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