the Garage


– DC

ON ITS SLEEVE Putting the Type R’s lap times into perspective



1998cc tu rbo in in -4, FWD, 228kW/400N m, 1380kg, $51,990




THE HONDA CIVIC Type R is as fast as it looks. With its steroidal wheel arches, fat stance, mess of ducts and vents and that shamelessly huge rear wing, it makes a statement of its ability – a true one.

Yet again, we were reminded of its blistering speed at Winton Motor Raceway, the scene of two of the Type R’s recent glories, those being partly where it earned its 2018 MOTOR Performance Car of the Year title but more recently, where it beat all-comers at 2018 Bang For Your Bucks.

This time, the Type R was on workhorse duty, supporting other shoots we had at Winton that day. But, as ever, we weren’t going to miss an opportunity for a few quick laps around the track in this fantastic car.

THE UPDATE Loving it. Getting used to a few interior quirks. Styling is looking less ugly every time we look at it. Went a week without driving it. Missed it.

Full disclosure, this is not a full-blown track test update – that will come later. We wanted instead to dive into the MOTOR vault to really put into perspective how quick this car is. For a start, its 1:35.9sec lap around Winton, in the hands of our tame racing driver Warren Luff, is interestingly the same time, to the tenth, as the Ford Focus RS Limited Edition. That’s despite its higher outputs, excellent all-wheel drive system and, critically, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.

To try to explain that solely by the 200kg weight difference would undersell the Type R’s abilities. The mid-corner grip it extracts from its 235/30 R20 Continental SportContact 6 tyres is incredible, and we salivate at the thought of trying this car on Michelin Cup 2 rubber, which is what it was wearing for its front-drive Nurburgring record lap. Perhaps we’ll get a chance in the coming months.

By our calculations, based on some credible data, the Type R could dip below the 1:34sec mark with the trick Cup 2 tyres. Even sub-1:35 would be staggeringly fast for a front-drive car.

To give some perspective, at Performance Car of the Year 2007 the 997 Porsche 911 GT3 did a 1:34.2sec lap, Luffy driving. True, if you put modern tyres on it, it would doubtless wipe seconds off that time, not to mention Winton’s been resurfaced since then, yet on period-correct rubber, and the Type R on Cup 2s, it’s possible the Honda hot hatch would be faster.

It’s also curious to consider the times the E-Series HSV Maloo set at PCOTY that year. In 2007 this was a thumping 6.0-litre V8-powered ute and its 0-400m time was 13.85sec – about the same as a Civic Type R. Not to embarrass the big, old Maloo, which then and now made no claim at being a scintillating lap time machine, but the Civic Type R would make mincemeat of it around Winton, the Maloo’s lap time 1:42.06sec. In fact it would take less than 15 laps for the Type R to catch it, perhaps fewer as the Maloo’s brakes would have given up long before then.

(It’s also probable that in 10 years we’ll be laughing at how slow the Type R looks against the latest Janome autonomous pod. But forget that, this is now, and for $52K the Type R is seriously quick.)

As for our two months so far in the Type R away from the circuit, we are loving it, which may not surprise given we just gave it our biggest accolades one apiece. But us liking it was never guaranteed and it’s not all been smooth sailing. We keep closing our eyes and hoping a volume knob would magically appear on the stereo so we don’t have to keep madly tapping the infotainment screen. The Type R is, oddly, a fourseat car. In Australia, if you imagine a Type R-driving deso on a night out, this is as likely to place a loose projectile of a human into the back seat, with a clear passage to the windscreen, as it is to force a rethink of the transport plan.

It irritates us that you can’t combine Comfort dampers and Sport engine.

In Comfort mode, the engine has had a few too many sakes, meaning when gaps in traffic open, you gun for them like Will Smith gunned for the exit of the alien mothership in Independence Day. Except unlike Big Willy, sometimes you don’t quite make it.

There are more gripes, but we will save them for future updates for fear of running out of things to complain about. Seriously. Next month, though, we talk styling – hold on tight.

– DC



1. It’s just a little joy

2. Rides really well

3. Keyless entry


1. Average stereo

2. Can be a bit ‘tinny’

3. No seat heaters...


Checking out the i30 N’ nuts and bolts

1998cc turbo inline-4, FWD, 202kW/353Nm, 1429kg, $39,990

HYUNDAI AUSTRALIA loves the i30 N. Of course, I’ m sure it loves every car in its range (maybe…), but behind the scenes plenty at Hundee Oz are particularly excited to have a proper performance product in its range to promote and sell. It wants to foster a community of N owners, setting up a number of N Performance’ social media accounts to inform current and potential owners about every facet of Hyundai’ first true hot hatch.

As part of this, workshops were recently held in Melbourne and Sydney, with technician Geoff Fear giving a presentation and taking questions. Thankfully, instead of a projector and Powerpoint there was an i30 N on a hoist and a number of disassembled N parts littered around to have a closer look at. Of course, as an i30 N owner’ had to head along, eager to learn more.

It turns out there is no such thing as a typical i30 N owner, customers ranging from young hot hatch fans to pension-age enthusiasts keen on one last performance car. Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few questions about tuning the i30 N, deftly batted away by the Hyundai crew, but refreshingly the bold addition of a track warranty had many punters intrigued and keen to head onto the speedy side of pit wall.

As one of the i30’ biggest markets, Australia had a bigger say in the development of the N than you might expect. So big, in fact, that local cars have not just a bespoke suspension tune, but unique dampers. For this you can thank Australia’ crappy roads and our habit of driving over them at 100km/h regardless. Even in Normal mode, overseas Ns are set up quite stiff, Albert Biermann’ logic being that he wanted the car to feel instantly responsive, even on a short test drive.

Trouble is, in Australia that responsiveness would likely translate into a sore bum in Normal and loosen fillings if you strayed into Sport Plus. An Aussie-spec tune wasn’ an easy sell. It took Hyundai’ local engineers to drive Biermann around on a local visit to convince him the car needed to be softer to work on our roads. Eventually, pothole after pothole had the boss onside: all Ns use the same springs and swaybars, but Aussie cars score different, softer damper internals, the extra compliance not only making the car more comfortable but improving its pace on country roads, too. The job isn’ done yet – the goal is to go even softer. Don’ be surprised if the forthcoming i30 N Fastback has a little softer ride and likes a bit of tail-out attitude in the corners.

Other little nuggets of information: in Normal the exhaust operates only through the passenger-side tip; selecting Sport bypasses the muffler and uses the driver’ tip while also adjusting cam timing and injecting extra fuel to spark those signature pops and crackles. According to Fear, one engineer spent two years just working on the overrun theatrics. In addition, if you’ re going to change wheels, ensure the offset is identical to stock, otherwise you’ alter the scrub radius (where the tyre contacts the tarmac). The i30 N is set up so the dead centre of the tyre is the contact patch; change the offset and you’ affect this, changing your handling and tyre wear for the worse.

Use this month has effectively been adding some kilometres to the car before really stretching its legs – probably unnecessary, but old habits die hard. In day-to-day use I think the Hyundai Australia chassis folk are spot-on, it could use a little more ride compliance. It’ an excellent compromise – if the car had passive dampers it would be about spot-on – but given the i30 N’ adaptive set-up, why not slacken off Normal more to accept the worst bumps and lumps? If you need the extra body control, that’ why Sport exists.

The turning circle is annoyingly large; at 11.6m it’ a metre larger than the regular i30, which it seems is just enough to make the difference between a successful u-turn and a three-point effort. Probably the biggest annoyance currently is the gearbox. The shift is very notchy and sometimes baulks on the 5-6 change. It may be a cold oil issue, further investigation is needed, but getting back into the N after a day or two in a new manual Mustang, it’ the muscle car that has the superior gearchange. Stalling is also very easy, which is just bad driving, but some cars flatter you more than others.

That’ virtually it for the bad stuff – this is a very easy car to live with.

That said, I already know if it were my money I’ be speccing the Luxury Pack, if only for the smart key and pushbutton start. Keyless entry makes life so much easier when you have arms full of shopping, etc. For $3000, it also adds heated front seats and steering wheel, powered front seats with suede inserts and leather bolsters, front park assist and more – seems good value.

– SN



1. Grunty engine

2. Seat comfort

3. Apple CarPlay


1. Shift quality

2. Turning circle

3. Stalling a lot