So here we are… Day 1 on our EPIC Type R road trip and after collecting our “Championship White” 306 BHP hot hatchback in Frankfurt, and attempting to sleep like an excited child on Christmas Eve, it was time to hit the road. A quick blast along some derestricted autobahn was the best wakeup call and the perfect way to the get those Type R juices flowing. I have spent a lot of time with this car since its launch last year, but this 1,500 mile pilgrimage across Europe will by far be its biggest test. Not to mention a visit to the Nurburgring.
I was quickly reminded of this cars performance potential as a generous prod of the throttle resulted in a torque fuelled response from the 2.0 litre turbocharged VTEC engine. With a respectable 0-62 MPH time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 167 MPH, this mean machine doesn’t hang about. As I slay German executive saloons for breakfast the days task dawned upon me. I was soon to take on the infamous Nurburgring, a track that is something of a mecca for petrol heads. I have had plenty of time out on race tracks over the years, but I have never driven “the green hell” on anything other than a simulator.
We arrived and for a perfectly respectable sum you can go out and spend some time on what is said to be the most challenging environment for a car. I knew full well that the car was ready for it, but was I? Joining the line of Porsche 911, Nissan GT-R, and a vast array of others, a nervous excitement set in. It was all a bit surreal, but then reality hit home. I was only 2 minutes from entering the track when it was abruptly shut. Some poor devil in a BMW 3 Series had run out of talent and so the tension began to build all over again.
At last my time arrived. Eager to begin my baptism of fire I punched the +R button. Stiffer dampers, weightier steering, new torque mapping, all set the 2016 Honda Civic Type R on edge. This is the same configuration used to set this cars once record holding lap time. The barrier lifted and I was off like a scolded cat. Whilst all wheel drive would arguably help this car launch faster, once in second gear it pulls like a train! Unrelenting acceleration fired me down the main straight. As I hit the first series of apexes I noticed that there was much less run-off than expected. The track narrows as the corners pinch the tarmac tight and barriers are within arms reach. It is a real adrenaline rush and also something of a workout. You are desperately computing the best racing line, whilst remembering the next corner, managing the gearing, feeling for grip, judging the weight transfer, and keeping a close eye on your mirrors. The Type R willed me on to push harder and faster, it begged to be punished. If this was hell then the Civic is the devil as it felt right at home. Those magnificent Brembo brakes with so much feel and stopping power meant late braking was easy to achieve. Onwards we push through the vast elevation changes and landmarks such as the Karussell. This track is very physical and a real challenge. Down the main straight and that was it, I had lost my Nurburgring virginity.
After a few more laps and chatting to people in the car park, we headed back across Germany eastward to reach our overnight stop. Darkness descended as our Type R pack prowled the landscape. The most almighty thunder and lightning storm fractured the sky and rumbled around the Type R. The cooling rain and beautiful sky show a refreshing reminder that the climate in this part of the world is just as dramatic as the Nurburgring itself.