Wolf in sheep’s clothing: Honda FD2 Type R
Honda has always been an unconventional marque; Their first car was a maniacal chain-driven roadster with a threshold exceeding the redline of 9500 rpm. It was a car made by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts.
What won on a Sunday sold on Monday, as Honda went on to cash in on their formula one triumphs through dealerships and the telly back in Japan (google Honda Prelude Ayrton Senna ad).
While you're at it, look for a video of Senna testing (read: thrashing) an N1 spec EF9 civic equipped with a then newly christened VTEC engine, a technology we all know and (some) love. The stripped-out civic, screaming past the conventional redline for a commuter car for the masses while being thrown around Suzuka, at the helm of an instrument of precision driving that is Senna.
And thus kindled subconsciously relating the humble civic to an almost derogative pedigree of "Boy racer". Lone kanjo civic tribes ticking off the police through a behaviour of driving —that can be only described as antisocial— through Osaka's highways definitely didn't help either. Meanwhile, Honda figured out the marketing aspect: Type R, an array of thoroughbred sports cars. Starting with the NSX-R, followed by the Integra Type R, a cult classic in its own right. The civic received the red-blooded and badged Type R treatment eventually, and the rest is automotive history.
It took two generations of the Civic Type R to metamorphose into a fully grown sedan, from the nimble EK9 hatchback to the FD2 Type R. Type R's being wolves in sheep's clothing were never easy to spot to the untrained eye, contrary to the extroverted, outgoing Civic Type R. The FD2 Type R hints ever so slightly to its athletic prowess; starting with the subtly integrated aero clad front bumper and rear diffuser. The biggest red-badged flags, perhaps, are the rear wing and the red brembos. The interior coyly hints to the Type R DNA through the Recaro bucket seats, the tachometer and the aluminium gear knob, along with an individual production-specific numbered plaque out of 13,000 approximate units.
Sajeed Bin Sulaiman's 2010 FD2 Civic Type R is 1 of just 3 FD2R's in Bangladesh; the 11,862nd unit draped in Premium White Pearl, a mellower shade of white as opposed to the bright and flat quintessential Type R Championship White. Truth be told, the FD2R was my first foray into the world of Type R through another friend's (small world, huh?) FD2R. A sensory experience that left me in shock and awe. Sensory deprived onboard videos aren't enough to convey the visceral acceleration and sense of speed, leaving me longing for another encounter.
One fateful night long before 2020, on a ride-along with Shaker Bin Sulaiman, Sajeed's younger brother answered my prayers. The civic adheres to the road with levels of adhesion, akin to my fingers accidentally super-glued together. The K20A mated to a six-speed close-ratio gearbox is a match made in automotive heaven as the engine purrs through the stock exhaust with the rowing of gears, all the way to redline. There's a best motoring youtube video of an FD2 defeating its homogenous sibling, the DC5 Integra Type R, despite being 10 hp deficit around Tsukuba. The stock suspension behaves like an expensive set of bespoke coilovers, which obliges the sport sedan to corner like it's on rails, confidence-inspiring, to say the least, although the drawbacks of coilovers are persistent on Dhaka's roads translating to a harsher ride.
Shaker, being an avid motorsport enthusiast, was always a fan of Honda, as he tells me. Even more so of the FD2R, as he tells me that its reputation has preceded it in his eyes. He relishes the fact that it doesn't garner as much attention as any other flashy sports car; Sans the wing, there really isn't any way for an average joe to deduce the wolf in sheep's clothing in a field of sheep. For now, the civic is bone stock, just as it was intended to be enjoyed from the factory (although I wouldn't be surprised if it was conceived in a lab). Future plans might see the FD2 roaring through a full intake and exhaust upgrade with a standalone ECU, coupled with a lightweight flywheel and a full clutch kit.