When announcing the return of the Civic Type R back in 2012, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito revealed the new-generation hot-hatch was being developed with the goal of becoming the fastest front-wheel-drive car around the ’Ring.
But Honda Motors Europe head of public relations and consumer affairs John Kingston replied somewhat sheepishly today when asked by CarAdvice if the new Civic Type R could better the Seat Leon Cupra 280’s blistering sub-eight-minute lap to claim the record around the famous German circuit.
“The statement was made in September 2012… Things change,” Kingston said.
When Ito originally set his team the goal, the 195kW/360Nm Renault Megane RS265 held the record for a front-wheel-drive vehicle around the 20.8km Nordschleife circuit, having stopped the clock at 8:07.79 in 2011.
Volkswagen-owned Spanish car maker Seat officially raised the bar just hours ago, however, announcing a time of 7:58.44 for its 206kW/350Nm Leon Cupra 280 hot-hatch – wiping almost 10 seconds off Renault’s longstanding benchmark.
With the task of claiming the record now significantly harder, Kingston said the Japanese manufacturer would still “try to deliver” on Ito’s goal.
“The car’s been tested there, we’ve spent the time there, I’m sure we’ll be going back there before launch, so there’s an ambition there for the team,” he said.
“We want to create some records.”
Honda unveiled the Civic Type R concept in Geneva today (pictured above), providing the world with its clearest look yet at the new hot-hatch ahead of its planned global launch in 2015.
A massive rear wing for improved downforce, enlarged upper and lower front grille intakes for additional engine cooling, and broader front and rear wheel arches to accommodate wide 20-inch tyres set the concept well apart from the regular Civic hatch on which it’s based.
Honda maintains the Civic Type R’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine will produce in excess of 206kW of power – at least matching the Cupra 280, as well as the likes of the Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R, which are detuned to that exact figure for Australia’s ‘hot climate’ conditions.
Honda Australia is hopeful of introducing the new Civic Type R to our market as soon as it is available, targeting a 2015 local launch.