There’s a new King of the ‘Ring. Honda’s legendary Civic Type R, a long-time fan-favorite for its extraordinary performance in a small package, captured the fastest lap for front-drive production vehicles at the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Honda dethroned the Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy-R with a 7:44.881 lap time.
Unfortunately for U.S.-based fans of the Civic Type R, the model that contested the 12.93-mile “Green Hell” isn’t the same as the vehicle currently on sale in the United States. The record-setting Honda is the Type R “S” which boasts a lighter curb weight and other performance upgrades is exclusive for left-hand-drive European markets. Honda ditched air conditioning, parking sensors, cargo net hooks, navigation hardware and a variety of other equipment which amounts to a mild reduction in weight.
Tire compound is just as important as weight reduction when aiming for a record setting lap. The Civic Type R S wore a fresh set of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s that must be ordered through Michelin directly in European markets. Michelin and Honda perfected the Sport Cup 2s after developing the Sport 4S’s — the standard tires on the Civic Type R. Honda noted the joint development of the Sport Cup 2s improved dry grip and handling in relation to standard Sport 4S’s.
An additional nine horsepower further assisted Honda in its record setting lap as European-spec Civic Type R’s gained nine horsepower over its American version — 325 horses versus 316.
Those who are fond of the Nürburgring might ponder how the previous generation Type R’s lap time of 7:43.8 is slower than the record-holding 7:44.9. That would be because the Nürburgring Nordschleife put in place a set of rules in 2019 that required lap records to be held on the new, full-length, 12.93-mile circuit as opposed to the old 12.8-mile variation.
The new track setup now incorporates a short straight previously unaccounted for in lap times, therefore times set before this rule change can’t be compared to new records. While 0.13 miles might seem insignificant, it’s not.
Regardless of track variation and performance modifications, the Civic Type R’s impressive on-track competence and daily drivability makes it a capstone of sorts to the pyramid of front-drive sports cars.