NZ-bound Type R a ring master

The hottest version of the incoming Civic hatchback is landing with an impressive credential.


AN astounding Nurburgring success is drawing attention to the super-hot version of the Civic hatch that’s coming to New Zealand after the more mainstream models have settled in.

While Honda New Zealand has long signalled intent to include the Type R model in its local line-up, for now the pre-launch campaign for the hatch is focussing on the less fiery but still feisty Civic RS Sport Turbo, which will be the initial firecracker offer when the type comes on sale on June 17.

The Auckland-based distributor announced today it is taking pre-orders for the five-door car, which sources from United Kingdom in all formats, whereas the sedan that has been here for the past year comes from Thailand. However, it has not indicated pricing for the new addition, which in other than Type R format has the same 1.5-litre and 1.8-litre and constantly variable transmission choices as the sedan.

In any event, it might be that performance fans will only for the moment have thoughts for the Type R, which is likely to be a fourth quarter arrival to compete with the front-drive Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI, the all-wheel-drive Focus RS and Golf R and the forthcoming Hyundai i30 N.

The hottie cannot help but become a magnet for local interest with the announcement that it has set the Nurburgring lap record for a front-wheel-drive vehicle, clocking a time of 7 minutes 43.8 seconds.

That effort hammers the previous record time of 7:49.21 set by the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S in May last year, and is well ahead of the 7:50.6 time set by the previous ninth-generation Civic Type R which wasn’t considered for NZ sale.

The tenth-gen Type R continues with its predecessor’s 2.0-litre VTEC turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but the outputs are improved to 235kW and 400Nm and it also takes revised lower gear ratios for the six-speed manual, greater aerodynamics, revised rear suspension and increased torsional rigidity.

The new model’s body frame is 16kg lighter than the old one with 38 percent greater torsional rigidity, while a new multi-link rear suspension set-up allows for greater speed into corners. 

For the lap record attempt, the infotainment system and rear seats were removed to accommodate for the weight associated with the installation of a roll cage, which Honda says did not provide any benefits for body stability.

Track-focused road tyres were fitted and, as the video here shows, conditions for the lap were dry. Honda says the ambient air temperature was optimal.

Honda Civic Type R lead chassis engineer Ryuichi Kijima cited improved cornering speed as being an incremental reason for the sizzling lap.

“The cornering speed achieved in the new Type R is higher because the car features a wider track and tyres, a longer wheelbase, new multi-link suspension in the rear and optimised aerodynamics that improves stability,” he said in comment released by the brand.

“For example, drivers typically enter the corner after Metzgesfeld at around 150 kmh. Even at this medium-speed corner, the speed is around 10 km/h higher due to the new Type R’s excellent stability. 

“So, with improved cornering performance, we can increase the speed throughout the lap, helping the new Type R to achieve a much quicker lap time.”

Meantime, Honda here is suggesting some of the Type R’s genes – if not its full gusto – will reach into the more mainstream editions, saying the hatch in all formats is equally as fun-tuned as the sedan, which is claims is the sportiest Civic ever.

Nadine Bell, HNZ’s general manager marketing, says the booted model has inserted comfortably into the NZ market, achieving more than 41 percent of private customer share since launch.

She says all variants of the Honda Civic Hatch will feature a body coloured upper tailgate spoiler and a black lower rear spoiler, along with Piano Black grille and a sports interior environment with dark roof lining and pillar trims in place of the contrasting lighter interior colour on the sedan.

The Civic RS Sport Turbo Hatch offers the high level of driver spec and technology seen in the RS Sedan, but stands apart from the rest of the Hatch variants and the RS Sedan, with an aggressive ‘Type R’ style centrally mounted exhaust system (but with dual pipes), finished with chrome exhaust outlets.  In addition, the RS Sport Hatch also has a full lower body kit in Piano Black encompassing a front under spoiler, side skirts and rear under spoiler, plus the RS dark chrome treatment for the exterior door handles.