The all-new Honda Civic Type R is set to make its debut in Malaysia very soon. But in order to witness it earlier in person, we flew all the way to Jakarta to witness its unveiling and strike a tit-for-tat session with the guy behind the marque’s latest sporting hot-hatch.
words & photograhy by KEEGAN DORAI & HONDA MEDIA
ow holding the record of being the fastest front-wheel drive car to lap the eminent Nürburgring, Honda is on a roll to give the Asian market a slice of that fun by debuting it at the recently-held Gaikindo motorshow. Being a completely-reengineered variant that somehow overshadows its conventional cousin — the Civic — it hides a line of new tech and trickery in order to take on and beat its closest rivals.
Powered by a potent 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, it musters a well-balanced serving of 307bhp and 400Nm. In a century sprint, it clocks a respectable 5.7 seconds right before topping off at 272km/h. And oh, lets not forget that it’s currently the fastest Civic Type R made so far at subsequently clocking 7min 43.8sec while doing one full lap at the Green Hell.
Exteriorly, the Type R utilises the latest Civic Hatchback’s base. But with added bespoke touches such as wider arches, a redesigned bumper and meaner looking alloys, it also sits on a smooth underbody that’s coupled with vortex generators on the roof and unique airflow points for better aerodynamic performance.
While some Civic Type Rs of the past were designed differently in accordance to certain market demands, this latest incarnation is set under Honda’s latest global strategy. Meaning that for the FK8 as codenamed, everyone will be entitled to the same single model without any differences — no matter where — upon signing that purchase agreement.
Production will be taking place at marque’s landmark Swindon factory in the United Kingdom, and it will be the sole hub slated to cater the global stage. Wearing a price tag of IDR995 million (RM320,000) after gaining the green light entry to the Indonesian automotive sphere, the Civic Type R is predicted to arrive on our shores before 2018.
Situated under that swooping bonnet is a new 2.0-litre VTEC Turbo mill. While it’s designed to operate at a high compression ratio of 9.8:1, the Type R also uses a feature known as the Dual-Variable Timing Control, or Dual-VTC. Though a common feature in most modern-day vehicles, the engineers have fine-tuned the motor to return a near-perfect mix of response, less emissions and better fuel efficiency while enabling the valves to open at a certain directive for better performance.
The six-speed manual transmission utilises a new single-mass flywheel construction in order to better respond. Besides being paired to a helical LSD, the new design also reduces clutch inertia weight by 25 percent. The unique rev-matching function — however — works by aligning the engine speed and the main shaft speed in harmony while up or downshifting. With this feature, the need for heel-and-toeing becomes a rather unneeded skillset at times when you’re tackling your favourite B-road.
The three-tailpipes is not designed just to put up a show without any substance. Apart from enhancing exhaust flow rate by 10 percent, the centre tailpipe is designed to absorb ambient air in while driving at mid-load engine speed. Due to this, it significantly improves refinement and reduces exhaust drone from permeating into the cabin. Best of all, it doesn’t hinder the Civic Type R from producing a sporty exhaust note while you’re driving it at a spirited pace.
Measuring in at 165mm longer, 36mm lower and 2mm wider in comparison to its direct predecessor, the new profile is also gifted with a line of smart aerodynamic-enhancing touches. Added intakes on the bumper, a vortex generator roof-piece and the use of a smooth undercarriage immediately ensures the Civic Type R in combining the best balance when it comes to lift and drag.
Paired to a set of adaptive dampers, the new Civic Type R gets a new driving mode called the +R. Drafted specifically for a more dynamic experience at the wheel, it sharpens throttle response and eradicates excessive buoyancy. This is all done easily through torque-mapping by giving it added pace at lower engine speeds. Steering feel will increase in heft for better feel and feedback, and the reworked dual-axis and multi-link suspension also helps in reducing torque steer.
HONDA CIVIC TYPE R
EVO: The new rev-matching feature is indeed a splendid piece of engineering, but can it be switched off?
Mr. Kakinuma: Yes, you can turn the feature off but it’s best to leave it on as it will return better driving performance.
EVO:What is the minimum fuel requirement for the new Civic Type R?
Mr. Kakinuma: It has to be RON 95, nothing less than that. It will be better if you can fill it up with better fuels with greater quality. Nonetheless, the engine is tuned to accept most RONs made available globally.
EVO: In some markets, the Civic Type R is rated at a higher brake-horsepower rating, why this?
Mr. Kakinuma: We’ve tested the Civic with RON 98 in Japan, but in order to adapt it further, we’ve decided to reduce 10 percent of its power output for countries without RON 98 or 100.
EVO: Have you guys ever tried squeezing out more power from that 2.0-litre Turbo engine?
Mr. Kakinuma: Yes, we did. But in order to preserve reliability, we think that the current performance figure is good enough to return a superb driving experience.
EVO: As you can notice, the trend of hot hatches using dual-clutch transmissions are growing rapidly. Are there any considerations on having one similarly in the near future?
Mr. Kakinuma: There has been some discussions about it and we know it will be a great step in garnering more buyers into the party. But sticking to our traditional roots, we think that the Type R is best suited with a traditional and yet fun six-speed manual transmission for now. Just like how its predecessors we’re renowned for.
Our Questions To The Man
MR. HIDEKI KAKINUMA
Chief Engineer and Assistant Large Project Leader for the Civic Type R