Honda, king of Europe ... almost
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One of the most consistently hyped cars of the last few years, the Honda Civic Type R, has claimed a gamut of record front-wheel-drive production-car lap times across several European race tracks. However, the infamous Nurburgring is not among them.
Honda has announced that its turbo-charged, manual-only Civic Type R has worked its way across Europe, setting new benchmark front-wheel-drive production car lap times at five of the world’s top circuits.
Completed in a vehicle claimed by the Japanese manufacturer to be a “standard production car with no mechanical modifications”, the lap times are from the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit (2:31.85), Spa-Francorchamps (2:56.91), the Monza Grand Prix circuit (2:15.16), Estoril (2:4.08), and finally the Hungaroring (2:10.85).
Tackled in a bid to “assert Type R as the leading front-wheel-drive performance hatchback”, the times were achieved by four drivers, the task shared between three-time British Touring Car Championship winner Matt Neal, Honda WTCC drivers Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz, and WTCC safety car driver Bruno Correia.
Starting in April with England’s Silverstone circuit, Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps, Italy’s Monza, and Portugal’s Estoril followed in May, with Hungary’s Hungaroring the last piece of the puzzle, completed on June 6.
Dubbed “the ultimate race car for the road”, Honda Motor Europe senior vice-president Philip Ross was obviously pleased with the Civic Type R’s multi-track campaign, saying, “This challenge secures Civic Type R’s position as the benchmark in the front-wheel-drive performance segment.”
Powered by a 228kW/400Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre VTEC petrol engine, the Honda Civic Type R claims a 7000rpm redline, a 5.7-second 0-100km/h sprint and a 270km/h top speed. It also comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, high-performance Brembo brakes, 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive dampers, and an advanced “dual-axis strut” front suspension system.
Despite plenty of argument — and Honda’s own admission that the car used was a “development car with technical specifications representative of the final production car” — Honda is sticking to its guns in claiming a May 2014 Nurburgring Nordschleife front-wheel-drive lap record of seven minutes 50.63 seconds, rather than completing a new time with the same production car used to set the newly announced lap times. Regardless, its previous Nurburgring time was recently bettered by the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S (7:49.21).
In late 2015, Honda Australia confirmed the local division’s decision not to offer the current-generation, UK-built Honda Civic Type R, instead deciding to hold out for the all-new version due in 2017.
Honda is confident that car will become the world’s fastest front-wheel-drive production car to lap the notorious 20.83km German circuit, dubbed “The Green Hell”.