The latest Honda Civic has been a wonderful return to form for Honda, who made its bones on smartly designed, efficient and fun-to-drive small cars. Honda’s new Civic Type R takes the latest generation models intrinsic goodness, adds some crazy anime-inspired boy-racer bodywork, and seriously upgrades the powertrain and suspension to match. The CTR, as it’s known among enthusiasts, is a very different sort of Civic, a high-performance hatchback designed to take on the Ford Focus RS, Volkswagen Golf R and Subaru’s venerable WRX STI.
Unlike those cars, however, the Civic Type R is actually still front-wheel drive. With 306 horsepower from its 2.0-liter turbo four, not being AWD sounds like a recipe for torque steer, but Honda’s suspension and driveline engineers have proven to be quite clever. This is one of the finest-handling and most entertaining front-wheel drive cars ever made. Starting at $34,100 before options and delivery, the 2018 Honda Civic Type R isn’t cheap, but it is electrifying.
Honda has an ulterior motive with the . That's not to say there isn't a market for a lighter, sharper, limited-run , of course. But Honda's got a special goal for this car that doesn't really involve you, dear customer.
Let's back up real quick. After the Type R launched in 2017, Honda used it to set a blistering 7-minute, 43.8-second lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, making this Civic the fastest front-wheel-drive production car to run the infamous German course. But then the Renault Megane RS Trophy-R came along and trounced the Type R's record, beating the Civic by four whole seconds. When the Type R Limited Edition debuted earlier this year, a Honda executive told me it was born out of. And following the Type R LE's -- where it beat the Megane Trophy-R, by the way -- Honda's pretty confident the 'Ring crown will soon belong to the Civic once again.
In order to shed time while shredding laps, Honda opted to cut weight rather than boost power. The 2.0-liter turbo I4 carries over from the base Type R unchanged, producing 306 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. The 2021 LE's six-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential, suspension hardware and Brembo front brakes are all identical to those on the 2020 Type R, too.
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