Honda wants to set the fastest lap for a front-wheel-drive car around Germany’s Nurburgring circuit – and it’s about to show off the turbocharged car it reckons will do it.
The storming new Civic Type R will be unveiled at this week’s Paris motor show and it promises to be the most performance-focused model in the 22-year history of the Type R.
The latest high-performance Civic – five-door, luminous blue with red decals – is officially badged as a concept, but European observers are confident it is an almost-ready production model ready to go on sale next year.
“It’s not whether we could sell it here, more if we can actually get it,” he said. “Of course we would like it at some stage, but we won’t see it in the near future.”
The last time the Type R sold new through Honda NZ was in 1996-98. The three-door flyer weighed around 1100kg and used a high-revving 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine delivering 138kW to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox.
The latest Type R is the first production model Honda Civic to get a turbocharged engine, in this case a 2.0-litre i-VTEC unit the carmaker promises will deliver more than 207kW, or 278bhp. Gearbox is a six-speed manual.
The Paris show car is pretty much the same as the concept unveiled at Geneva last March. The enormous rear wing, quad exhausts, racing-style rear diffuser and wild bodywork remain – but Honda has revealed some of the high-tech goodies underneath, including a new steer-axis front suspension.
Another feature is the +R driving mode. It works via a button on the dashboard and sharpens up the responsiveness of the engine, extracts greater performance from the turbocharged motor and gives the steering more weight.
There’s also a new four-point Adaptive Damper System, specifically designed to manipulate the firmness of the front and rear dampers automatically depending on the driving conditions.
At cruising speeds, the dampers will automatically adjust to a softer set-up to provide a more comfortable and supple ride. Get on the throttle and the dampers will firm up for better body control and greater agility.
The all-new Civic Type R will arrive in British and European showrooms next year, expected to be priced between the front-drive Volkswagen Golf GTI and four-wheel-drive Golf R.
Its main target? The Renault Megane RS275 Trophy R, in which Renault test driver Laurent Hurgon (below) last June set the Nurburgring lap record for a front-driver of 7m 54.36sec – 14sec quicker than Renault managed in the RS265 in 2011 and a time equal to that of the Nissan GT-R of 2008.