nurburgring challenger to the FK8R should be the best mark.

The brakes are solid performer, you wouldn’t expect anything less from brembo but I have to say, it squeals but don’t wet your panties yet, all performance brake kits squeals, sooner or later. I like the braking bias, unlike those upgrade ones and most importantly, the car is not nose diving.

If I were to buy the FK8R, i will never tune this car, because the chassis setup is just perfect for its power, no understeering like the GTI and its very comfortable as well; I almost forgot that its Type R. The balance is achieved and tuning the car may disrupt the entire setup, not to mention more issues to crop up.

Heat and Other issues
Heat is always an issue with turbo charged vehicles; in fact, Honda enthusiasts (at least my friends) poked Veedubs for their poor performance in circuit due to high oil temperature. Well, we would like to welcome FK8R to join the club. LOL

Yes, the FK8R has heating issues but I didn’t had that problem, because I didn’t drive it like I stole it for simple reason, that the car doesn’t belong to me. The owner himself has confessed that he has experienced rising water temp up to 124 degrees after one hot lap in Sepang, sounds familiar? LOL, yes veedubs owner now can rejoice that we are no longer the community of track goers that can’t do more than 2 hot laps – no offense Honda fan boys.

What is more surprising is, the car hitting 124 degrees on a hard drive up to Genting via Ulu Yam. I am totally shocked! On a stock form, overheating? So the question is, what is the oil temperature? We don’t know. The FK8R does not have oil temperature reading – the FK2R does though but on the Golf R/GTI, if your water temp hits 124 degrees, your oil temp is no less than 130 degrees and at the limit of 138 degrees (before you hit limp mode), you will noticed the water temp gauge rising above the 100 degrees mark.

I have read online some issues with the transmission on the FK8R, I never noticed any problem with the clutch. In fact, I love the transmission. The clutch is so light, driving is so pleasurable. Gone are those days, driving manual in the city is dreadful and I actually don’t mind going into the city.

Overall experience
I love the FK8R for the weekend, never mind that it overheats or slower than all the tuned veedubs that I had, the handling just supersedes them all. If you are looking for a fast straight line car, you will be disappointed but if you love driving b-roads, this car will light you up.

I had a lot of fun driving it up to Genting and I didn’t have any overheating issues. Maybe its an isolated issue, maybe only happen to certain driver (LOL) and it didn’t happen to me.

I get a lot of questions about whether I would pick this over the Golf R for my daily. Frankly, its hard to part with 310,000 for this car with so many options available. If you are a Honda fans, sure why not, the FK8R gives you entry to the new premium world and still maintain the “real men drives three pedals”, so much feedback from the steering compared to a “muted” veedub steering and how this car is like “this is how they should make car like they used to”. Its really an all rounder even with the manual transmission.

I can’t afford 310,000 but given that I could, I would get a FK8R. I am saying this because I have a Golf R which fulfills my need for speed on the straight line. Its definitely has the exclusiveness in its own segment and it has all the space for a family and the ride has improved so much from is previous generation. You don’t get any reverse sensors and cameras but who cares.

To be honest, the comparison thus far is based on all the tuned cars that I have had the opportunity to own/experience but I personally felt that this is a benchmark error. In fact, the correct benchmark should be Clubsport GTI which we are unlikely to see in Malaysia. What I am looking forward though, is the launch of MK7.5R which is rumoured to be around 300k mark as well and how it pans out against the FK8R.

I have a feeling the new Golf R may disappoint me, given that I am already Golf R owner and I love my ride.