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The last Honda Civic Type R rolled off the production line in 2007. That was just before the peak of the financial crisis, when people were fearing the worst for the auto industry. People just didn’t want fast cars, and so the Type R went into hibernation.
But you can’t sleep forever unless you’re dead, and the Civic Type R is anything but dead. The scorching hot Honda has returned, and it’s now the fastest front-wheel drive car to tackle the Nürburgring. Its 7m50.63s has bested the previous record set by the Megane RS 265 Trophy-R from Renault. The margin of victory was significant, more than three seconds.
Just what is it that makes this car so awesome? Let’s take a closer look.
More Power to You
Oh, the irony! The name “Civic” makes you think of that original boxy beater you drove to work daily in the ‘80s. But this car was designed with two things in mind: Hulking power and bratty speed.
This Type R is the first to include VTEC with turbocharging. The 2.0-liter engine produces 306 horsepower at 6,500 RPM and 295 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. Its top speed is 167 mph, and it can sprint from 0-60 in just 5.7 seconds.
To combat all the criticism surrounding front-wheel drive cars, Honda just sent even more power to the front wheels. Now, you may be crying understeer, but a helical limited slip differential, balanced drive shafts, and dual-axis front struts keep everything in line, cutting the pull by up to 55 percent.
The Type R is all about including you in the driving experience. This is why, instead of all-wheel drive, Honda kept it simple and light with a six-speed manual.
There’s a “Plus” for a Reason
The Golf GTI may be the best performance car out there that money can buy, but the Type R is dumping a bucket of ice water on your head. It wakes you up.
The Type R includes a +R button on the dash. Pressing this button heightens the chassis and drivetrain response. When you press the +R button, the dampers stiffen, the servo-assisted brakes let their guard down, and fuel economy is forgotten completely. It comes alive above legal speed limits and takes curves best. A test driver for the blog Jalopnik commented on its handling:
“The brakes didn’t fade, the tires took a lot for a road rubber running on very hot tarmac, and I had plenty of power on tap to pull out of a corner once I dared to floor it. The gearbox almost asked for those hard downshifts to third, the steering was very accurate, there was less understeer in the corners than I expected, and torque steer didn’t feel like an issue at all.”
The Type R starts at £30,000 in the UK. They were the first to get it since the first Type R was quite popular there. We in the states won’t be seeing the Type R for a while, though. Western Europe is next, and Honda will probably wait a few years down the line to unleash it here.
Meanwhile, all Honda has to worry about is making sure no one steals their thunder at the Nurburgring.