Honda Type R GT
Nostalgia occurs on a daily basis. Certain objects have the ability to go beyond the conjuring of faint and distant memories, plonking you right back in a moment long passed.
For some, nostalgia takes place when setting up the model train set ‘for the kids’. For others, it could be listening to an old album, looking at childhood photos or visiting a certain part of the world. My latest journey back in time took place when stepping into the Civic Type R GT – not that it is dated in any way, shape or form, but stay with me...
I sat restless and impatient at the bottom of my stairs on the morning of its arrival, like a kid at Christmas, waiting for the family to wake up and come down. This is a car that has been given so much hype among car journalists since it set a record-breaking 7:43.8 lap time at the Nürburgring.
Also, the new exterior design with its sharp lines and hungry-looking grills was the central topic of many conversations when pictures first emerged. The body is wide, characterised by countless scoops and vents that are dotted all over the place as well as an enormous spoiler that looms over the rear window. On any other model it would be too much, but approaching the Type R from any angle offers a treat for the eyes.
Everything is kept pretty simple inside, which is a key factor in the Type R's charm. The bucket seats swallow both passenger and driver, and while they don't exactly provide the comfort of a La-Z-Boy, they do position the driver near the ground to give that low centre of gravity, race-car feel. This is emphasised by the shape and grip of the steering wheel, as well as the trademark Type R weighted gear knob.
A no-nonsense touchscreen provides standard functionality, again adding to that charm with its retro appearance and basic feature list. There is some extra tech on the GT version: wireless charging for those who are scared of cables, rear and front parking sensors, and cross-traffic monitoring. There's even an auto dimming function on the rear view mirror, which means that bright headlights won't compromise your vision at night. This admittedly left me slightly puzzled when driving down windy country roads late on a Friday evening near the Cotswolds.
It's on these roads that the Type R GT comes into its own. The driving experience itself is one that is extremely hard to put into words. I could go into full geek mode here and describe all the tech that the Type R GT has - like the dual axis strut front suspension or the adaptive damper system - but that would fail to aptly describe the feeling. Putting your foot down offers a cocktail of excitement, adrenaline, panic and terror. It isn't always pleasant, but it is always engaging and unwaveringly brilliant.
But can it do more than cruise in the country on decent road surfaces? A friend of mine suggested that I would get sick of the Type R GT if I had to live with it in the city. My initial thought was to strongly disagree - it is manoeuvrable, it can be relatively quiet when handled delicately, and you aren't left cracking your head on the roof when hitting a pothole in 'Comfort' mode. It also has a fairly sensibly-sized boot, and although they aren't exactly spacious, the back seats will fit at least two people in for a short ride or two.
Honda says that the new Type R has been "built for the sheer thrill of driving, a car built with soul, a car that speaks to you in a way few others can." And I've got to say, I'd agree with them, at least on that last point - it's not often that a car can still make me grin like a buffoon when trundling home in London rush hour after a long day at the office. I put that down to the way it speaks to me as a big kid.