Honda Civic Type R: ‘A monster disguised as a family hatch’
Top speed: 169mph
0-62mph: 5.8 seconds
Vehicles are created to perform specific jobs. It is our right, of course, to use them however the hell we like. Thus capable offroaders get to paw the tarmac in Chelsea; sun-seeking soft tops battle the elements in Wales; and flimsy city cars embark on heroic expeditions. This Honda Civic Type R has been designed to go stomach-flippingly fast… so I used it to drive my 85-year-old mother-in-law to her surprise birthday lunch. She thought it was, “Yes, quite nice.” But she struggled to get in and out of the 8in deep bucket seats.
The Type R is to hot hatches what Stephen King is to safety manuals. It’s a vicious monster thinly disguised as a four-door family hatch. From a distance it looks like a ferocious samurai warlord, but up close it seems to have more in common with a giant cycling helmet. Every panel bulges with air intakes; the plastic skirts and carbon valences hover inches from the ground, and the huge rear wing seems to have sprouted mini wings. It has three exhaust pipes for heaven’s sake. It’s as if this Honda has dressed up as its favourite superhero character.
And it’s not just a showboater, either. Earlier this year the pro racing driver Christian Menzel took it to the Nordschleife at the infamous Nürburgring in Germany, and calmly clocked the fastest-ever time for a front-wheel car round the 154 turns of the 12.3-mile circuit. You can enjoy a back-seat view of his 7:43 minute lap by watching footage from his onboard camera. It’s astonishing, and quite sickening, especially if you keep an eye on his G-Force monitor.
This latest Civic celebrates 25 years of the Type R. It’s longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, and it’s even more powerful. In case it fails to scratch that itch you can crank up the driving dynamics. There are three settings to choose from: Comfort; Sport, and +R. Your selection maps pre-set changes on to the damper valves, steering weight, throttle response, stability and traction control. I love that fact that “Sport” is the default setting, but it’s the Comfort setting that saves the day. On our knackered British roads the old Type R could shake the fillings from your teeth. This one is a pleasure to drive even on longer journeys. The effervescent performance from the 316bhp 2-litre 4-cylinder turbo engine isn’t so much breathtaking as a flying dropkick to the ribs. It has a top speed of 169mph and will hit 0-62mph in under 6 seconds. The handling is compulsive. You find yourself yearning for fast back-to-back bends. In fact, even swinging through a roundabout is a pleasure.
The twist in the tale for the Type R has always been that despite its superhero antics, it’s still such a usable car. It’s the ultimate weekday workhorse and weekend warrior. It’s spacious inside and has a big boot. Annoyingly, despite the fact there is room for three in the back, it is only fitted with two rear seatbelts. Up front the cabin is an exuberant mishmash of carbon surfaces and shiny plastics, and bright-red racing seats. The gear stick is topped with an aluminium ball that fits perfectly into your palm. . The digital interface looks like a refugee from the 90s – overly large type and tiny buttons make it tricky to use and decipher. It amazes me how many cars get this wrong. We are all now screen savvy. Anyone with a smartphone will expect better. On the other hand, in this car you’ll only have eyes for the road ahead.
#BEAUTIFULWONTBETAMED: Rankin and Aston Martin
The new Aston Martin Vantage made its global debut this week with a unique portfolio of imagery and film by Rankin, one of the most influential photographers of our generation. Together Aston Martin and Rankin put you on the edge of your seats with their extraordinary showcase of fearsome animals, the human species and of course the car. The film gives a real insight into just how powerful the car is. The Vantage is the second new car to be born from the company’s 2nd Century Plan and is the most overtly sports-focused model in the range. Striking to the eye with its defined bold new look, intensified performance and dynamics, who wouldn’t want to get their hands on this one.I attach the release, stills and film for you below and the credits.
Vehicle write-offs: the unanswered questions, by Dean Adams
In light of the insurance industry’s changes to the categorisation of vehicle write-offs as of 1 October 2017, it’s still left many motorists with unanswered questions. Is it safe to buy a write-off? Can I find out what the damage is if I want to buy a categorised car? Message forums and boards are full of questions asking just this, and now drivers are asking for some clarity in the answers.
Scrapcarcomparison, the only UK comparison site giving you the best prices for scrap and damaged vehicles, says homework is needed on purchasing a write-off. “It’s amazing how many people don’t do their homework when faced with a ‘good deal’,” says a spokesperson site. A deal may look good on the outside, but you need to do your background checks. Category cars can be good value for money providing you take your time and go through the proper procedures so that you know the vehicle’s history.”
The new recent changes to the insurance categories are designed to make things clearer for all. The write-offs were previously put into four categories: A, B, C and D. Category A is the most severe level for irreparable damage whilst Category D is for vehicles that could be returned back to the road. The new system replaces C and D with the new categories of S and N, now giving the new structure of write-offs as follows:
A – Scrap only
B – Break for parts
S – Structurally damaged but repairable
N – Not structurally damaged, repairable
Scrapcarcomparison has picked up on some of the unanswered questions posed by motorists:
Q: Is it the buyer’s responsibility to check or the seller’s responsibility to inform the buyer if a car is categorized?
A: There’s a law there for trade, but not for private sellers. Trade sellers must legally declare before sale that the vehicle has a category marker against it. However, if you buy the car privately, the seller does not have to declare this unless asked the question by the buyer. They may have already done an HPI check prior to viewing. If you don’t advertise it correctly, you give the buyer the opportunity to reject goods, so it pays to be honest.
Q: What is the point of giving a car a category if there is no detailed information on what caused it to be in a category in the first place? How can I find out about the damage?
A: While you can find out what category the vehicle has been given, there is a black hole in terms of UK laws as there is no database recording the reasons as to why the car was categorised. Unfortunately, you have no lawful entitlement to any information, but you could write to the previous insurance company to ask for the information. They do not have to disclose it, but your only other option is to ask the previous owner(s). It is advised you get a thorough, detailed inspection undertaken before you buy a categorised vehicle. Organisations such as the AA, RAC or a respected well-trained mechanic can inspect the car to look into its condition and whether there are any problems lurking.
Q: Should I buy an insurance write-off?
A: Going down this route could save you a lot of money in the short term – if you do it properly. Providing you are 100% happy with the car’s history this could be a good option. The downside is that when the time comes for you to sell the car’s resale value will be less, and you could pay higher insurance premiums – if you can find an insurance company who will give you a policy.
Q: Do I have to tell my insurance company my car is categorised?
A: The law only requires you to answer any questions asking about specific information and as a consumer you have no obligation whatsoever to second guess information they have not requested. The onus is totally on the insurer to ask a question. Not declaring a material fact you have not been specifically asked about shouldn’t affect your policy. However, we recommend you disclose this as you wouldn’t want to be accused of withholding information in the event you need to make a claim on your policy.
Q: What can a vehicle report tell me and are they expensive?
A: In 2016, 1 in 10 vehicles were recorded as insurance write-offs; 1 in 8 had outstanding finance and 88,595 vehicles were reported stolen, and vehicle reports can tell you whether a particular vehicle is one of them. The vehicle reports average around £15 and will check whether a vehicle has any outstanding finance, whether it has a category marker, has been stolen or exported in addition to the standard vehicle data. Each report varies in what it searches for so you’ll need to check each one to ensure it covers the information you need, but they’re worth the money to give you peace of mind.
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