Nearly two years ago, the previous-generation Honda Civic Type R clocked a lap time of 7:50.63 around the Nürburgring to establish a new record for the fastest front-wheel-drive production car. But that record was short-lived as a year later, Volkswagen’s GTI Clubsport S did it in just 7:49.21 and later again in 7:47.19. Now, Honda has snatched its crown back from its German rival with the all new Civic Type R setting a new record of 7:43.8, which is a good three seconds better than the Golf’s achievement and seven seconds better than its predecessor.

Since the feat was achieved during the final phase of the model’s development testing, a development car was used but with technical specifications “representative of the final production car.” Honda attributes the new record to a combination of factors, including the 320bhp, 400Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, the new six-speed manual transmission with lower ratios, the aerodynamic package, the high-rigidity body frame that’s 16kg lighter than the previous model’s and stiffer by 38 per cent and the new multi-link rear suspension. “The cornering speed achieved in the new Type R is higher because the car features a wider track and tyres, a longer wheelbase, new multi-link suspension in the rear and optimised aerodynamics that improves stability,” says Ryuichi Kijima, lead chassis engineer for the Honda Civic Type R. “For example, drivers typically enter the corner after Metzgesfeld at around 150 kph. Even at this medium-speed corner, the speed is around 10kph higher due to the new Type R’s excellent stability. So, with improved cornering performance, we can increase the speed throughout the lap, helping the new Type R to achieve a much quicker lap time,” he adds.

The car had a full floating roll cage installed, the extra weight of which was compensated for by the deletion of the infotainment system and rear seats, while the tyres were road legal track-focused units. Production of the new Civic Type R soon at Honda’s UK plant in Swindon, which is the global manufacturing hub for the tenth generation Civic hatchback.