Used car buying guide: Honda Civic Type R (FN2) 2007-2011

Tyler Heatley

31 Aug 2021

Honda’s second Type R for the UK delivered on distinctive looks and a frenetic VTEC engine. Is now the time to buy?

+ Strong reliability

+ Exciting hot hatch that loves to rev

Not the game-changer its predecessor was

Can be thirsty

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Honda Civic Type R (FN2) 2007-2011: what’s good?

The UK got its first taste of Type R back in 2001 with the EP3-generation Honda Civic Type R. Lovingly known as the bread van, this car genuinely delivered something different within a highly competitive class. Its signature was that high-revving VTEC engine that gave it an explosive personality, a trait also shared by its FK2 successor. This new car didn’t turn up the wick in terms of performance – much to the dismay of Top Trumps fans – but it arrived with a fresh new look.

Even today the FN2 Type R is a great thing to look over. Its futuristic triangular exhausts, sharp creases, and rocket ship doorhandles gives it a unique appearance sat next to the likes of a Ford Focus ST. If you think the current Type R is a bit much, this slightly more intellectual design might be more to your tastes.

The undoubted star of the show is this car’s naturally aspirated 2.0-litre VTEC engine. It revs to 8,300rpm with much of its performance high in the range. It loves being grabbed by the scruff of the neck and eking out every last rpm before you swap cogs via the rewarding six-speed manual gearbox. The nature of VTEC engines means there’s a physical kick as the cam profiles change and the pace quickens.

It possesses a great chassis, too. Quick and direct steering leads the agile platform on a merry dance, however, it’s maybe not quite as fleet of foot as the old EP3. Driven hard this Type R gladly puts a grin on your face when covering challenging roads, but being a hot hatch it also delivers on practicality. This car will seat five and features an enormous 485-litre boot with underfloor storage. The FN2 lets you have your cake and eat it.

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Honda Civic Type R (FN2) 2007-2011: what’s not so good?

The FN2 is a really great hot hatchback, not only in terms of performance but that traditional Honda reliability as well. Mechanically these cars are really strong, but keep in mind that many will have lived a hard life by this point. The engines have proven pretty bulletproof over the years, so have faith in higher mileage examples. Something to look out for is the gearbox jumping out of third gear or being a faff to get in – this suggests a worn synchro. This car isn’t prone to rust, but take a look around the door and boot hinges to be sure.

A small and easily fixed issue that has come about over the years is a leaky boot. The damp floor is caused by a degraded seal where the lower rear windscreen meets the spoiler. Some fresh sealant will sort this out without fuss.

So, mechanically the FN2 is a pretty safe bet, but one thing you need to keep in mind before buying is the nature of its engine. Because all of its power and torque is delivered high in the rev range, performance can be lacking down low. Pulling out of junctions with some verve requires more revs, which might get tiresome after a while. Also, fuel consumption around town might be higher than expected. We wouldn’t say these things are dealbreakers, just something to keep in mind if you’re coming from a more conventional hot hatch.

Honda Civic Type R (FN2) 2007-2011: engines and trims

The FN2 Honda Civic Type R is powered by a 212bhp 2.0-litre VTEC engine, and this was the only mainstream variant throughout its life. The car was facelifted in 2010 and received a limited-slip differential, new lights, better sound deadening, USB input, and some suspension tweaks.

A GT trim level was offered in addition to the already well-equipped base car. It added cruise control, dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers and front fog lamps. 

Tuner Mugen provided a series of modifications with just 20 complete cars with the full complement of tweaks sold via Honda. These cars were boosted to 237bhp, featured revised suspension, larger brakes, sat 10mm lower to the ground, and hosted a mean aero kit.

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Honda Civic Type R (FN2) 2007-2011: the alternatives

The hot hatchback arena is a hotly contested space in the UK, so the Type R faced strong competition in period. Buyers had their pick of Ford’s excellent Focus ST or the sublime Volkswagen Golf GTI. It’s the Mk5 GTI that’s the real threat here, ultimately the Type R proved some £2,000 cheaper, making it great value for money.

On the used market, these FN2s continue to be excellent bang for buck. The EP3 gets much of the spotlight, and so this somewhat forgotten Type R enjoys some ‘under the radar’ pricing, however, this will likely change over the next few years with EP3 prices becoming a bit silly. 

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Tyler Heatley

31 Aug 2021