THE highly anticipated Honda Civic Type R hot hatch may have only just arrived, but it has already set its sights on reclaiming the Nürburgring’s front-drive lap record.
The new Civic Type R dumps atmo induction for a turbocharger, with its 2.0-litre VTEC engine now producing 235kW and 400Nm.
While that represents only a modest 3 percent power increase, Honda says a six-speed manual transmission, carried over from the outgoing model but improved by a rev match control system, will help boost performance.
The hot Honda’s new body is lighter than the Type R it replaces, with torsional rigidity improved by 38 percent. Kerb weight remains around 1382kg.
The tweaks should see a slight gain on the previous Type R’s 0-100km/h time of 5.7sec. While that won’t exactly send a shudder through the all-wheel-drive Focus RS or Golf R, it’s enough for the Japanese carmaker to find another 1.5sec to have a crack at reclaiming the Nürburgring lap record for front-wheel-drive production cars – currently a 7min 49sec set last year by the Volkswagen Golf Clubsport S.
The attempt will also be assisted by stiffer suspension, with the front Macpherson strut rig of the standard hatchback revised with new geometry to minimise torque steer and maximise sporty handling. At the rear, the new independent multi-link system of the standard car gains unique high-rigidity suspension arms.
Then there’s a muscular aero package that further enhances stability. The boldly styled kit is true to the Type R concept revealed at Paris last year and includes a smoother underbody, front air curtain, a lightweight rear wing and vortex generators at the trailing edge of the roofline. Honda claims that apart from the aggressive aesthetics they contribute to provide a best-in-class balance between lift and drag.
While performance is important, Honda’s Civic Type R project chief, Hideki Kakinuma, said the new-generation hot hatch was designed strike a balance between agility and comfort.
“Some rivals focus on extreme performance and others are going in the comfort direction. We want to go right in the middle,” Kakinuma told British motoring website Autocar.
Enhanced driving modes help achieve a balance between track-day hero and daily driver, and include a new ‘Comfort” setting alongside “Sport” and track-focused “+R” modes. Each mode tailors the adaptive dampers, steering force, gear shift feeling and throttle response of the car.
Despite being based on the all-new 10th generation Civic, the interior harks back to the existing model with plenty of red trim including the inserts of the seats which seem to have carried over.
Production of the new Honda Civic Type R is anticipated to start in a few months’ time at Honda’s global manufacturing hub for the new-generation Honda Civic hatchback at Swindon, England.
It will be exported around the world including North America, marking first time that any Honda-badged Type R has been officially sold there.
It will go on sale in Australia later in 2017, with full specifications and features to be announced closer to launch.