8 Ways the Honda Civic Type R TCR Race Car is Better than the Road Car
DAYTONA, Florida-Honda invited us to this year’s BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona, which was the first race for the Civic Type R TCR. For some drivers, this series could be the first rung in the ladder to climb up to higher tiers of racing.
Although the three teams running Honda’s car couldn’t quite surpass all of the mighty Hyundai Veloster N and Audi RS3 TCR cars, the top Civic Type R teams finished comfortably mid pack. Rather than providing extensive factory backing for its teams like Hyundai does, Honda merely affiliates itself with the customers who purchase its cars—it doesn’t sink its own funds into the teams.
As you may recall, we at Automobile kept a Honda Civic Type R in our stable of long-term cars for an entire year, giving us plenty of time to get really familiar with its capabilities while zipping around town or taking longer road trips. While our long-termer was a total sweetheart, and repeatedly confirmed its All-Star status during its tenure, Honda’s race car version of the mega hot hatch is a beast on another, much less street-legal level.
Here are eight ways the Honda Civic Type R TCR is more savage than its road-going sibling.
Ever read an article about a racing version of a street car but then got to the part where it talks about the drivetrain? If you’re like us, it’s a bit saddening when we learn a racecar doesn’t get a bump in power. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Civic Type R TCR. A slew of engine upgrades ratchets the output up to 340 hp (compared to the standard 306 hp) thanks to improvements that include an HPD/Borla downpipe and turbo-back exhaust. The race car Type R also receives an HPD/CSF radiator, auxiliary oil coolers, and HPD cooling ducts. In total, the Civic Type R TCR has just 8.1 pounds to haul around with each horsepower, an improvement of about 2 lbs per horsepower (nearly 20 percent) over the road-going Civic Type R.
Any racecar worth its salt needs beefier suspension than its road-going sibling, and the Civic Type R TCR is no exception. While we here at Automobile love the street car’s three-mode suspension settings, Honda took things a couple steps farther with HPD/Bilstein inverted double adjustable dampers, Eibach race springs, and HPD front camber and caster plates. To further enhance the car’s cornering capabilities, Honda offers its TCR car with a HPD/RV6 rear adjustable stabilizer bar and rear lower arms designed to take race spring rates.
To accompany all of the equipment that helps the Civic Type R TCR get going, Honda provides its race car with some serious stopping power. The front brakes have six-piston calipers, an improvement over the 2019 racecar. Brake rotors remain the same size but instead of being the OEM disc, HPD adds its Girodisc two-piece units. The brake lines and ABS actuator get an upgrade too, and Honda offers the car with varying brake compounds for endurance and sprint racing.
Even more aero
Detractors of the road car will say that it has too many aerodynamic elements and that they wouldn’t want to be seen in this hot hatch on the street. Honda’s taken this aspect of the Type R another step beyond with a massive adjustable wing. It also gets a big front splitter. Unlike the haters, this is a car in which we’d definitely want to be seen.
As a privateer or race team owner, one of the advantages of purchasing a Civic Type R TCR is that J.A.S. Motorsport in Italy builds the car from a body-in-white, which includes the doors and hood. The bodywork is largely made from composite materials, which is also installed ahead of delivery. Naturally, the interior is devoid of sound deadening and normal creature comforts.
Huge transmission upgrades
The transmission is an area where this racecar diverges from its more pedestrian counterpart. We love the slick, short throws from the road car’s manual transmission, but the racecar ditches its six-on-the-floor in favor of a sequential gearbox. The six-speed paddle-shifted transmission still has three-pedals (the clutch helps get the car in gear), but once it’s on the track the driver just needs the throttle and brake pedals.
A big fuel tank
One of our staff’s few gripes with the Civic Type R is that the gas tank isn’t quite where it needs to be for the long haul of a road trip. Whereas the model for the non-racing public can store 12.39 gallons of gas in its tank, the fuel cell in the TCR car is a massive 26.4 gallons, which lasts for about an hour and a half during a race.
Like we said earlier, the car comes prepared and ready to race (pending setup) from J.A.S. Motorsport. Before options, the official sticker price is $ 172,238—and that figure also excludes any export, import, or tariff charges that may apply. Honda offers a bunch of other helpful gear and support for people new to the platform or new to racing, including setup tools, spare parts, an upgraded ABS system, data logging gear, and homologation documents as well. Overall, it’s about as out-of-the-box as racecars get, and we’d bet it’d be challenging to build out one’s own car for a comparable price.