Honda's upcoming Civic Type R hot hatch has snatched back the fastest front-wheel drive crown at the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife after clocking a lap time of 7:43.80 – 5.41 seconds faster than the previous Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S title holder.
Although Honda completed the lap in a pre-production vehicle, it says the lap time is indicative of the finished Civic Type R as it was "achieved during the final phase of the model's testing regime" on a dry track with perfect conditions.
Like the production version, the car employs a turbocharged 2.0-litre VTEC four-cylinder engine producing 235kW of power and 400Nm of torque, and was run using undisclosed road regal, track-focused tyres.
However, changes to the record-holding car include a floating roll cage which "did not provide any additional rigidity to the body frame" with the weight disadvantage offset by the removal of the multimedia system and rear seats.
Almost seven seconds faster around the same track than the previous-generation Civic Type R – which utilises the same (K20C1) engine rated at 228kW and held the record in 2014 – Honda has fitted the new car with lower gear ratios for improved acceleration, a new aerodynamic package to reduce lift and drag, a stiffer body frame to improve torsional rigidity (by 38 per cent), and shaved 16kg from overall weight.
Honda has also installed a new multi-link rear suspension which, according the Japanese brand, "enhances stability under braking and reduces the total roll movement of the car, enabling later braking into corners and helping to achieve higher cornering speeds during the lap."
Honda Civic Type R lead chassis engineer Ryuichi Kijima also cited the wider track and tyres and longer wheelbase as reasons to the Civic Type R's new-found quicker pace.
"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.
"For example, drivers typically enter the corner after Metzgesfeld at around 150km/h. Even at this medium-speed corner, the speed is around 10km/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 achieve a much quicker lap time."
The lap record makes the new Civic Type R faster than the BMW M4 (7:52), Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano (7:47), Pagani Zonda S (7:44) and almost as quick as the Porsche Cayman GT4 (7:42).
The six-speed manual-only Civic Type R will touch down in Australian showrooms before the end of the year, where the high-performing hatchback is expected to sit above the standard front-drive hot hatch fare such as the Ford Focus ST, Holden Astra VXR, (incoming) Hyundai i30 N, Mini John Cooper Works, Peugeot 308 GTI, and Volkswagen Golf GTI, but below the all-paw Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R.
Does the title of fastest front-wheel drive vehicle around the Nurburgring make you more interested in the Honda Civic Type R? Tell us what you think in the comments below.