Honda Civic Type R

New 316bhp Type R steals back FWD ’Ring record from VW, but noth­ing’s as sim­ple as it seems

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS - SD

Scep­tics of Nür­bur­gring lap times, avert your eyes: an­other record has tum­bled. With much fan­fare – though ar­guably lit­tle sur­prise – the new, UKbuilt Honda Civic Type R is the fastest FWD car around the Nord­schleife.

By be­ing crowned as such, it con­tin­ues what’s be­come a fercely fought and fre­quently chang­ing bat­tle for hot-hatch­back supremacy. Ever since the Leon Cupra took FWD be­low the eight-minute mark in 2014, Seat, VW, Re­nault and Honda have been trans­fer­ring the tro­phy be­tween each other’s man­tel­pieces seem­ingly ev­ery few months.

With a 7 minute 43.8 sec­ond lap time, the new 316bhp Civic Type R has taken over three sec­onds out of the out­go­ing cham­pion, the VW Golf GTI Club­sport S – al­though that car had its rear seats re­moved per­ma­nently, the Civic’s two-seat ar­range­ment was merely tem­po­rary. More on that in a minute...

Honda snafed the record on 3 April, as part of the lat­est Type R’s de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme. As well as tak­ing sev­eral sec­onds out of its ri­val, the new fast Civic also lapped the Nord­schleife al­most seven sec­onds quicker than the pre­vi­ous Civic Type R. While the new Civic is a mere 10bhp up on be­fore, its “best-in-class balance be­tween lift and drag” (read: big­ger wing than ev­ery­one else), wider track, longer wheel­base, multi-link rear sus­pen­sion, more hard­core chas­sis set­tings and lower gear ra­tios for the six-speed man­ual ’box have se­ri­ously upped its cor­ner­ing stability and there­fore its cor­ner­ing speeds, says Honda. Ryuichi Kikima, the lead chas­sis en­gi­neer, claims speed through Met­zges­feld is around 6mph higher thanks to this new set-up. You may re­call the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing its fore­bear’s record, which saw a Civic stripped of its back seats and of­cially wear­ing

pro­to­type status take the ’Ring record two years go. Well, we’re afraid things aren’t any sim­pler here.

“The de­vel­op­ment car that achieved the lap time was tech­ni­cally rep­re­sen­ta­tive of pro­duc­tion specif­ca­tion,” says Honda. “A full foat­ing roll cage was in­stalled for safety rea­sons, but its pres­ence did not pro­vide any ad­di­tional rigid­ity to the body.

“The ex­tra weight of the cage was com­pen­sated for by the tem­po­rary re­moval of the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem and rear seats. The car was us­ing road-le­gal track-fo­cused tyres.”

So, back seats have once again been swapped for a roll cage, boost­ing safety but (ap­par­ently) pro­vid­ing no weight or strength benefts – those re­main iden­ti­cal to the car we will soon be able to buy, so a body that’s 16kg lighter and 38 per cent stifer than its pre­de­ces­sor. Such nu­ances ar­guably have noth­ing on the efects of difer­ent driv­ers, tem­per­a­tures and weather con­di­tions, mind. Per­haps a shootout is what we really need…

Cau­tion! Type R can cause pho­tog­ra­phers to lie down for no ap­par­ent rea­son

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