If driver engagement is what you’re looking for in a car, the Honda Civic Type R is difficult to overlook.

It’s a tremendous performance car, more so than ever - although the current generation model isn’t as affordable as it once was.

But the improvements go a long way towards justifying the price increase, with tweaks to most aspects of the vehicle.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is boosted by a faster-spinning turbocharger, for improved response that allows the car to reach its maximum rpm faster.

Stourbridge News: The Honda Civic Type R

A less restrictive exhaust system and a more advanced engine control module are among the other mechanical changes.

It makes for some small gains, such as an increase of 8bhp to make 324bhp, and a boost of 20Nm of torque to provide a total of 420Nm.

It feels very sharp off the mark and acceleration is consistent throughout the rev range, with a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds. With the Type R being front-wheel drive, you have to be progressive with the accelerator to avoid wheelspin when setting off, but the car settles down nicely once you’re over 15mph.

The shift-quality on the six-speed manual gearbox has also been enhanced, making the process even slicker and further heightening the sense of driver engagement. Honda says it has been optimised by a rev match control system to ensure precise gear changes.

Stourbridge News: The Honda Civic Type R

When cornering, the car feels well-balanced, with a low centre of gravity helped by the fact the current version is lower and wider than its predecessor.

Changes to the steering set-up have boosted responsiveness and precision, making for fast and accurate steering.

The Type R has been aerodynamically modelled to control air flow for greater stability and downforce, while the structure is more rigid than ever.

The car’s body is lighter, partly due to the introduction of an aluminium bonnet and a tailgate made from plastic resin.

It all amounts to record-breaking speed, with the Type R being the fastest front-wheel drive car to have driven the legendary 5.8km Suzuka circuit.

Once inside, you’re met with a slicker and more upmarket cabin design, including a more sophisticated digital dash.

Stourbridge News: The Honda Civic Type R

The low-mounted red sports seats look superb and provide excellent support, allowing you to find a perfect driving position as you sink into their bucket-style design.

It feels like the cockpit design has been centralised around the driver to allow for high levels of concentration.

You can connect your smartphone via Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay and access your apps through the nine-inch touchscreen.

In terms of looks, the Type R still sports a muscular silhouette, but is no longer quite so ‘in your face’ as previous generations.

Stourbridge News: The Honda Civic Type R

Sure, there are still some aggressive design cues, but Honda has taken a more subtle approach to the car’s exterior styling.

In terms of practicality, the Type R loses the central rear seat, but the boot remains the same 410 litres from the base Civic. That’s a bit smaller than the previous Type R, but is better than the majority of its rivals.

In conclusion, the new Type R is undoubtedly sleeker, lighter and faster than before, but a price tag of around £50,000 brings it into competition with some serious rivals, including many with four-wheel drive. It’s a great machine, but buyers may have to think hard about the pricetag.

The Lowdown

Honda Civic Type R

PRICE: £49,090

ENGINE: 2-litre petrol

ECONOMY: 182g/km and 34.4mpg

PERFORMANCE: 0-62mp in 5.4 seconds and max speed of 171mph

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual, front wheel drive