2023 Honda Civic Type R’s Nurburgring Record Used a Modified ‘Lighter Version’

The record-breaking Type R wasn’t one you could get from the factory, let alone here in the States.

byJames Gilboy|
2023 Honda Civic Type R at Nurburgring

Earlier this week, Honda declared it had retaken the front-wheel-drive lap record at the Nürburgring with the 2023 Honda Civic Type R. But the lap's worthiness is now being called into question, as a report from Carscoops alleges the Type R had been altered in way that won't be available from the factory.

The lap in question was completed in 7:44.881, just barely beating out the 7:45.389 record held by the Renault Megane RS Trophy-R. (While technically slower than the previous model's record of 7:43.8, that was reportedly set on a different, slightly shorter course configuration.) But suspicions have arisen that Honda may have derived those decisive tenths of a second from changes to the car it used, which was a special "S Grade" model.

2023 Honda Civic Type R "S Grade" setting the FWD lap record at the Nürburgring. Honda

The Civic Type R S Grade is reportedly a stripper model, ditching its air conditioning, tonneau cover, parking sensors, cargo net hooks, auto-dimming rearview mirror, visor lights, and navigation hardware. It also swaps power mirrors for manual, unheated units, culminating in a modest, but unknown weight reduction. The trim is reportedly available only in left-hand-drive European markets, not in the U.S. or right-hand-drive markets.

According to the automaker's press release in Europe: "The lap time was set using a Type R that is a lighter version of the latest model. This model will be available to order in European LHD markets only, and will be referred to as a Type R S grade. The lap time was set using Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Connect tyres that will be available to order through Michelin directly."

That's not all that's different, either. The European model is rated at 325 horsepower to the U.S. market's 315, and the record-setting car used tires that aren't available from the factory. It reportedly rode on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Connect, whereas the Type R's stock tire is the more street-oriented Pilot Sport 4S. These tires are reportedly available from Honda dealers and Michelin itself, but aren't factory equipment. It's also unclear whether the S Grade will be sold in the U.S.—Honda declined to comment on the matter, or how much weight the trim saves.

Lap records are enough of a boondoggle as-is. Everything from weather conditions to tire compounds, resurfacing, tweaks to track layouts, to even what the driver ate for breakfast can make the difference between a record lap and a forgettable one. Yet while they're not really meaningful, we still don't like being taken for fools—or to see the theater that is the performance car arms race disrespected.

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