Though it shouldn’t really come as a surprise, the latest Honda Civic Type R has further solidified its reputation with a lap record at Japan’s most glamorous circuit. Famous for its spot on the Formula 1 calendar and its figure-eight configuration, Suzuka challenges drivers with heavy braking zones, supremely quick sweepers, and a series of fast esses (0:27-0:49) which demands a very neutral vehicle balance.
In the hands of the gifted Super GT racer Takuya Izawa, the 2021 Civic Type R Special Edition demonstrates all these strengths as it rounds the 3.6-mile circuit in 2:23.993: a record for front-wheel drive production cars. Most notable is the excellent composure in the fast stuff—the minimum speed of 99 miles per hour through 130R (2:05) is something to behold.
Some Subtle Suspension Alterations
Much of that speed comes from several critical modifications made to this limited-edition version; only 600 of which will be made. Among those are lighter BBS wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, dampers optimized for the new wheel/tire package, recalibrated steering for finer control and feedback, and further weight reduction of 28.2 pounds through measures such as strategic reduction of sound-deadening materials.
The same 2.0-liter VTEC Turbo engine sends 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels through a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission and limited-slip differential. Thanks in part to the dual axis strut front suspension, there is no torque-steer whatoever. Deploying that power out of hairpins is no simple issue here.
While the latest Civic Type R might be a far cry from the high-revving, pared-down racing cars from the road from the early nineties, the way this new interpretation of the proven formula is unsurprisingly effective. Turbocharged torque, a hint of aerodynamic grip, a benign balance, and traction which rivals that of a four-wheel drive machine makes it capable at tracks like Suzuka. If it can perform well there, a car with these qualities, perhaps with a little adjustment, can likely handle the slower tracks just as well.