Type-R Hondas are not among the fastest or the most powerful cars in the world, but they are between those that provide some of the most exciting driving experience and racing car feel. The European dominated “hothatch” sector is about to be shaken up by a new Japanese member with Type-R philosophy, the new Honda Civic.
Honda’s philosophy on performance cars is different to any other manufacturer. Built around the Type-R concept, Honda sports-cars don’t get to be the most the most powerful in the world. Instead of that, they are engineered to create one of the best driving experience by use of a responsive steering, intuitive handling.
The Type-R name was first used at Honda by the motorcycle division. For high performance bikes the “R” letter was added to the name (for example, the sportier version of the CB was called CB-R). The first Type-R Honda vehicle was the NSX-R. This was a lightened NSX, and used car used a better power to weight ratio in order to compete with Porsche and Ferrari.
Honda’s Type-R philosophy is focused around offering a driving experience similar to that given by racing cars and making the driver part of the machine by giving him high levels of feedback from the vehicle such as sound, steering response and handling. Type-R cars are not just known for being fast, they also offer great performance in gear changing, braking, steering and handling. Another goal of Type-Rs is that of offering an authentic driving experience, not affected by driving assisting systems or other such as sound proofing that can diminish the driving involvement. For the very same reason a Type-R Honda is not generally equipped with luxuries equipment, such as sat-nav, hands-free telephones or leather interior, but it is meant to look and feel more like a racing car.
Another key element of the Type-R racing spirit is the use of normally aspirated high-rev engines. While supercharged engines could easily produce more power, NA engines deliver their power smoother and put it to ground more effectively. After all, is not important how much power a car can deliver, but much of it can it actually put to the ground. A performance engine should be mounted on a stiffer chassis that improves handling, balance and adjustability, offering a more involving drive.
The new Honda Civic Type-R will be an exponent of all of these principles and blend them with the highly appreciated design of the new Civic. The car could already be previewed as a concept-car in Geneva Motor Show, this year, and will hit production in early 2007.
Under the hood it will feature an improved version of the high-rev 122 cui iVTEC engine known from the previous model. An interest thing is that Honda does not go for the “power competition” in which the competitors seem to be engaged. Other “super-hatches” such as the Opel Astra OPC deliver 240 bhp, but the Type-R will offer still 200 bhp, but will use them wiser. The new Typ- R will offer this time an equipment package for those that prefer comfort to pure performance. Therefore the GT grade will be equipped with dual zone air conditioning and automatic rain and light sensors. The new Civic Type-R will be built, as its predecessor was, at Honda’s Swindon, UK, plant.
As a basis for the Type-R, Honda has already released the Type-S Civic, with sportier suspension, steering and overall improved handling. In addition to that the Type-R will have visible improved aerodynamics, with a massive front spoiler, with large air intakes. These continue with the side skirts to complete the lower body structure. The deep front air intake, the 18 inches alloy wheels and wider rear track give the Type-R a muscular and planted look.
The interior will be pretty much the same with that of other Civics. Vehicle speed, will be displayed in the upper part of the instrument panel, while other information will provided in the lower section. This clever configuration presents information to the driver without compromising his concentration on the road.
The coupe styling will not compromise the cabin space. The interior will provide a high degree of flexibility and passenger accommodation. The distance between the hip point of front and rear passengers for the Civic is equal to that in higher segment cars.
The first Type-R was the 1992 NIX-R. Lightened by 265 lbs and fitted with Recaro seats, MOMO steering wheel and a stiffer suspension it was produced in 1995 units.
The second Honda to get a Type-R model was the 1995 Integra. It was equipped with a 100 cui DOHC VTEC engine, with 200 bhp at 8,000 rpm. Special accessories for the Type-R were a helical LSD, sports suspension, front and rear spoiler, alloy wheels, MOMO steering wheel, and Recaro seats.
In 1997 is released the first Type-R Civic, powered by a high-reving 98 cui
DOHC VTEC B16B engine that made 185 bhp at 8,200 rpm. This lightweight engine featured a new valve system allowing higher engine speeds, reduced friction, improved breathing, and increased compression ratio. Other modifications to the Type-R were the increased body rigidity, reduced weight, sports suspension, torque-sensitive helical LSD, sports ABS, and Bridgestone Potenza RE010 tires.
In Japan and US an updated version of the Integra Type-R is launched for sale in 2001. This cars DOHC i-VTEC engine produces 220 bhp transferred by a new 6-speed manual gearbox. Other improvements include the front suspension and the reactive-link double wishbone rear suspension. Type-R distinctive equipment consisted of Recaro front seats, MOMO steering wheel, aluminum pedals, aluminum shift knob, exclusive aero parts and Brembo front brakes.
The 7th generation Civic generation also received a Type-R version in 2004, that becomes known as the CTR. Featuring an 122 cui i-VTEC engine that produced 200 bhp this Civic Type-R got numerous “Hot Hatch of the Year” awards.
Thehot-hatch market is mainly dominated by European manufacturers. The exponent of this category is the car that invented the genre, the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Equipped with an 122 cui R4 turbo, the GTI reaches 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Even more power can be found in the Renault Megane RS (224 bhp), Ford Focus ST (225 bhp) or Opel Astra OPC (240 bhp).
Track front 59.2 in
Width 69.3 in
Aspiration normally aspirated
Front suspension MacPherson Struts, Lower Wishbone, Coil-Over Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar
Brakes: Vented discs, sport ABS
TopSpeed artists tuning recommendation
We came up with a tuning sample for the future Civic Type-R owners. As you can see, we have mounted a new front spoiler with larger air-intakes that comes from A&L Racing. Also on the aerodynamic side, the side skirts have been lowered to meet the spoiler height. The ride-height was reduced by mounting lower struts and Koni performance shock-absorbers. Front lights got a green-tint that nicely suits the body color (Honda racing white). The new wheels are Mugen 9x19”, which host new Brembo brakes with 4-piston calipers and cross drilled rotors.