The Honda Civic Type R has been smashing records and utterly dominating the front-wheel-drive category since it made its debut in 2017. It’s such a good performer that that’s mainly what any car enthusiast thinks about when you utter the words “Civic Type R.” And while it’s still a Civic Hatchback underneath all of that go-fast jazz, we have inadvertently overlooked that fact during the time we’ve spent with the car thus far. Which made us think: The Honda Civic Type R really is just an engineer’s plaything.
The Civic Type R doesn’t have torque steer
One of the more popular engineering marvels that Honda pulled off when creating the Civic Type R was virtually eliminating any torque steer. What is torque steer? Torque steer is when there is a lot of power sent through the front drive wheels that the steering wheel jerks, almost like it’s steering itself. Hence the name.
If you ever get the chance to drive a Mazdaspeed3, you will know what it is the first time you “send it” through all of the gears. However, with the Civic Type R, Honda somehow worked its magic and tuned out the annoying self-steering issue. In actuality, the Honda engineers incorporated the use of a limited-slip differential to even out the power between the wheels, then they used wider wheels and moved the steering axis closer to the centerline of the wheels.
Apparently, good suspension geometry leads to more even power distribution, which equals less torque steer. Having driven the car for long periods of time over the past week, we can surely attest to this spectacular wizardry.
2.0-liter turbo engine
Getting to the heart of the matter, the Honda Civic Type R gets its power from a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that puts out 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Since we’re all used to the Hyundai Veloster N and Subaru WRX STi figures, that might sound like something to sneeze at. However, it’s not, as the Civic Type R has handily beaten those cars in multiple performance categories including 0 to 60 mph runs and quarter-mile tests, according to Motortrend’s testing.
What makes the powerplant so special is that it utilizes a lot of the same F1 technology, such as oil cooling galleries to cool the forged pistons and hollowed camshafts that reduce weight. According to Engineering Explained, even the spark plugs are smaller for extra combustion efficiency and lighter weight. It definitely seems like the engineers at Honda had a heyday when designing the engine.
Adaptive Damping System
For the 2020 model year, Honda updated the Civic Type R’s suspension in order to make it a terror on the track while remaining comfortable enough for the daily drive. As such, the engineers stiffened up some of the bushings in the front and rear suspension components and refined the car’s Adaptive Damping System to react to road imperfections and changes 10 times faster than before.
While we can’t attest to the difference between the updated model and an older one, we can at least tell you that the updated suspension does exactly as its described. Which means that in “comfort mode,” the car soaked up a lot of bumps and dips with the cushiness of a regular Civic, but in the “sport” and “+R” modes, we noticed that the ride was much more firm and the car gripped the road much better.
It’s still a Civic
Now that we detailed some of the most important engineering aspects of the 2020 Honda Civic Type R, we can see that it was indeed a great exercise in engineering. But despite all of that, we like the fact that it’s still a Civic that can haul you and your friends around in relative comfort on the way to go do a Costco run. Just don’t be surprised if you get hit up for a stoplight race along the way. But if you do, at least you know that the Civic Type R is well-equipped to handle almost any type of spirited driving.