2017 Civic Type-R carves a path through California’s Avenue of the Giants

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2017 Civic Type_R takes on Redwood Country

Compact ultimate performance hatchback meets worlds tallest tree: So it goes. Yet another week in the seat behind the wheel of Honda’s latest and greatest Civic performance hatchback. “Ultimate,” is an interesting word, with vast implications as well as a plethora of applicable meaning. Believe it or not, comparing the mighty coastal Redwoods to Honda’s latest and most powerful Civic manifestation is not that much of a stretch when we look to the unique, segment breaching, performance attributes presented in 2017 Honda Civic Type-R Touring.

Well, at the least, California’s original coast highway provides an exceptional, scenic backdrop for Type-R. The road itself is well maintained, narrow, twisty, and fast enough — keep an eye out for the trailer towing tourists. They’re generally slow driving, and many in number. Last week we took a 1,000 mile, 48 hour road trip to Humboldt County, where Civic Type-R carved a path through the historic Avenue of the Giants.

The Coffee Girl at Starbucks loves the edgy look of 2017 Civic Type-R

True enough, on our recent foray from Eugene, Oregon south to Humboldt County, California, Honda’s top of the performance mark Civic Type-R drew more attention than Mick Jagger at a Rolling Stones concert. Even the hardcore Subaru WRX fans came out for a look — walking away grinning after gaining a few minutes of seat time in Honda’s 306 horsepower, turbocharged, limit slip differential, 6 speed manually shifted FWD wonder car.

The 10th generation Civic world platform Type-R lives up to all the media hype

It’s  rare that I drive a new car offering that meets or exceeds the stated performance attributes, handling prowess, and fuel efficiency touted by the maker. This is the first Civic to ever wear the Type-R badge in the United States. Yes, a European Type-R with a stated 316 horsepower has broken track records in Europe and Asia, but that’s not the 10th generation Civic platform Type-R that became available for the Honda die hard 2 short months ago.

Our leather and cloth trimmed, cream white, and red and black interior 2017 Civic Type-R test mule is manufactured in England; features a manufactured in Alabama Earth Dreams gasoline engine, and is shifted by a very good close throw, 6 speed manual transmission made in Japan. 2017 Civic Type-R is a world car, manufactured by a world-auto-manufacturer. Frankly, it’s club-car track ready right out of the box.

Civic Type_R in Redwood Trees
2017 Honda Civic Type-R takes on the Avenue of the Giants.

For $36,000 and change, Civic Type-R is an exceptional, fun to drive performance bargain that’s very happy on the street, thanks to 3-drive modes, including “comfort,” and what I soon discovered to be a very comfortable racing style bucket seat. Me, I’d like power adjustment, but that’s just me.

The Type-R suspension and driving attitude is firm, but not painfully stiff. The instant-on torque and track-sticky cornering traction is a bit of a mind blower, considering that Type-R is a front-wheel-drive car. Honda engineering does a commendable job of reducing torque steer. — sure there’s some there, but it’s very manageable.

On start up, Type-R defaults to “sport” mode. Here you’ll find a stiffer steering feel,  a bit more pedal, and reasonably firm suspension.  Going on the track, toggle into “R” drive. It’s pretty extreme, and as my Chiropractor will tell you, a bit taxing on the bones. I like what Honda engineering did with Type-R’s exhaust tone, although the deep baritone growl can get a bit load at times.

Visually, Civic Type-R teeters on Bat Man stunning! However, everything you see on Type-R has a purpose, from its whale-tail hatch fin, down to the best looking 20 inch alloy painted wheels in the compact performance segment — Brembo calipers included.

48 hours, 1,000 miles, still smiling Civic Type-R darn near perfect

Once again, Honda’s latest and greatest Civic Hatchback does not disappoint. Read my latest Torque News article as we journey through the California coast redwoods and beyond.

 

2017 Honda Civic Type-R features euro-touring sport and refinement

One _Bad_Ass_Civic
One bad ass Civic

Not often does an auto manufacturer successfully blend track proven high performance and long range touring comfort in an affordable, segment topping high performance hatchback; such is the case with Civic Type-R. For 2017, the first Civic to wear the enviable Type-R mark in the United States is now imported from England.

Several years in the making, the Honda Fan Boy Tuner crowd is excited by the arrival of Honda’s Brembo braked 305 horsepower, 6 speed manual transmission super hatchback. And rightfully so. 2017 Civic Type-R  gives Ford, Subaru, and Volkswagen a run for the money, and will dominate the sub-premium compact performance hatchback segment without the added expense and weight of all-wheel-drive.

The weight to power ratio of 2017 Civic Type-R is epic, but that’s just the beginning of this story.

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305 horsepower 2017 Civic Type_R

Last week I spent a day with Honda on a 2.4 mile racetrack on Washington State’s Puget Sound. Granted, the record holding 2017 Civic Type-R 5-door performance hatchback excelled on the track, with myself and other auto journalists reaching rev-limiting speeds, on a multiple elevation and downturn track that rivals many in Europe and the U.S.. Read my track day account here.

Truly, where 2017 Honda Civic Type-R surprised this rather jaded journalist and other road-hardened press jockeys was on the road. Frankly, I wasn’t anticipating the ride refinement, cabin comfort, hands-free connectivity, and overall quality fit and finish encountered behind the wheel of Honda’s most powerful turbocharged Civic produced to date. After 4.5 hours, and a very twisty 180 miles through the beaches, grasslands and woods of Puget Sound, I was ready to purchase Type-R, or at least beg, steel, or borrow one — it’s that good man.

During Honda’s technical presentation, we learned the finer points of Type-R increased frame rigidity, active dampening suspension, epic cooled Brembo brakes, and the makings of perhaps the most comfortable high bolstered seat in Honda history. The rest is pure Honda touring hatchback, as it should be.

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The best driver’s seat in the segment

On the performance side, Honda employs a race proven VTEC 4-cylinder inner cooled 2.0 Liter dual cam gasoline engine, and arguably the most forgiving 6-speed manual racing class manual transmission in the segment. instant-on, seemingly endless torque is transferred to the pavement via a limited slip front-wheel drive differential.

Yet when behind the wheel, one would be hard pressed to differentiate Civic Type-R handling from the best AWD (all-wheel-drive) rally cars on the track today.

Honda engineering  eliminates torque steer in Type-R, resulting in a very positive straight-on launch off the light — Type-R traction is measurably sticky with ZERO brake fade noted under extreme driving conditions.

Manufactured on Honda’s compact car world platform, this Civic adds a high performance spin to an already very good European hatchback drive and ride experience. Unfortunately, you may never see, or experience one driving down a road near you.

A mere 2500, 2017 Civic Type-R will make landfall this year

With 1200 + Honda car dealerships in the U.S., not all will take delivery of Honda’s rarest offering. We’re informed by Honda P.R. that annual production if indicated by buyer demand, will peak out at 5,000 units per year — that should keep the resale value up a bit.

After spending 7 hours behind the wheel of Civic Type-R, I’m sold. Looking to the MSRP of $33,000 + handling, tax, etc, I believe Civic Type-R to be an exceptional buy and drive value. And with the micro-production numbers, look for the initial run 2017 Civic Type-R to be an instant collectible.

2017 Chevy Bolt Brings Mainstream Appeal to Electric Vehicle Segment

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Parks McCants drives the streets and countryside of San Francisco in 2017 Chevy Bolt.

I recently experienced Chevrolet’s exceptional 5-door Bolt hatchback on the outback surrounds and streets of San Francisco. Within miles of entering Chevy’ s latest offering in the ever evolving electric car universe, I forgot  I was driving a battery motivated electric vehicle.

That’s the beauty of 2017 Chevy Bolt, with a stated 230 + mile drive range between charging cycles, range anxiety quickly becomes a non issue. But Bolt’s appeal is much more than extended drive range. Chevy Bolt drives, rides, and feels like a conventional gasoline engine compact hatchback. The brakes, while regenerative, transmit natural hydraulic – like pedal feel back to the driver’s foot. The steering wheel road to driver input, although electric, feels natural, responsive, and easy.

Nice uptick interior finish 

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2017 Chevy Bolt EV brings a refined interior to the compact EV segment.

Chevy Bolt’s rather pleasant interior is exceptionally comfortable. The driver’s seat was firm, form holding, but not too restrictive. Bolt’s thin profile, foam filled power adjusted driver’s seat, handled my 6 foot 5 inch frame with ease, as did the rear bench. Surprisingly, the compact electric hatchback affords comfortable seating for 4 adults. Yes, 5 can fit in a pinch. With the second row 40/60 split bench folded, one discovers a near flat cargo platform, plenty of transformer-like space back here.

On the downside, visibility through the rear hatch is limited, especially with passengers on board. No worries, in top trim Chevy employs a rear cam that double duties as Bolt’s rear view mirror. It takes a moment to get used to, yet, it works well.

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2017 Chevy Bolt offers impressive hatchback utility.

As I ran my eyes and hand over Bolt’s interior finish and exterior body line, I was taken by how refined Chevy’s answer to a mainstream, long range, affordable electric hatch truly is. As to the drive, I was a bit blown away by the instant-on torque experienced behind the wheel of Bolt, as we navigated the crazy-steep streets of San Francisco. My companion mentioned roller coasters, that it was. Take-off and throttle hesitation is non existent in Bolt EV.

Freeway cruising is a pleasure

2017 Chevy Bolt, due to its inherent, battery module placement low center of gravity, handles road-sticky through the sweeps, with a larger, cushier car feel, when running at freeway speeds. Passing is effortless, seamless if you will. For those who have never experienced an electric car, the drive dynamic of Chevy Bolt is quite unique, pleasant and down right addictive.

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2017 Chevy Bolt features the longest between charge driving range in the segment.

On completion of our 6 hour drive circuit, 135 miles remained on the electric range minder. Astounding! Believe me, I didn’t baby 2017 Chevy Bolt.

In conclusion: If you were to ask me what I’d change in Bolt, at this juncture, nothing. Dollar for dollar, when I compare 2017 Chevy Bolt to any Battery Electric Car on the market today, when it comes to affordable electric car access, utility and extended drive range, Bolt wins, hands down. For more information on availability and MSRP, read my first drive impression recap at Torque News.