Honda Civic Type-R

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Civic Type R

There were initially 2 unofficial versions of the ‘Type R’ – the 1991 EF9 (EF8 – Civic CRX) SiR and the 1992 EG6 SiR II. The former is the first Civic ever to utilise the venerable B16 engine and the renowned helical LSD, with a stripped out interior devoid of luxuries such as power windows and power steering. Another first was the employment of the four wheel double wishbone independent suspension, which gave this sub-1000kg Civic highly adjustable handling on the limit. This inaugural top-of-the range Civic marked Honda’s successes in Formula One, with multiple Constructors’ Championships with the Marlboro McLaren team. The latter EG6 SiR II sang the same luxury-free tune, with a 10hp hike for the B16 engine and a marginally stiffer chassis, better brakes and an updated nineties facade – this time round, the curb weight tipped the scales at just over a ton.

The Civic Type R was officially introduced in Japan in 1997, as an EK9-chassis hatchback, and shared many characteristics with the Integra Type R such as omission of sound deadening and other weight-reduction measures, a hand-ported B16B engine, front limited-slip differential, close ratio gearbox etc. The EK9 B16B engine boasted one of the highest power output per litre of all time for a NA engine at 185ps from a 1.6L sump, which is greater than that of a Ferrari 360 Modena. With a strategically seam welded monocoque chassis, this lithe 3 door hatch gave many competitors with larger price tags, bigger engines and/or more gadgetry a good run for their money. However, this generation of the Civic Type R was not marketed by Honda outside of Japan.

(Note: the EK generation SiR III was released as a mainstream 170ps Civic (EK4) that was available worldwide, and was immensely popular due to its relatively low cost and high performance from both engine and chassis even without the high end treatment such as LSD, close ratio gearbox, race interiors and seam welding.)

In 2001 Honda introduced the next generation of the Civic Type R (EP3) as a unique 3 door hatchback to the UK market, which was manufactured in Swindon, England. This later EDM Civic Type R features a 197hp 2.0L i-VTEC engine (K20A) and the regular Type R treatment of seam welding, close ratio transmission and uprated brakes, but does not include some of the other higher-end features, such as the helical LSD and Recaro race-seats, that were standard in the previous generation. This however, does not pertain to the JDM version of the EP3 (which is also manufactured in Swindon, but shipped to Japan only for some high end fettling), which retains the highly renowned helical LSD similar to that of the EK9. Other differences include more track-oriented chassis and undercarriage settings as compared to the EDM, as well as a 215ps engine with different camshafts and ECU programming. The JDM EP3 is still one of the quickest despite recent challengers such as the Golf Mk5 GTI and Focus ST – it remains highly competitive to even the most high-end of sporty hatchbacks, in the form of the Golf R32, BMW 130, Clio V6 and Alfa Romeo GTA. The EDM is a tad less focused with more relaxed gear ratios and a better torque curve, but is a shade slower in the sprint to the century mark – observers have likened the JDM to a frenzied ever-ready track-happy machine, and the more subtle EDM to a combination of weekend track-toy and cross country GT.

The EDM EP3 was widely acclaimed by motoring journalists across the UK, winning ‘Hot Hatch of the Year’ awards more than once from Top Gear and What Car?. The Civic Type R became a popular alternative for mainstream drivers, with the EDM clocking huge sales numbers. The JDM remained a strictly ‘export-model’ only despite being manufactured in the UK, and is relatively rare outside of Japan. The 2001 release of this CTR, as it is commonly referred to, also indicated Honda’s return to Formula One in almost 10 years as an engine supplier to the Jordan and BAR teams – this eventually led to the full-fledged comeback as a dedicated F1 works team in 2005 with Honda gaining full ownership of BAR. 2004 also saw this hugely successful CTR updated with many improvements – quicker steering, revised suspension settings, HID headlamps (JDM only), lighter flywheel assembly etc; according to Honda literature, this facelifted (FL) model was targeted at addressing customers’ and crtics’ feedback such as that of understeer (due to the front Macpherson strut setup), numb steering response and lack of low end torque.

For the European market, an all new Civic Type R concept based on the 3 door 2006 Civic was announced at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2006, slated for release in March 2007. A new 4-door Type R prototype was also unveiled prior to the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix based on the JDM FD Civic. Honda has announced the new Civic Type R will have a 220ps 2.0L i-VTEC engine – this 5th generation flagship Civic will be the first to be made available in 4-door guise. The most noticeble upgrades are the increase of 5ps over the outgoing EP3, the digital encountrements in the dash/cockpit, and the possible addition of a hydraulic clutch system similar to the Golf GTI’s DSG. Honda has published that there will be a slight increase in the overall kerb weight, but acceleration will remain as quick as the outgoing model due to shorter gearing.civic_type-r_conc_2006_03.jpg
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Scribbled on December 9th 2006 in Honda, Honda Civic Type-R
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