Honda’s touchscreen infotainment isn’t the last word in excellence but there are phone mirroring and separate climate controls, physical steering wheel buttons and a smattering of other real knobs and dials. And an actual rear wiper. Next to the gearlever is a switch for the drive modes.
There are Comfort, Sport and angry +R modes, plus for the first time an Individual set-up that allows the driver to separately tweak things such as the engine note, steering weight, damper stiffness and other parameters.
I drive it on road and track, but both are damp. Before I set off, a tame Honda racing driver tells me that, whatever mode I’m in, and despite the fact I’m on an unfamiliar circuit first thing in the morning, with cold tyres and wet asphalt, it’s an easy car to feel comfortable with.
And he’s right. The Type R is particularly good at making its driver feel at ease, and doing so quickly. First impressions are that this is a more synthetic experience than previously, in the same way that the new Toyota GR86 is compared with its GT86 predecessor. Not in the way it handles, but in, say, the slickness of its steering, which weights-up and responds in such a well-refined manner that torque steer is largely wiped out, and the torque feedback that does reach the rim is full of messages you do want, about how much traction is available and when it’s going to run out. I suspect only electric rather than hydraulic steering can be tuned to that extent. Similarly, the engine plays some of its sound through the speakers, also synthetically.
But beneath both of those new facets there is still a fantastically capable car that has added real breadth of usability to how it rolls down the road, especially on poor surfaces. There’s little of the hardness that marked the previous car out, particularly in Comfort, but even in Sport or, on better roads, +R.