The extreme focus of the current Civic Type R has been toned down in an effort to attract a wider audience; on sale this autumn
The new Honda Civic Type R hot hatch will strike the perfect balance between performance and comfort, according to project boss Hideki Kakinuma.
Talking about the all-new, tenth-generation Civic-based hot hatch, Kakinuma said: “We are trying to balance two aspects. Some rivals focus on extreme performance and others are going in the comfort direction. We want to go right in the middle.”
The current Type R has been criticised for being too performance-focused, so this move is an acknowledgement that a more middle-of-the-road approach is needed in order to attract a broader audience, not least in the US, where the Type R will be sold for the first time.
Despite this intention, Kakinuma also confirmed that the new Type R will make an attempt on the Nürburgring Nordschleife front-wheel-drive lap record this spring.
A pre-production version of the previous-generation model held the Nürburgring record of 7min 49.21sec until last May, when Volkswagen’s Golf GTI Clubsport S recorded a lap time 1.4sec faster. Honda subsequently responded by setting new front-wheel-drive lap records at five European racing circuits.
The new Civic Type R features a revised version of the turbocharged 2.0-litre VTEC petrol engine used by the outgoing model. The flow rate of the exhaust gases has been increased and the ECU’s mapping has been updated which, Honda claims, improves throttle response and driveability at peak. Torque remains the same, with 295lb ft from 2500rpm to 4500rpm, but peak power is up by 10bhp to 316bhp at 6500rpm.
Kakinuma said the car’s kerb weight is “just about the same” as the existing Type R’s 1382kg. Given a similar weight and only a small increase in power, the new model’s 0-62mph time is set to slightly undercut the current car’s time of 5.7secs.
The Type R also retains the six-speed manual gearbox of the current car. Kakinuma said: “We want to offer customers the joy of shifting for themselves.” It also introduces a new rev-match control system which promises to give smoother gearshifts and negates heel-and-toe driving.
The outgoing Type R required the standard Civic’s platform to be significantly re-engineered, so the model launched a long time after the regular hatchback. However, for this generation, the Civic platform was designed for the Type R from the beginning.
The new model is longer, lower and wider than before, with a centre of gravity that is 34mm lower and a 50mm lower driver’s hip point, while further use of adhesive in the standard Civic bodyshell has increased torsional rigidity by 39% compared with the previous Type R, Honda claims.
The MacPherson strut suspension of the standard model has also been revised, with new geometry intended to minimise torque steer and improve handling. It also uses the same multi-link rear axle as the regular Civic but adds high-rigidity suspension arms.
Aerodynamics are also improved thanks to a smoother underbody, a front air curtain, a lightweight rear wing and vortex generators along the roofline. Honda claims the result is a best-in-class balance between lift and drag.
In a bid to offer a more comfortable ride than before, the Type R will have three driving modes: Comfort, default Sport and, for the track, R. Kakinuma described the Comfort mode as being “in line with the standard model”, while R is “a bit harder” than before. “We’ve extended the spectrum of the modes,” he added. “The previous Type R was only sold in the EU and Japan. In order to appeal to a broader range of customers, such as the US, we added the Comfort mode.”
Kakinuma also said work had been done to improve the exhaust note. “A key weakness [on the former model] was a booming sound,” he said. “ We’ve paid attention to that aspect and improved it, especially at low and mid-speed range. We tuned the sound and it’s all natural.”
The Civic Type R, which will be built at Honda’s plant in Swindon and exported around the world, will go on sale in the UK this autumn, with prices expected to rise slightly over the £30,000 entry point for the current model.