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One of the highlights of the Civic Type R is its manual gearbox. Not just the shifter itself, because a good manual is a full-body experience, the action of the lever, the shape of the shifter, the lack of rev hang, and a nicely calibrated clutch pedal all contribute to something very special. The Type R (along with other manual-shift 10th-gen Civics) almost nail it. But there is one important element missing: heel-toe downshifting.
Normally, this would be an issue that isn’t solvable without some creative solutions like adding a throttle pedal extender or just bending the brake pedal closer to the throttle. Generally, brake pedals are still made of metal like cast iron because of the forces the brake pedal can see. In the world of the CTR, two aftermarket companies make a bolt-on spacer: Honda tuner Acuity Instruments, and Perrin. I decided to try both of them.
Honda is very proud of its rev-matching system in the CTR. I prefer not to use it, not because it isn’t amazing—it is. I just like the full experience of driving manual and feeling my mistakes. I applaud Honda for the accessibility but when it comes to rowing my own gears, heel-toe downshifting is crucial, even while driving normally.
The issue with the CTR is that the throttle pedal is in the wrong place for optimal heel-toe. It’s much too far away from the brake pedal in all directions. It’s too close to the firewall so my ankle can’t quite twist to reach it even when braking and it’s too close to the center console so my foot slips if my foot isn’t positioned just right. It’s a really annoying and strange oversight in such a thoroughly developed performance car.
I tried Acuity’s throttle pedal solution first primarily because of its fame in the Honda community and reputation for quality parts. For $97 through a local tuner shop, I had it in my garage. Examining the part shows a fairly high-quality piece with plenty of little details like the torque specs printed on the spacer and Acuity’s signature pink washers. I did register some concern with how thick the spacer is, meaning that the pedal would get a lot closer to me, perhaps too much.
The spacer has three pedal positions that change the up-down height and left-right distance to the brake pedal. It takes some trial and error to find the optimal position, but the installation itself is relatively easy if in a difficult position. Folks with back problems may have some trouble here, crawling under the Civic’s dash requires some contortion. The pedal is held on with three 12mm nuts and an electrical connector at the top. Remove the pedal, then install the Acuity spacer with the nuts. Then use the Acuity Allen-headed bolts and washers to install the pedal onto the Acuity spacer.
I tried all three pedal positions and couldn’t find a comfortable one. The issue was that the pedal height was always awkward relative to the brake pedal. I found that the spacer would put the throttle pedal on the same plane as the brake, meaning that the brake pedal would be lower than the throttle when braking, making heel-toe incredibly awkward. I found the C position to be the least awkward but none worked for me. I duly removed the Acuity part and trialed the Perrin one.
How Perrin Did It Right
Immediately, the Perrin part is much thinner than the Acuity spacer. Perrin actually specifically lists the pedal distance from the firewall as a point, saying “competitive parts move the throttle pedal too high.” It’s interesting to see an obvious difference between the two parts. This one has just two positions and it’s cheaper at $75.65.
Installing the Perrin spacer is largely the same as the Acuity except for some annoying Dremel work. To fit the spacer, the left-hand stud for the throttle pedal has to be trimmed to a certain height to sit flush with the spacer, an obvious sign of the difference in thickness. Perrin gives you two nuts and a washer to use as a guide for the trimming. I used a metal cutting wheel to do the major cut, then an aluminum oxide tool to file it down to the correct length. That only sort of worked, so I ended up just trimming the stud with the Perrin spacer installed to make sure it would clear. I did end up damaging the nice black finish on the part but I wasn’t too bothered by it.
It was a pain to do but the results were worth it. The Perrin pedal is dead-on perfect in its outermost position, making heel-toe completely intuitive. It’s hard to even tell the car was modified because it’s so invisibly good. The highest compliment I can pay an aftermarket part is that it feels like it should have come from the factory. The Perrin spacer is the one to have for a 10th-generation CTR or Civic Si.
My CTR is getting better with every mod. But since I’m a serial car modder, I can’t help but tinker. Next time around, it’s messing with the shifter mechanism, tuning the car, and finally giving it some more aggressive alignment specs.