Me And My Car

A dream come true: Honda Civic Type R is part of fantasy dating back more than 10 years

Since taking over the 2008 Honda Civic Type R last month, Mr Aaron Hia says driving it has been a thrilling experience.
Since taking over the 2008 Honda Civic Type R last month, Mr Aaron Hia says driving it has been a thrilling experience. PHOTOS: BENEDICT CHIA

Automotive product trainer Aaron Hia's Honda Civic Type R is part of a fantasy dating back more than 10 years

Mr Aaron Hia fell in love with cars after watching Initial D, a Japanese anime series, in 2004.

"I started researching the cars featured in the series," the 32-year-old product trainer with a car distributor recalls.

The fan of Japanese performance models obtained his Class 3A licence, which allowed him to drive only automatic transmission vehicles, when he was in polytechnic. "The first car I drove was the family runabout - a Volvo S60 T4."

In 2009, he bought his first car, a new off-peak Suzuki Swift.

"My dad kindly agreed to loan me half the money... For the other half, I took a five-year bank loan and my dad was the guarantor."

It was not long before Mr Hia took his car - which he fitted with forged alloys, sportier tyres, larger brakes, stiffer suspension and other chassis reinforcements - to the tracks.

"On a few occasions in Sepang, I managed to keep up with more powerful cars," he says. "I enjoyed seeing the other drivers' surprised looks."

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Earlier this year, he got his Class 3 licence, which allows him to drive a manual transmission car as well. He got it just in time for his next car - a used Honda Civic Type R with a six-speed manual gearbox.

It was the last of the naturally aspirated Type R's and had only one previous owner.

"I had to sell my Swift first. Luckily for me, my friend wanted to take the car off my hands because he knew the amount of effort I had put into maintaining it," Mr Hia says.

He got the keys to his 2008 Honda Civic Type R last month and has been having a blast with it.

"Driving the car has been nothing short of thrilling," he says.

"Mind you, I was a motoring journalist previously and have had the opportunity to drive many performance cars and supercars.

"I might be biased, but the Civic Type R is right there with the best of them when it comes to overall driving pleasure."

Its slick close-ratio manual gearbox, taut chassis, well-tuned suspension and eagerness to sprint forward at every opportunity are "absolutely enthralling", he adds.

Then there is the high-revving 2-litre 4-cylinder VTEC engine with a 9,000rpm limit and its lovely roar.

"It also allows me to ferry more family members as it's roomier than the Swift, although they often have something to say about the rather firm ride," says Mr Hia.

The driving enthusiast plans to take his Type R to the tracks soon. In the meantime, he is replacing some of its older and worn parts. "I can't wait," he says, but adds that he is not rushing it.

He intends to renew the car's COE for another 10 years when it expires next year.

"I will then have plenty of time to enjoy its many attributes," he says.

In a way, he has fulfilled a desire sparked by Initial D 13 years ago. The Civic Type R was among the cars featured in the series, even if it was not of the same generation as his.

•The writer contributes to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2017, with the headline 'A dream come true'. Print Edition | Subscribe