Engineering Talk #1 The Pleasure of Driving
The lead engineer for the new Civic Type R explains how his team’s focus was to make the new car offer greater driving pleasure in a wider range of circumstances.
HISTORY OF THE LEGENDARY TYPE R
Hideki Kakinuma, project leader for the development of the sixth-generation Type R joined Honda in 1991, a year before the first ever car to wear the now legendary ‘R’ badge was released.
The car that bore it was the equally famous Honda NSX but Kakinuma uses that car as an example of how, up until now, the Type R models have always included some compromises, “Due to the industry’s self-imposed limits, the NSX Type R engine’s output was the same as the base model, 280PS, which was low compared to the world’s top class sports cars.”
The Type R models that followed it also had their limitations in Kakinuma’s view, “The Integra Type R and Civic Type R that followed were based on affordable mass-produced models, so to gain performance, unnecessary components had to be removed. This meant that the usual comforts had to be sacrificed to build what turned out to be a ‘racing car with license plates.’"
This deep knowledge of the history of Type R models meant that when Kikanuma was offered the chance to create the sixth-generation Civic model, he was determined that no sacrifices would be made. To him this meant that the new car had to appeal to a wider range of owners and provide driving pleasure in a greater set of circumstances – not just at the racetrack – by being more capable in every measure compared to its predecessors. As Kakinuma explains, “The Type RS until now have, I think, sacrificed everyday driving characteristics for high sports performance."
However, outperforming the previous generation was a given and the target to beat was the old car’s 7 minute 50 second Nürburgring laptime. Kakinuma knew that this car was at the limits of what its platform and suspension could do, so to continue to be a world beater the new Civic Type R would have to be a complete rethink, a ‘new era Type R’ as Kakinuma puts it. To his mind, that car needed to be better on the road, despite its prowess at the racetrack.
BETTER IN EVERY WAY
You can find out much more about the engineering and innovation that went into the sixth-generation Civic Type R in this series of articles but the spoiler alert is that it recorded an astonishing 7 minute 43 second Nurburgring laptime at the same time as being more practical and have grand tourer levels of ability compared to the old model.
As Kakinuma puts it, “The new Civic Type R is not just fast, but is a sports model that can be driven with complete confidence, and fills the driver with an overwhelming desire to keep on driving. In this sense, the new Civic Type R is not just a flagship model for the Civic, but symbolizes the car the Honda has dreamed of making.”