WINNER HONDA CIVIC TYPER

0-100KM/H: 5.81SEC (7TH)

BY LOUS CORDONY

0-400M: 13.79SEC @ 173.12KM/H (7TH)

LAP TIME: 1:35.90SEC (=1ST)

PRICE: $51,990

BANG INDEX: 195.7

BUCKS INDEX: 96.6

BFYB INDEX: 151.1

CATEGORY KINGS

And if we split the fi eld in two?

Honda Civic Type Rís 2018 Performance Car of the was announced, our inboxes clogged with enough emotion-charged emails that month to almost crash our web Some people offered a congratulatory comment, or ambivalent one, but many were so disbelieving a front- car could beat everything from a Porsche to an reasoned it was only because it arrived with gold hiding in its boot. those doubters should be stuffing themselves with right now. The Civic Type R has just become the this magazineís history to win our two biggest back-to-back, confirming Hondaís hero has the performance to thump all-comers at an event completely based on cold, hard and transparent data. dominated the braking discipline, showed ferocious pace racetrack, and excelled on the drag strip where a drive car usually has no right to. And before you conspiracy drum again about its clean sweep atop the judgesí rankings, its price and performance data was so convincing on the spreadsheet, each judge would have had to place the Civic eighth or lower to dethrone it from top spot. And thatís a situation weíd find truly unbelievable.

The Civic Type R is so bewitching to drive on road or track that itíd convince anyone that the Type R brand is back Ė better than ever. From the way it grasps you in its G-force-proof front seats, or how the gearshift is almost level with yours hands on the steering wheel, there are classic Type R cues strewn throughout it. The digital cluster thrusts an arc-shaped rev gauge into view like an S2000, while the gear knobís cool titanium touch honours the original Integra Type R or NSX-R.

What the new Civic Type R brings to the table, besides a long-awaited return to form, is a new approach to brilliance. That turbocharger lurking under its bonnet means thereís no more frenetic redline-chasing drama or explosion of noise as VTEC bumps its camshafts onto its big lobes.

The slightly oversquare engine still likes to spin and uses variable valve lift, but it now surges to redline from earlier in the rev range. Itís smoother than the other turbo four cylinders here and delivers a better top-end, too, feeling threatened only by the Focus RSís 2.3-litre for torque.

HONDAíS HERO HAS THE PERFORMANCE TO THUMP ALL AT AN EVENT BASED ON COLD, HARD DATA

Lack of all-wheel drive traction means the Civic lags behind others from a standing start. Thereís a fair chunk of wheel spin through first gear and the carís shortly stacked six-speed ratios, separated by BFYB 2018ís slickest and most satisfying shift (although not as buttery as Hondaís greatest), means youíll need to nudge into third at 99km/h, penalising its 0-100km/h time. However, itís still leagues ahead of anything else front-drive and once on a roll itíll decimate its all-wheel drive rivals, proving Honda knew what it was doing by selecting a lighter, simpler front-drive layout.

Where the Civic Type R shines brighter is in the braking zone. Its relatively humble steel brakes are tremendous, arresting it from 100km/h in 32.95m and with so much bite, stop after stop, youíd swear Honda had snuck big-dollar carbon ceramics into its wheel guards.

The Honda continues to wage war in the dataís average cornering speeds. The 370Z Nismo might have pipped it in first place by an antís footprint, but when you realise the Nissan presses 80mm more tyre width into the road under a more inherently balanced rear-drive layout, the 0.01km/h gap dividing them fades into a moral victory for the Civic Type R.

Itís all thanks to some serious engineering underneath. Like that helical LSD bolted between dual-axis front struts, bridged by a stiffer bodyshell to revised rear-suspension arms. Grippy 245mm-wide Continentals are the last touch, unlocking brilliant drive, neutrality, and precision for a front-driver with this much power. People were spending so long out on track, smashing the brakes harder and leaning into its wall of grip with more commitment as the laps went on, we almost needed a crowbar to pry them from the driverís seat.

It packs varying levels of ESP intervention in its drive modes, including full off, and the switchable rev-match is doofusproof. If the Type R was a politician it would transform into Barack Obama Ė unflappable, infectious, approachable by novices and professionals alike.

In Luffyís hands the Civic slices Winton Raceway in 1min 35.9sec, the fastest lap time on the day and comfortably burying previous efforts in any production front-drive car.

To share that time with the Ford Focus RS LE might sour its achievement a little, but consolation lies in the fact the Fordís tyres could satisfy a GT3 carís grip requirements.

Itís not all roses, though, as a few chinks lurk in its armour. Honda hasnít aced the electric steering, which can be a touch vague just off-centre, Luffy sniffed out some wheelspin in tight corners, and that engine could use some singing lessons under the Hyundai i30 Nís tutelage. Most of its engine noise is muffled by the gases rushing through the turbocharger. Also, its looks, and interior, are sure to fuel a lot of arguments at your local pub.

IT SLICES WINTON RACEWAY IN 1:35.9, BURYING PREVIOUS EFFORTS OF ANY FRONT-DRIVE CAR

But letís not lose sight of the bigger picture. While an Infiniti Q50 Red Sportís blistering speed is bolstered by crappy brakes, or a Toyota 86ís crisp steering is contrasted by little grip, the Honda Civic Type Rís elements complement each other, and thatís why it logs the second highest lap V-max Ė even though itís far from being the second most powerful car. The BFYB formula favours the Hondaís performance figures so much that you would have to heap another $13K on the Civic Type Rís $51,990 price tag to knock it down to second place.

Itís this all-round brilliance that injects the Honda not only into an elite BFYB winnerís circle, but lifts it into another echelon of fame altogether. Only Nissan and BMW have bagged both PCOTY and BFYB before, yet needed multiple years and variants (an S14 200SX/S15 200SX and E36 328i/ E36 M3) to achieve the feat, leaving the Honda Civic Type R as the force behind the most dominant award season in MOTOR history. All hail our scorching-hot BFYB king.

JUDGESí COMMENTS

1ST WARREN LUFF

ďThe Civic Type R is really fun to drive on the limit. Itís very neutral in its chassis balance and itís only once you come out of the tight corners in second gear that you actually realise itís front-wheel drive because you do get a little bit of wheel spin. Overall itís a confidenceinspiring car for the driver as it does everything so well. Thereís excellent front-end grip with great driver comfort and feedback. All in all itís definitely worthy of the Type R name tag.Ē

1ST DAVID MORLEY

ďStill my favourite frontdriver ever.Ē

1ST DYLAN CAMPBELL

ďDrive it as hard as you can. It shouldnít be as good as it isĒ

1ST LOUIS CORDONY

ďInstant hot-hatch royalty that doesnít cost a kingdomĒ

1ST SCOTT NEWMAN

ďA hero. Just does everything you want it to.Ē