The Honda Racing Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship team has started its first public test outing for the new Civic Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) at Brands Hatch. Triple-BTCC champion Matt Neal and Gordon 'Flash' Shedden will be pushing the vehicle to the limit so that it can be as competitive as possible ahead of the season launch this April 1, 2012.
The public test comes after last week's successful initial test at the MIRA test track where the vehicle went through rigorous system checks to make sure that it is fully functional.
The Honda Racing team and Matt Neal spent Friday acclimatizing to the vehicle, ensuring that is it safe and set for track testing. Matt Neal commented that this is their first chance to get behind the wheel to truly determine what the vehicle has. He added that the team is "really pleased" with the results from the preliminary test at MIRA.
He further stated that it will be "interesting" to see the performance of the vehicle. He is confident that they have a "championship winning car."
Gordon 'Flash' Shedden said that the feedback on the new Civic NGTC vehicle "so far is incredibly promising." He added that he has been "itching to get into the car" since the end of the 2011 season.
Team Manager Peter Crolla related that the "team have all been working incredibly hard" since August, when the NGTC program started. He added that it will be interesting from the point of view of the engineers and drivers to watch how the vehicle performs on a track where they were very competitive with the S2000 Civic. This will allow them to "really start to understand and develop the new car."
Launched in 2006, the Honda Civic was designed with the European market in mind. Offering practical design elements such as a larger cabin and increased versatility, the Civic met the stringent European requirements and was praised for its distinctive futuristic style and the ability to adjust the capacity via the Honda's 'magic seats' and adjustable seat arrangements.
Once research was underway by the development team, they worked together to try and come up with a number of new concepts for the Civic so that they could enhance the experience for their consumers and expand the room, increasing visibility and providing a much greater field of vision for the driver.
While creating a comprehensive profile of the elements, they knew what they wanted to keep and what needed changing. The team at Honda knew the current Civic already had much more room than other similar model vehicles and the same amount of luggage space. Looking at the exterior, they decided they needed to reduce the weight of the car to enhance its fuel performance and acceleration. Playing into this also were a few aerodynamic changes they wanted to make.
Research was conducted both in Europe and in Japan at the behest of the team so as to get it right. Transferring designs back and forth between the team in Europe and the team in Japan, they were able to narrow down best practice and make sure the new Civic would meet the requirements for the world's toughest C-segment customers.
The Project Leader Mitsuru Kariya said that in defining the new Civic, they worked hard for the car to be unique in its intention, functional, versatile, exquisite quality but at a price which is affordable to ensure it remains at the top of the market.