Honda’s Civic Type-R sizzles in Clark
The rumors started early last year. Honda would be bringing in a limited run of Honda Civic Type-Rs.
Among the motoring media, the rumors had started even earlier, which was in late 2015 at the Tokyo Motor Show where then Honda Cars Philippines big boss Toshio Kuwahara hinted that Honda, enjoying a resurgence in brand popularity and demand, might soon have a halo model shining over the rest of Honda’s model range.
Fast forward to late 2017, and when Honda announced the official availability of 100 units of the Honda Civic Type-R, the order books were closed off after only 48 hours with more people clamoring for units as they had failed to make their reservations sooner.
Who would have thought a Honda Civic, costing just a shade under P3 million, would sell so quickly, right?
To celebrate the sales success of Honda’s Civic Type-R, HCPI held a track day to get owners’ first-hand experience behind the wheel of their very potent vehicles on track with expert tuition from past champions like the Ramirez brothers George and Louie and fellow champion Jojo Silverio, people who had extensive racing experience with Honda Civics in the past.
So, what makes the Civic Type-R special?
The Type-R designation is given to the highest performing variant of Honda’s model range.
The NSX, the Integra, Accord and, of course, the Civic have all received this special badge of honor.
The Type-R is a high-performance, track-focused version of an otherwise normal family car. The fifth generation Civic Type-R (codenamed FK8) is no different.
Based on the European 5-door hatchback chassis, the Civic Type-R has a stiffer body which improves handling and stability.
A 2.0-liter turbocharged version of the venerable K20 engine is utilized, and pumps out 310 hp and 400 Newton meters of torque.
Power is channeled through the front wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission equipped with a limited slip differential to help prevent torque-steer, and put all that power and torque to the ground.
There’s also a rev-matching feature to help smoothen downshifts, but the closely stacked pedals make heel-and-toe downshifting very easy and intuitive.
The suspension utilizes an independent multi-link rear set-up, with a Macpherson strut front suspension that has an ingenious dual axis strut.
The day started out with breakfast, followed by a short speech from HCPI president and general manager Noriyuki Takakura who made the surprise announcement that Honda Cars Philippines is targeting to bring in an additional batch of Civic Type-Rs following on the model’s runaway success.
HCPI will try to bring in at least 100 more units, if not more. And HCPI might offer more colors aside from the Championship White and Rallye Red.
Expect the units to make it to local shores within the year, all the way from Honda’s Swindon factory in the UK.
The first driving activity was slalom and braking exercises where Honda owners, along with select media representatives, were given a chance to sample the Type-R’s agility and braking prowess.
The large Brembo brakes were unfazed through the braking exercises, and the equally massive 20-inch Continental Tires, sized 245/40R20, gripped surprisingly well through the entire morning.
The second set of activities involved guided lapping sessions around Clark International Speedway.
Forty Honda Civic Type-R owners and around 100 or so guests took to the track, divided into groups of eight cars with driving instructors leading them.
The track was divided into two sections, and each section was lapped twice to give owners and drivers a feel.
We also stepped out of the cars on each corner to allow our driving instructor, in this case, Louie Ramirez, to explain the intricacies of each corner, dividing it up into braking, turn-in, clipping point or apex, corner exit and acceleration points to get to the most speed through the corner.
It was tedious, but well worth it. By the time we had finished a short 5-minute lecture on each corner, we were slowly increasing our pace, going faster and faster through the turns, and finally, lapping the entire Clark International Speedway, approaching almost 200 kilometers by the braking point at turn 1.
To minimize accidents, the instructors had set up a chicane on the final turn prior to the start/finish straight, which slowed us down to 30 km/h or so as this corner is the most dangerous section, usually taken flat-out by race cars and the more experienced track drivers.
So how did the Civic Type-R drive? Brilliantly.
The Civic Type-R drives neat and tidy even on the limit, and with three persons on board.
Break-away feel and progression are very impressive, and the Civic manages its admittedly hefty 1,405 kg weight well on quick transitions, particularly through the series of low-to-medium speed 90-degree corners of the Clark International Speedway.
The Civic handles flat through the high-speed double-apex corners and hairpins, with very fluid and precise steering feel through its electrically assisted power steering.
The brakes are powerful, but crucially, offer excellent modulation and feel with fade-free performance, even stomping down on them repeatedly at 85-90 percent driving on track, lap after lap.
Trail-braking was easy, and even in +R mode, the Civic feels benign, like it’s on your side as it urges you to push harder.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough seat time as the final session of the day was an open lapping session for Civic Type-R owners only.
Overall, a great and memorable day for Honda, the Civic Type-R owners, and select media who had the chance to enjoy and get a small feel of the Civic’s potential.
Here’s hoping we get more time with it, preferably on a challenging piece of mountain road. Watch this space for a full review soon.