WORSHIPPING THE DEPRECIATION GODS
WHILE THE SPECIALIST press rounded on the FN2 Civic Type R for undermining the previous EP3 version, it was more sinned against than sinning. In GT form, it was more luxurious and practical than any other Civic Type R, but the Australian car’s rear suspension downgrade to a torsion bar rankled when the Japanese market Type R (FD2) sedans retained double wishbones. Three colours were offered locally – red, white and black – with red being the most popular ahead of black. Production ended in 2011, just before Euro 5 emissions standards arrived.
CIVIC TYPE R
ENGINE Retained from the EP3, the FN2’s twin-camshaft 2.0-litre K20A engine with variable inlet timing is, in the words of specialists who would know, “basically bulletproof”. Make sure timing chain intervals have been adhered to, though.
Honda set the K20A’s VTEC transition (from one camshaft profile to another) lower down the rev range for the FN2 to make overtaking slightly more relaxed. Still, valve clearances need to be checked every other service. People don’t check them, and engines way out of adjustment can clatter if abused enough, specialists are likely to advise.
Oil is another key item. VTEC engines love using the black stuff, and K20As are no exception. Use fully synthetic 5W/40 every 20,000 kilometres and you should be fine. That, and spark plugs. As the cars are getting cheaper, cars are more likely to be driven by less doting owners who don’t change plugs, which really dents the performance.
Any creaks from the subframe normally come from the bolts holding it in: removing, greasing and refitting them will help to quell the racket.
GEARBOX The FN2’s six-speeder manual – the only gearbox offered in Australia – hasn’t shown many signs of frailty yet, even running silly power. Modified examples have run up to 370kW without drama. That said, rough owners can wear out the synchro on third. If the car had a full Honda main agentservice history, Honda sometimes entertained a rebuild on the house.
Full-bore standing starts can wear out clutches prematurely, and it’s crucial that replacements are fitted correctly, otherwise juddering can result. Creaking release bearings aren’t uncommon: biting points can be adjusted.
A regular service should cost no more than $200 for a standard car, but a bigger 40K service will be around $600-$900
An annual service generally keeps the cars in good order, with major services when necessary, and check valve clearances every other service
Common faults include high oil use, premature clutch wear, leaking front struts, fading paint (red), brittle trim
High horsepower – some 190kW – driving through the front wheels made for quick but challenging motoring. The 2.3-litre turbo-four mated to a six-speed manual was mounted in a five-door body. Used prices are similar to the Type R.
A similarly small three-door hatch with a high-revving atmo 2.0-litre engine (developing 145kW and 215Nm) and a six-speed manual when it was launched in Australia in 2007. Rare to find, and prone to have problems.
Fifth-gen GTI that lobbed here in 2005 and ran until 2010 was a tough-looking car in either three-door or five-door form. The 2.0-litre turbo four drove through a six-speed manual or DSG auto and produced 147kW/280Nm; $7K-plus for a good one.
SUSPENSION Two issues to bear in mind here – leaking front struts and hardening top mounts. The latter is only really a problem on higher-mileage cars. Otherwise, the FN2 fares pretty well. Bushes will wear out periodically, and there’s a Superpro kit that will last longer.
Many owners replace the standard suspension – which was criticised in period for riding too harshly – with a progressive Eibach kit that lowers the car by 15mm. Together with adjustable front camber bolts, neither should put you off if you find a car so equipped. Many specialists recommend the Eibach kit as a low-level modification.
BODY & STRUCTURE A mixed bag here. The FN2 Type R paint is notoriously soft around the bonnet and bumper splitter, and the Milano Red cars often turn pink.
Honda dealt with lots of FN2s for surface rust where the top windscreen and door seals rubbed paint off the metal, though this was probably more of a problem in damp climates; check the service history to see if any work has been done.
Those massive headlamp lenses can go milky, but that’s an easy fix with polishing compound. The relative youth of the FN2 means their undersides are generally better than with EP3s, but a rust inhibitor session might be worthwhile if you’re planning on keeping your FN2 for a while.
BRAKES AND STEERING Discs were sizeable 300mm ventilated units at the front and 260mm solids at the rear, with standard ABS. For standard use, the factory discs and pads don’t wear out quickly unless you’re very rough. Seized calipers are not uncommon. Hard drivers on and off the track sometimes find the standard pads a little soft, so we recommend EBC and Ferodo upgrades.
INTERIOR & TRIM Bits of trim can break off, especially drawers and cupholders. Scratchy, squeaking plastic is normal, so don’t let that put you off a potential purchase. Driver’s seat bolsters can also wear, particularly if the previous owner dodged a few too many salads.
The local car was well equipped, with dual-zone climate control, fog lights, cruise control, electric mirrors and a refrigerated glovebox – so check it all works.
Owners’ forums report occasional issues with the folding mirrors, and a batch of starter buttons needing two goes to fire the engine up. Many owners found the standard sound system a bit weak and installed sub-woofers and beefier speakers to suit, so make sure it’s been done properly.
IMPROVING THE BREED Like its EP3 and EK9 predecessors, the Civic Type R FN2 was warmly embraced by the aftermarket. Anything from a fast road daily driver to a 400kW Time Attack terror is within reach if your wallet can take the heat.
You can make up for the FN2’s 60kg weight penalty over the EP3 by having the K20A engine remapped, liberating an extra 15-25kW, or add traction control, though the standard car already has switchable ESC. Supercharger and turbo kits will happily fill the VTEC engine’s low-down grunt gap and produce as much as 350kW for up to $10,000 fitted.
Suspension-wise, we recommend an Eibach package for fast road use, which costs about $1200 and smooths out the harsh ride. If you want to go further, a Tein Electronic Damping Force Controller Active Pro kit with adaptive dampers (about $1500) apparently transforms the car, turning it from an older car into a modern one, with options from comfort to sport at the touch of a button.