Okay, three things here: 1) Honda’s latest hotrod Civic, the Type R, set a time on the Nürburgring of 7 minutes 43.80 seconds, which is a very fast time indeed; 2) That is a record time for any front-wheel drive car; 3) Nürburgring records are not to be trusted.
Okay, so maybe number 3 is a bit arch, but there is a growing opinion on racing websites and sites maintained by track-tards of one stripe or another that Nürburgring lap times, especially ones claiming to be “records” are to be considered suspect.
Ring of Fire
The reasons for this suspicion are many, but they all break down to the fact that a time on the ‘Ring is more or less done on the honor system. And in the past, various manufacturers have been rumored to be using special compound, one use tires, and monkeyed up ECUs that were far from factory stock and the like so they could set a quick time and get some free PR for a while. All that said, 7 minutes 43.80 seconds is a really quick time for a lap of the Nürburgring, especially for something with all the handling faults of a front driver.
The new Type R will be launching in two months, so this is a very well timed bit of record setting. At 7 minutes 43.80 seconds, that lap is an advance of nearly 7 seconds over the previous-gen Type R, although Honda graciously points out that was the European market Type R, which was hotter than the North American version. And overall, the new benchmark lap time beat the previous record by over 3 seconds. Naturally there’s a video of the lap, which we have included below.
Power & Performance
Honda chalks up the record, first and foremost, to the new engine in the 2017 Civic Type R. After all, they are called the Honda Motor Company for a reason. Said plant is a 2.0-liter VTEC TURBO engine turning out 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque. Which, let’s face it, is a lot for such a little mill. No specs were given on the amount of boost being produced, but they’ve got to be squeezing the bejeebers out of that little four-banger. It is also worth noting this engine makes the new Civic Type R the most powerful Honda ever sold in America. Also of note, the lump is made right here in the U. S. of A. at Honda’s Anna, Ohio engine plant.
That 2.0-liter VTEC engine is hooked up to a six-speed manual transmission with new, lower gear ratios to improve acceleration, which is what this thing is going to be all about, because something tells me top speed is not going to be stratospheric. Oh, and speaking of outright speed, the new Type R’s aerodynamic package is there to deliver stability and balance.
Weight Reduction & Suspension Tech
Honda says the all-new Civic Type R is over 35 lbs. lighter than the previous-generation model, again from the European market, which are lighter than “ours” anyway. Honda does not say what the all up weight is, which is a pity, and also makes me wonder even more about that lap time.
The new Type R, has an all-new multi-link rear suspension for enhanced stability under braking and for reducing the total roll movement. This makes for further late braking into corners and helps to achieve higher cornering speeds during the lap. Again, obviously focusing on the car’s strengths – braking, cornering, and acceleration – since it’s not going to top out like a McLaren. The new Type R features a wider track and tires and a longer wheelbase, with that new multi-link suspension out back. The new R also boasts a 38 percent gain in torsional stiffness.
Caveats & Quickness
And speaking of equivocating and hedging of ones bets and raising of eyebrows, check this out from Honda’s press release: “The pre-production development Civic Type R that achieved the lap time was technically representative of production specification. A full floating roll cage was installed for safety reasons, but did not provide any additional rigidity to the body frame. The extra weight of the cage was compensated for by the removal of the Display Audio system and rear seats. The car was using street legal, track-focused tires.”
Let me just break that down a little: “Pre-production development” sure, but that’s not the same as “production” is it? “Technically representative” Really? That doesn’t sound like a loophole you could drive a track record through, nope. “Full floating roll cage . . . did not provide any additional rigidity.” Horse manure! “The removal of the Display Audio system and rear seats,” which weigh how much, in total in comparison to the weight of a full roll cage? And my personal favorite: “street legal, track-focused tires.” If I have to explain why that last one is just as big of a loophole as “technically representative” . . .
Anyway, those cavernous caveats aside: 7 minutes 43.80 seconds. That’s quick. Real quick. Dial up your own Type R in Forza on your Xbox and see if you can hit those marks, because I couldn’t.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.