Driving

the peterborough examiner Thursday, June 15, 2017

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SECTION C

Type R numbers speak volumes

First Look: 2018 Honda Civic Type R

Driving.ca Graeme Fletcher Driving.ca TOCHIGI, Japan ? Every year Honda throws open the gates to its usually top-secret proving grounds in Tochigi, Japan. It is an exposition designed to highlight the things the company has coming down the road. Sometimes the subject is a long way out (think NSX); others are on the near horizon. This year, two of the highlighted vehicles will hit Canadian roads before the end of the year. The first was the Honda Civic Type R. The tester was a righthand-drive Japanese-spec unit, but it spoke loudly to what the lucky owner can expect when it lands in Canada. The numbers speak volumes: the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder makes 315 horsepower (expect 306 hp in Canada) and 295 pound-feet of torque anywhere between 2,500 and 4,500 rpm. It is a broad torque plateau that arrives with virtually no turbo lag. Fire that lot through a slick six-speed manual gearbox, a limited-slip differential and the front wheels wearing P245/30R20 tires, and you have a veritable rocket. While the stiffer chassis and multi-link rear suspension brings a great deal of dynamism, it?s the addition of an adaptive suspension that improves things the most. It corners as flat as gravy on a plate and it responds instantly to steering input. There are three drive modes ? Comfort, Normal and +R ? and each changes the responsiveness of the vehicle. The first lap around the handling track was in Comfort. It was fast under foot and the steering was crisp, but in a relaxed fashion, as was the suspension. In +R the steering and suspension firm noticeably and the throttle came alive. It also changed the rev-matching strategy. In Comfort, it was a gentle matching affair aimed at getting the engine and downshift on the same page. In +R, it came in with more authority and imparted some wanted engine braking during the downshift. Once through the corner, the gearbox?s close-ratio gate and progressive clutch allowed rapid upshifts; the Brembo brakes then allow the driver to go deeper into a corner, knowing that the stopping power is going to be there to scrub off excess speed. The latter is something the Type R did very nicely around the handling loop. For the driver, the thick-rimmed steering wheel and sport bucket seats speak to the speed of the car. While the seat design proved to be perfect for me, it will not be for everyone, as the deep-dish bolstering will pinch. If there is a nit to pick, it is the exhaust tone, at least based on the drive and listening to the engine being revved up; it does not speak loudly enough to the fury found in the rest of the car. Much of the learning from the development of the Type R has been transferred into the Dynamic Study Civic sedan; it falls under a simple banner that says the car should ?Drive as intended.? Increasing the bending stiffness of the body by 57 per cent and the torsional strength by 25 per cent brings a better base for the suspension and a stiffer platform for the revised steering. In the test mule, the rear suspension had also been tweaked to improve response. On the drive, the steering was faster to obey input and the brake pedal was easier to modulate at speed. The 1.5-L turbocharged four-cylinder, married to an eight-speed twin-clutch transmission certainly brought a high degree of alacrity. The much anticipated Civic Type R is slated to land in Canada in late fall. Pricing and final specifications will be announced closer to that time, although expect around $40K for the Type R.

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