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As a hot hatch fan, it’s been excruciating waiting for the 2023 Honda Civic Type R’s official launch. And the repeated teasers of its Nürburgring testing have helped and hurt in equal measure. But those teases haven’t revealed many concrete details about the next-gen Type R besides its appearance, Brembo brakes, and manual transmission. However, in breaking a Suzuka Circuit lap record, the 2023 Type R also confirmed something about itself.

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R shatters the Limited Edition’s FWD Suzuka Circuit lap record

A red-camouflaged 2023 Honda Civic Type R prototype setting a Suzuka Circuit lap record
2023 Honda Civic Type R prototype setting a Suzuka Circuit lap record | Honda

Japan’s Suzuka Circuit has seen its fair share of speedy cars, both road-legal ones, and full-on race cars. And as is the case with many other tracks, the Suzuka lap record list documents not just history, but the evolution of performance. What was once the realm of supercars is now reachable by ‘mere’ hot hatches.

The Honda Civic Type R proved that quite well when it went around Suzuka faster than a Ferrari F40 in 2020. Admittedly, that was the lightweight Limited Edition, but the point still stands. As does the 2021 Type R LE’s performance, which was enough to set another lap record in Australia. And up until now, it was enough to make the 2021 Type R LE the fastest front-wheel-drive car to lap Suzuka.

However, the 2021 Civic Type R is no longer the FWD Suzuka lap record holder. Instead, the crown now belongs to…the 2023 Honda Civic Type R. During a recent testing session, the 2023 CTR prototype lapped the 3.6-mile circuit in 2:23.120. The outgoing model needed 2:23.993 to do the same deed.

So, the old king is dead, long live the king. But the new lap record doesn’t just show how much faster the 2023 Type R is than the old car. It also disproves a long-standing rumor.

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R won’t have AWD

As noted earlier, a few 2023 Honda Civic Type R details have trickled out over the last few months. We know it’s still turbocharged, rocks a big wing and Brembo brakes, and its interior still features red sports seats. However, we still don’t know exactly how much power it makes, or even how big its engine is. And there’s been a consistent rumor that the next-gen CTR will have a trick electric rear axle, The Drive reports.

As of this writing, Honda still hasn’t released those horsepower figures. But note, the 2023 Civic Type R prototype didn’t break any old Suzuka lap record: it broke the FWD one. That’s right, the next-gen CTR remains a FWD hot hatch.

In addition, while much of the interior shown in the onboard footage is blurred out, the few clear bits show the Type R borrows a lot from the 2022 Honda Civic’s cabin. Furthermore, it appears Honda redesigned the well-bolstered seats somewhat. But given they kept the test driver snug and safe, they should be just as good if not better than the already excellent old ones.

Will it be just as fast on the street?

The rear 3/4 view of a red-camouflaged 2023 Honda Civic Type R prototype setting a Suzuka Circuit lap record
2023 Honda Civic Type R prototype setting a Suzuka Circuit lap record rear 3/4 | Honda

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From the sounds of things, Honda doesn’t just want to set lap records at Suzuka. The track record announcement video ends with the statement, “Now, on to the World Stage.” Perhaps all that Nürburgring testing will end with another FWD record, The Drive muses.

Admittedly, track driving is somewhat different from street driving. But remember, the 2023 Honda Civic Type R beat the track-focused Limited Edition on a track. In other words, the standard version of the hot hatch beat the sharper, performance-minded version in the conditions the latter was designed for. That bodes well for the 2023 Type R’s chances on the street.

And now, to wait until it finally gets there.

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