2017 Honda Civic Type R Track Tested!
Honda Civic Type R feels equal parts urgent and composed at Ridge Motorsports Park.
Make no mistake, the Honda Civic Type R is the halo car of the brand, even more so then the NSX. The Type R nameplate carries lofty expectations, especially in the United States where said nameplate has long been forbidden fruit. Enthusiasts rush to grab Type Rs off the showroom as quickly as they can, before someone else does. Is the hype justified, or is it just that, hype?
Fortunately, Honda flew a batch of media personalities, myself included, to Washington to experience Civic Type R. Rural Washington is beautifully serene, greenery envelopes everything. After hopping behind the helm, I was piloting a Championship White Civic Type R towards Ridge Motorsports Park. The greenery passes by quickly, and effortlessly, in the Type R. The satellite navigation kept me from straying too far off the path, and soon the Type R and I had arrived. Just in time, too, catching the rising sun as it rose behind the CTR.
Wow. Championship White is the best color for the R, hands down. For reasons of both brand heritage and purely on the basis of aesthetics, Champ White is the way to go. Do yourself a favor and double click those images, they’re desktop sized. It’s easy to take great pictures when the subject looks like this. With the FK8 bathing in the early morning light the changes from the standard Civic hatch become apparent. The broadened shoulders, wider hips and lowered stance make for the most aggressive Honda design to date. The Civic Type R is no shrinking violet.
It’s time to hit the track.
Ridge Motorsports Park is an incredible facility. It’s also incredibly new, having only been around for a few years now. Several of the prominent areas on track are replicas of famous corners from other circuits. Specifically, keen-eyed viewers will note that the Nurburgring’s Carousel (albeit as a right-hander), and Laguna Seca’s infamous Corkscrew make appearances in the video. There are several others, as well, and I will leave it to you to spot them.
Each driver was given two 20-minute sessions with the Type R, with the explicit instructions to not pass other drivers. My inner track day bro was foaming at the mouth, but what can you do? The first session was spent learning where the track went and wondering how fun the Type R would be at one of L.A.’s tracks, like Buttonwillow.
When going slowly, the Type R struck me as a great learner car for someone wanting to learn how to drive a fast front-wheel drive car on track. The seats are both supremely comfortable, and cosseting. You won’t slip around in the seat when driving hard. The seating position is also excellent, able to get nice and low, offering great helmet room. Similarly, the controls all fall to hand in a very natural way. I never missed a shift or had to hunt for any of the controls. At low speeds the Type R has an almost lackadaisical personality, as if it, too, is wondering what the hold up is.
If you bodge your braking zone or are a bit slow at the wheel when finding your apex, it’s all good, the Civic Type R has your back.
The second session is when things got fun. By this point, the pace had picked up as everyone knew where they were going. The first flying lap was telling, with the Type R easily cresting 125 mph down the front straight. The lackadaisical demeanor was gone, the Civic Type R was voracious. I could feel it coming alive, and it wanted to play.