2017 Honda Civic Type R defies the physics of front-wheel drive
Honda's been keeping its best stuff from us for too long.
For 25 years, the company has been making Type R versions of its cars, paired down and track ready, and then releasing them And in Japan, and in Europe, and Australia.
And pretty much everywhere but here.
But not anymore.
Welcome to the 306 horsepower Civic Type R. Honda's first Type R in the US.
The most powerful car the company has ever sold here.
And we're not gonna keep you waiting any longer.
With over 300 horsepower directed just through the front wheels You've probably got a couple of questions on your mind and the first, I'm guessing is your wondering just how bad that under-steer is?
Will this car actually turn?
Well, let's find out.
[SOUND] [LAUGH] The answer is yes, it will turn, it will even over-steer.
The steering is very precise.
The car feels very quick and very nimble.
Once you get to the apex you can put your foot flat to the floor and power right out of the turn.
There's so much grip from those giant 20 inch wheels and tires.
It's pretty incredible.
And yes, if you do exceed the limits of grip in this car it does tend to wash away from the front first.
But even then you could just turn the wheel a little bit more and it's It still finds more grip and pulls you in closer to the apex.
It's really incredible.
It's unlike any other high powered front wheel drive car I have ever driven before.
It's not black magic or the twisted soles of low profile tires that make this happen, it comes down to a variety of factors including a proper helical limited slip differential, a more balanced weight distribution, and a stability control system that brakes the inside wheels.
But don't worry about any of that, just know that it works.
The brakes actually have a really great pedal feel too, they're really firm, very precise, just how I like it.
And after doing lap after lap after lap on a warm day, we haven't had any fading at all.
That's pretty impressive.
The shifter feels great too, as you would expect.
This being a Honda, and this is Honda's first car with active rev matching so you haven't quite perfected your two heel downshifts, don't worry.
The Civic's got you covered.
[SOUND] You've probably got another question on your mind about the nature of this front wheel drive car and that's how bad does the torque steer?
Well, as much as I hate to leave the track We're probably better off testing that on the road.
If you've never driven a high horsepower front drive car before, you may not have been introduced to the distasteful trait called torque steer.
This is, quite simply, a tendency for these cars to try to jerk the steering wheel out of your hands while accelerating.
Various powerful front drivers over the years have mitigated this with various techniques with various degrees of success.
With all that power through the front wheels, Honda engineers had their work cut out for themselves, with the new Type R. All right, first gear, revs, hands off the wheel.
[SOUND] That's pretty impressive, there's not a hint of torque steer in this car.
That's largely thanks to a custom suspension design on the Type R. They've actually given the car custom steering knuckles that move the steering access out to the center of those meaty 20-inch tires.
That means that all the torque generated by this motor is generated right in access with the steering, so there's a lot less force that the steering has to contain.
That with a little magic from the electronic power steering module means not a hing of torque steer.
The steering resistance increases but the feel is a bit muted throughout.
You can��t select different steering settings independent of the drive mode.
The throttle response, exhaust and suspension all change depending on what mode you��re in, and it��s a big difference.
In comfort mode this car is legitimately comfortable.
It's actually really not bad at all.
There's a fair bit of road noise.
But the overall ride quality is much better than the Focus RS.
And it is miles ahead of a Subaru STI.
You could actually cover a fair few miles in this car with Without hating yourself.
That's helped by seats that work both on track and on the road.
A tolerably good sound system.
Support for both Android auto and Apple car play.
While I know some of you will reject a four day layout.
It means you've got plenty of room in the back seats and a ton of cargo space in the hatch.
This car is seriously practical.
But this isn't the first practical Type R. In Japan, even the Accord got the Type R treatment, but all we got in the U.S. was the Integra Type R for just a few scant years.
And that of course, wasn't even sold as a Honda.
As America's first Honda Type R, this Civic has to To make a good impression, a big impression, and that giant wing in the back is certainly hard to miss, the otherwise unassuming Civic silhouette has been augmented by more brakes, [UNKNOWN], and vents than the Ninja Turtle's archnemisis.
But the important thing to note is that all that is functional.
The vents in the front bumper cool the brakes.
You can see the giant intracooler peeking through the bumper as well.
Big side skirts move the air around the car to give you more down force and there are vortex generators on the roof that give you more air over the rear wing and again, more down force.
[SOUND] There's probably one more question you're wondering, and that's how does the Type R stack bar stack up against the Ford Focus RS?
Well if you live somewhere where you need all wheel drive, the Focus is probably still the smarter bet but with better ride quality, greater on track performance, and a starting price, a fully equipped price of $33,900, more than 2 grand cheaper than the Focus, the Civic Type R is shaping up to be 2017's hot hatch to beat.
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