A pre-production example of the new go-fast Honda Civic Type R hatchback is on show at the carmaker’s main outlet in Auckland, there to lure potential buyers of the second shipment – because all 26 cars in the first shipment have been sold sight unseen.
Honda’s dealers have snapped them up, three months before they actually land in NZ. Most dealers already hold deposits from private buyers. Those buyers who missed out on the first 26 cars face a wait – Honda NZ doesn’t yet have a date locked in for the second shipment.
Such is the appeal of the Civic Type R, the five-door that holds the lap record for a front-drive car around Germany’s Nurburgring circuit, a blistering time of 7min 43.8 sec.
Much of the appeal lies in the performance of the car’s turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine, which delivers 228kW at 6500rpm and 400Nm of torque between 2500 and 4500rpm and drives the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.
The price, too, is a lure – $59,900 plus on-road costs, or around $13,000 less than an already established five-door flyer, the all-wheel-drive Ford Focus RS.
Consider the Civic Type R’s record Nurburgring lap time – quicker by two seconds on the list of top 100 laps than a rear-drive hustler like the V8-powered Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series recorded in 2007; quicker by almost four seconds than a Porsche 911 GTS RS did in 2006; quicker by more than four seconds than the BMW M3 GTS did in 2010; quicker by 11.5 seconds than the all-wheel-drive Subaru WRX STi did in 2010.
Okay, the lap times span 11 years of go-faster development, but only fellow Japanese brand Subaru can be compared in price and four-cylinder powertrains. The Germans are three and five times more expensive and come with more powerful six- and eight–cylinder engines.
For the first time Honda has fitted the Civic Type R with adaptive dampers and a range of driving modes – ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’ and track-focused ‘R+’ – which alter the steering, throttle, damper, and gearshift responses.
The modes are on the left of the gear lever, next to the signature plate holding the serialised model number of the car. The numbers on the pre-production model are zeros only – it’s not for sale.
Another new Civic Type R feature is a rev-matching function, which automatically blips the throttle on downshifts to help smooth gear changes and maintain momentum. A new single-mass flywheel reduces clutch inertia by 25 per cent and a lower final gear ratio is there to improve acceleration.
The new body is stronger than the previous model – torsional rigidity is up 38 per cent and bending rigidity 45 per cent, gains that improve steering response and cornering stability.
Meantime, the standard five-door Civic is on sale now, priced between $29,900 and $42,900. Like the sedan that landed here last year it comes with either a turbocharged four-cylinder 1.5-litre engine (Civic RS, Civic NT, Civic Turbo) or a naturally aspirated 1.8-litre four (Civic S). Both engines are mated to a continuously variable transmission.
The new CR-V crossover is available too, for the first time with an optional seven-seater. There are four models, offering both front- and all-wheel drive and priced between $37,900 and $47,900 and CVT transmission.
Under the bonnet is a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine delivering 140kW at 5500rpm and 240Nm of torque between 2000 and 5000rpm. It’s the Civic engine, except it’s been tuned to deliver an extra 13kW and 20Nm in the CR-V.