While we were massively excited to see the reveal of the new FK8 Civic Type R at the Geneva Motor Show this week, Honda remained fairly coy on quite a few technical details. Since we love geeking out on tech stuff here at CT, we couldn’t just leave it there.
We arranged to spend a little bit of time with Hideki Kakinuma, the Type R’s Assistant Project Lead at the show, to see what we could find out…
You could be forgiven for expecting more than just a 10bhp boost from the Type R’s 2.0-litre inline-four, carried over from the FK2. With wider tyres and a newly developed chassis, Kakinuma-san confirms the FK8 “could take much more horsepower,” but lists two reasons why it doesn’t have any more.
Firstly, with the short development time between the FK2 and FK8, there hasn’t exactly been a lot of time to overhaul the VTEC turbo lump. Secondly, Honda reckons 316bhp is more than enough, essentially because the overall package is enough of an improvement to negate the need to pump a load more power through the front wheels.
“Since we could design the platform and the suspension from scratch, the lateral dynamics of the car have seen a huge improvement compared to the outgoing Civic Type R,” Kakinuma-san explains, adding: “A total output of 320PS is absolutely appropriate and sufficient in order to realise that increase in performance”.
That’s all fine and dandy, but what about in the future? More power could indeed be on the agenda, it turns out. Kakinuma-san tells us: “Of course we will work on further development of the current engine, and that will result in a higher output, a better response”. We’re sure 316bhp will indeed be “appropriate and sufficient,” but an even more powerful Type R isn’t something we’ll grumble about.
Just like the FK2, the FK8 features a mechanical limited-slip differential, plus a dual axis strut front suspension setup. As a reminder, the latter feature is similar to Ford’s ‘Revoknuckle’ system, separating out the steering and suspension forces to reduce torque steer.
The more important changes are at the rear, where the Type R features a fully independent, multi-link suspension setup, as is the case with the standard hatchback. No torsion beam shenanigans going on here - the first time since the EP3 Type R.
A detail of the Type R’s design many have picked up on is the unusual exhaust layout. Gone is the quad exit of the FK2, replaced with three centre-mounted pipes, with a smaller one in the middle of the trio. So is it just an aesthetic thing? Were the designers massive Ferrari F40 fanboys? Well no, actually. To explain what it does, let’s hand over to Kakinuma-san:
“The three tail pipes each have a function. At low RPM exhaust gas is streaming out of all three pipes in order to create a very dynamic, ‘roaring’ sound. At mid and high RPM, the middle pipe creates a certain negative pressure, which reduces the booming noise in the cabin. We can amplify the exhaust sound, but by controlling the exhaust flow we can also reduce the noise we want to avoid in certain operational conditions.”
This is jolly good news. The outgoing Type R didn’t have a particularly exciting exhaust note, and on long motorway journeys, the booming of the pipework did get particularly irksome. So if it’s been reduced, it’s another sign - along with the much improved trip computer system found on the standard Civic hatch and the new comfort driving mode - that the new Type R will be much, much easier to live with than the old one.
The last Type R was notable for being the only car in its class to have an aero package advanced enough to provide negative lift. So what about now? We have good news on that front, with Kakinuma-san confirming that’s the case once again, and also that negative lift “has been further increased”.
So, if we have more downforce this time, that must mean more drag, and therefore a lower top speed, right? Thankfully not. “Increasing the downforce by sacrificing the drag is something anybody can do, but that wouldn’t be very smart,” Kakinuma-san says, adding: “We put all our emphasis on improving the drag to lift balance, so we can increase the downforce but still reduce the drag”.
While we were merely told that the top speed hasn’t decreased, with better aero and more power, it seems inevitable that the new Type R will at least be slightly faster than the old one at the top end. We’ll know exactly how fast when Honda releases performance figures at launch.
Here’s an important one for all you heel and toe fanatics who might have gotten a little worried at the mention of the FK8’s new rev matching feature: you can turn it off. Not only that, but we’re told you can turn it off in each of the car’s three driving modes.
Hopefully that’s given you a little more to go on than the initial announcement. For the rest of the details, and what this crazed hot hatch is like to drive, we’ll have to wait until the summer.