The next-generation Honda Civic Type R might not even be finished yet, but that hasn’t stopped the Japanese brand smashing the front-wheel drive lap record at the Suzuka Circuit.
Even in prototype form it managed a 2 minute 23.120 second lap, almost a full second (0.873 seconds to be precise) faster than the outgoing FK8 Civic Type R Limited Edition. Honda has even released a video of the lap around Japan’s Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit to really rub its rivals’ chin splitters in it.
What’s perhaps most impressive of all is the fact this appears to be a taste at what the standard next-generation CTR will be capable of, yet the Limited Edition it just beat had a series of mods aimed at boosting its on track performance.
Just 1,020 of the special Type R Limited Edition models were sold, with only 20 for the UK - which are easy to spot thanks to their bright Sunlight Yellow paintwork. Honda shaved 47kg from the car’s weight, even going so far as to remove the air conditioning system, which we’re still not convinced is ever a good idea.
The infotainment system was chopped too (but the stereo controls remained), and a set of Forged BBS alloy wheels were fitted, shod with Michelin Cup 2 tyres instead of the boggo Continentals. While it didn’t have any extra power, the suspension was also revised to take account of the reduced weight - in other words, it feels even more focused.
And yet JDM fans, it looks like the next car will be faster still, all with a nicely cooled cabin and your favourite tunes playing via Apple CarPlay. Photos of the car during its laps show it still has three mid-mounted exhaust pipes, along with a high-set and fairly massive rear wing. Like the outgoing model it also looks wide for a hot hatch thanks to blistered wheel arches filled with low-profile tyres and plentiful sticky rubber.
The hot lap video shows the car bobbing in corners - a sure sign that it’s generating eye-watering levels of grip and its adaptive suspension has a properly firm track mode. There’s still some compliance, though, evidenced by the test driver hopping over a few kerbs during the record lap.