Advanced designs give the Type R more agility

The 2017 Honda Civic Type R is the newest hot hatch in the American market, but it’s not the most beastly contender. In fact, that title easily goes to the Ford Focus RS – the 350-horsepower AWD monster with drift mode. Rather than one-upping the Focus RS, the Honda development team aimed for lightweight precision and focused on drivability. The goal was creating a fully track-capable hatchback that was completely livable on public roads during daily driving. A substantial amount of math an engineering later, the Type R debuted with a unique suspension system that handles both.

Despite the Type R’s newness to the scene, we’ve had plenty of time behind the wheel. Honda had us at the launch event in August and we have one in the driveway as this is being written. (Believe us, it’s hard to remain behind the computer when seeing a red Type R through the window.) At the launch event in Washington State, Honda provided each journalist with their own Type R, allowing for uninterrupted driving and relief from awkward conversations with an unknown co-driver about their bad speeding habits. Track time at The Ridge Motorsports Park showed exactly how well the Type R could dance and provided a more intimate feeling of the car’s handling. Now we’re evaluating the Type R on familiar pavement. The consensus is that Honda did its homework. The Type R truly does offer a world-class driving experience with few trade-offs. We still think road noise is a bit too loud, but the low curb weight of only 3,117 pounds makes us understand the missing sound deadening material.

Continue reading for a full run-down of the Type R’s suspension.

Managing The Bump: A Look at the Civic Type R's Suspension Exterior High Resolution
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The Type R gets 42.7 feet of structural adhesive in high-stress areas that are simply not present in the standard Civic Hatchback

Honda engineers started with the Civic’s body. First, the new 10th-generation Civic is stronger and lighter than the previous car, but second, the Type R gets 42.7 feet of structural adhesive in high-stress areas that are simply not present in the standard Civic Hatchback. This leads to a 12 percent increase in lateral rigidity.

Mounted to the unibody is the Type R’s four-wheel independent suspension. Out back, the suspension remains very similar to the standard Civic’s, though it has unique active dampers, thicker anti-roll bars, and is 1.2 inches wider. Up front is where the magic really happens.

Behind a front-wheel-drive car, Honda had to overcome the Type R’s prodigious 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque from inducing unwanted torque steer – the effect of the engine’s power turning the steering wheel via drive force applied to the front tires. Honda uses what’s called a dual-axis front strut in order to counter this. Basically, the mountings for the front hubs are much closer to the hub and further away from the MacPherson strut tower. Aluminum knuckles help reduce unsprung weight while a thicker, 29mm anti-roll bar adds more control in hard cornering.

Managing The Bump: A Look at the Civic Type R's Suspension Exterior High Resolution
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The front track is also 2.0 inches wider and the 245/30ZR20 summer-performance tires are an inch wider than the standard Civic’s equipment

The front track is also 2.0 inches wider and the 245/30ZR20 summer-performance tires are an inch wider than the standard Civic’s equipment. That’s what necessitates the Type R’s widened bodywork.

As for the springs, the Type R uses coil springs with a spring rate 1.6 times greater than the stock car, while the anti-roll bar is 2.4 times more rigid. Even the bushings that hold everything together are nearly two times as firm. The Type R’s silver bullet is its Adaptive Damper System. The ADS has three firmness settings that correspond to the Type R’s three drive modes. The modes are Comfort, Sport, and +R. Each has their place and is dramatically different than the other.

Comfort mode is best suited for the street. It softens the dampers making imperfections in the road more bearable. The throttle is less twitchy and slightly more pedal travel is needed to spur the engine on. Sport mode is the driver’s choice for twisty roads. The throttle instantly becomes more responsive, the suspension is more ridges for better body control, and the entire car just feels more aggressive. When in +R mode, those Sport-mode attributes are multiplied 10 fold. It’s the mode best reserved for the track, especially since the adaptive dampers feel like they’ve been replaced with unbendable steel beams. The Type R in +R mode feels ridiculously nimble. Much of that can be attributed to the car’s 3,110-pound curb weight and super sticky tires.

Managing The Bump: A Look at the Civic Type R's Suspension Exterior High Resolution
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The Type R in +R mode feels ridiculously nimble.

On the track, we found the Type R to only exhibit very mild and predictable understeer only at the limit. Otherwise, the car tracks straight and true, offering a fun-filled and safe driving experience. Adding to that is the lightweight clutch and silky smooth six-speed shifter.

Hitting the Brakes

Managing The Bump: A Look at the Civic Type R's Suspension Exterior High Resolution
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Big Brembo calipers with four pistons grab 13.8-inch drilled rotors

The Type R is impressively good at stopping, too. The front brakes are vastly upgraded over the standard Civic’s binders. Big Brembo calipers with four pistons grab 13.8-inch drilled rotors. (The stock rotors only measure 11.1 inches in diameter.) Under-body cooling vents direct air to the front brakes for long-lasting performance. Out back, the Civic’s 10.2-inch solid rotors are upgraded to 12.0-inch discs, though a single-piston caliper is still used. Combined, the brakes haul the Civic Type R from 60 mph to a full stop in an utterly short 99 feet. And for those wondering, the sprint back to 60 mph only takes 5.4 seconds thanks to the Type R’s wonderful 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

References

Honda Civic

2017 Honda Civic Type R High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Honda Civic Type R.

Managing The Bump: A Look at the Civic Type R's Suspension Exterior High Resolution
- image 729293

Read our full driven review on the 2017 Honda Civic Type R

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