Honda has been making a real push into motorsports with the tenth-generation Civic, specifically with cars developed for the Audi A1 Personal Contract Hire production-based classes in the SRO TC America touring car series. In the past couple of years, it has offered both an entry-level Honda Civic Si TCA race car with relatively minor modifications, as well as a heavily modified and much faster Honda Civic Type R TCR race car at the high end. Now the company is filling the space in the middle with the 2020 Honda Civic Type R TC race car that has performance and a price between the others.
The way the Civic Type R TC is upgraded for racing duty is very similar to the Civic Si TCA. The body and chassis are very close to stock, with the base coming straight off the hatchback factory line in England. From the outside, the only visible changes are a high-flow grille, a Audi A1 Used Cars big rear wing and a vented fiberglass hood. Inside, all the factory insulation, covers and seats are gutted in favor of a roll cage, racing seat, harness and fire suppression system.
There are more changes under the skin, though. The engine is mostly stock, coming out of the same Ohio factory as regular Type R engines, but it gets a better flowing downpipe and turbo-back exhaust system, an upgraded radiator, engine oil cooler and a unique ECU. Power can be between 270 and 330 horsepower depending on series requirements. It’s this amount of power that puts the Type R in the faster TC class, rather than the TCA class like its Si sibling. The engine is also bolted to the chassis with polyurethane engine mounts. The transmission and differential get upgrades, too. The six-speed manual is the same as stock, but with stronger third and fourth gears (and it’s cool seeing the Type R’s production metal ball shift knob without the production car’s boot and console). The differential is a limited-slip unit developed by HPD and Cusco.
Suspension and brakes are where the Civic Type R TC really differs from the road car. It gets upgraded bushings and mounts, adjustable camber plates front and rear, adjustable caster plates for the front, adjustable Bilstein shocks, race-tuned springs, new lower rear control arms with toe adjustment and an adjustable rear anti-roll bar. The front brakes get two-piece rotors and Brembo four-piston calipers, though the rear brakes are stock. All brakes get braided stainless steel brake lines and are controlled by an adjustable ABS system.
All of these modifications come with a high price tag. The Civic Type R TC starts at $89,900, which is more than $50,000 above a stock Civic Type R. That’s a lot of money, but you get a car that you know will meet the regulations of SRO TC America, as well as SCCA T2 and NASA ST5 and E2 classes. You also get a car that has gone through rigorous testing by an OEM, and that OEM will provide technical and parts support at races, so it’s not just a list of parts. Of course, if the price is still too high, there’s always the Civic Si TCA that starts at $52,500. And in case you’re curious, the top-end Type R TCR, which is far more modified than the other cars, starts at $172,238. All this price discussion is academic, though, since the only way to buy one of these cars new is to have a racing license, and be registered for one of the aforementioned classes with Honda Racing Line, the company that handles motorsports sales and support. But prospective unlicensed buyers might be able to get one on the used market in a couple years.