Unlike most next-generation models, it's fair to say our biggest hope for the new Honda Civic Type R is that it essentially mimic what the last car did. Sure, it'll look a bit different (probably not a bad thing) but the outgoing hatchback was so downright lovely to drive in virtually all conditions that we'd probably be content for the manufacturer to make no effort at all in tweaking its dynamic attributes. These were class-leading last year; no reason to think they wouldn't be now.
But that's not how Honda works. Especially when it comes to the Type R, one of the few cars which still permits its engineers to stretch their go-faster legs. Hence the fanfare surrounding its new front-drive lap record at Suzuka, a record previously help by the outgoing Limited Edition variant. Setting a new benchmark during the final development phase was doubtless a key internal target - after all, Honda has been sending performance cars round there for 60 years.
Nevertheless, it's probably a good sign that its 2mins 23.1secs record is just a 0.873 second improvement over its predecessor. It suggests that Honda has been carefully refining its current formula rather than fitting a nitrous switch. Helpfully, the manufacturer has already confirmed that the Type R will be unsullied by hybrid assistance (unlike the rest of the new lineup) which makes it the last bastion of the VTEC-engined Civic.
Whether or not it has opted to mildly upgrade the output of the 320hp 2.0-litre unit remains to be seen. Again, we'd settle for a repeat performance. Although if Honda has any ambition for setting another benchmark - say, the FWD lap record at the Nurburgring (another title its predecessor once held) - you'd imagine it needing a bit more straight-line speed. But that's for another day. For now we just know the new Type R is no slouch at Suzuka. Expect full details on everything else come summertime.
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