The new Honda Civic Type R will land in New Zealand with an early go-fast notch in its belt, that of being the fastest front-drive production car around the Nurburgring race track in Germany.
The hatchback has lapped the famous circuit in 7 minutes, 43.8 seconds, beating by almost six seconds the previous best of 7min:49.21sec by the Volkswagen GTi Clubsport S, known in NZ as the GTi 40 Years Edition.
The three-door Civic Type R has made Nurburgring its own. In 2015, the outgoing Civic Type R lapped the 22km track in 7min:50sec, around four seconds quicker than the previous record-holder, the Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy-R.
Honda NZ will launch the Type R to its dealers and motoring writers at the Hampton Downs track in July, about a month after the standard five-door Civic goes on sale. The Civic sedan arrived here last year.
The Type R occasion will be a first for Honda NZ – never before has the hot hatchback been officially available here through its dealer network. It is being built at Honda’s Swindon plant in the UK.
The record-setting Civic Type R was a development car fitted with a roll cage and with no rear seats to compensate for the added weight of the cage.
Company engineers said the cage added no structural rigidity and that the lap was representative of what the production car could achieve.
It gets aerodynamic and performance enhancements such as a wider track, wider tyres, a longer wheelbase, higher torsional stiffness, bodykit and large rear wing, and a new multi-link rear suspension set up.
Honda has also fitted the new model with adaptive dampers and a range of driving modes for the first time. ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’ and track-focused ‘R+’ modes alter the steering, throttle, damper, and gearshift responses.
Another new feature is a rev-matching function, which automatically blips the throttle on downshifts to help smooth gear changes and maintain momentum.
Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, developing 235kW of power and 400Nm of torque, sent to the front wheels exclusively via a six-speed manual transmission.
Meantime, the standard five-door Civic goes on sale in NZ on June 17. Like the sedan 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 top-10 fastest laps around the Nurburgring.
10. Porsche 997 911 GT2 RS – 7:18s
9. Donkervoort D8 RS – 7:14.89
8. Lexus LFA Nurburgring Package – 7:14.64
7. Dodge Viper ACR – 7:12.13s
6. Gumpert Apollo Sport – 7:11.57
5. Mercedes-AMG GT R – 7:10.92s
4. Nissan GT-R Nismo – 7:08.69s
3. Lamborghini Aventador SV – 6.59.73s
2. Porsche 918 Spyder (Weissach Package) – 6:57s
1. Lamborghini Huracan Performante – 6:52.01s