–Whitestown, Indiana

It’s my deeply held opinion that nearly every driver on the planet would benefit from high-performance driver training. The problem is, these courses are expensive. Tuition for a three-day course can cost around $6,000, not including flights and lodging. There are more grass-roots methods of becoming a better driver – autocross is an amazing, low-risk way of learning car control – but this is 2023. Can’t we use technology to get better?

That’s the question Honda is asking with its LogR app. I’ve had a loose understanding of this technology for a few years, but I equated it with the Performance Data Recorder available in Chevrolet Corvettes and Camaros and Cadillac V products. But after I spent a day lapping the Putnam Park Road Course outside Indianapolis in the 2023 Honda Civic Type R, describing LogR as a smartphone-based PDR does it a great disservice. This technology wanted to make me a better driver.

2023 Honda Civic Type R Review

What A Pair

LogR requires two things: a smartphone and a Honda Civic Type R. That last one is the real ask, with a starting price of $44,890 (including a $1,095 destination charge), although the LogR system comes standard. Pairing car and phone is as easy as downloading the LogR app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and punching in the car’s username and password.

The app is preloaded with 27 tracks in North America, almost all of which are icons: Daytona, Road America, Laguna Seca, Sebring, and Watkins Glen, to name a few. And if, like Putnam Park, your local road course isn’t in the system, you need only point out where the start/finish line is and the system will use MapBox data to do the rest. From there, simply mount your phone so the camera can see ahead, activate the data logger and video, and lap as quick as you can.

For my test at Putnam Park, Honda handled the programming of the start/finish line ahead of time, while logging into my Championship White Civic Type R took seconds. And from there, I simply put my right foot down hard and went for it.

Gallery: 2023 Honda Civic Type R Review

Getting To Know You

Putnam Park is a 1.8-mile, 10-turn circuit that winds through the farmland outside Indianapolis. Honda’s pro drivers set reference laps in each car at the test, with mine covering the distance in a scant 1 minute, 18 seconds, although other journalists at the event had baseline times nearer to a minute-20. I had precious few chances to match those numbers, with my two sessions broken out into an out lap, two flying laps, and a cooldown. My best time was a leisurely 1:25. In my defense, I’d like to say that until that morning I’d never seen Putnam Park nor driven an inch in the redesigned Type R.

That last point shouldn’t have mattered much, but the one thing I have in common with pro drivers is I’ve never met an excuse for poor on-track performance I didn’t like. The redesigned Type R retains its predecessor’s razor-sharp handling, glorious six-speed manual gearbox, and powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. Coming to grips with its performance was far simpler than learning the track.

Honda LogR screenshots
Honda LogR screenshots

That’s where LogR came in. After wrapping up my lap, I stopped the recording and let my phone process the data for my review. The app breaks each lap of each session out individually and automatically ranks them from fastest to slowest. Tap on a lap and it pulls up telemetry, sticking a heat map of the circuit on the top quarter of the page (green for accelerating, yellow/orange/red for increasing levels of deceleration), with the rest of the screen dedicated to swappable pages and playback controls. The default page has a G meter with a friction circle for each individual tire. A second page shows a more traditional telemetry graph that drivers can configure with up to six fields.

When it comes to studying performance, this is where LogR comes into its own. Tap play and watch the lines on the graf to feel a bit like a Formula 1 driver debriefing a session with their engineers. Within seconds of being out of the car, I could tell that I was braking too gently and too early (I’ll blame the lead-follow nature of the session, because racing driver excuses are endless), but I could also see how smoothly I was working the accelerator pedal and steering. The LogR app bore that out.

Honda LogR screenshots
Honda LogR screenshots

Get Good Grades

Because it’s 2023, everything needs gamified and LogR is no different, attaching what Honda calls an Autoscore to each lap. While it sounds cheesy, digging into how the app computes that score is revealing. It takes into account five fields (G Average, Balance, Friction Circle, Saturation, and Variation) and assigns a letter grade. The best I saw was a B – some of the media there received As or Ss, and the pros were cracking out S+ rankings. The app can then go into detail of each individual field to help drivers figure out where they need to improve.

Matching up with what the telemetry said, LogR praised my Variation (or smoothness of inputs), saying that “the load fluctuations on four tires are small” while stinging me by saying I had “not reached the G margin of the vehicle.” When I asked Honda if that was code for “you’re a coward and should carry more speed into the corners,” I was met with knowing smiles. But the point of this occasionally embarrassing exercise is that for the first time, I had not only studiable telemetry of my sessions, but direct feedback on areas where I could improve.

And it gets better from there, because LogR can go a step further and synchronize the telemetry with the video feed. When I went to start this syncing, the app told me it’d take 50 minutes, though, during which the LogR app couldn’t be shuffled off to the background. When I did synchronize (later, when I had my phone plugged in and didn’t need it), my iPhone 14 Pro made short work of it all, matching up data from both sessions with their respective videos in about 30 minutes total. I’m betting an older or less powerful phone would come closer to the app’s estimated time. Here’s what that video feed looks like when it’s all said and done.

The Big Drawback

After a day at Putnam Park, the only problem I really found with LogR was its limited availability. It doesn’t matter if you have a Civic Si, an Acura TLX Type S, or even a mighty NSX, because LogR is only available on the Civic Type R. Honda’s rationale is that the Type R and LogR are both meant for the track. I’d like to argue, though, that there will be Civic Si owners that visit their local road courses, and I bet NSX Type S pilots will do the same. There’s no reason to discriminate against these owners because they wanted a slightly different experience.

But for Civic Type R owners who regularly lap their cars, LogR is a deeply valuable tool. It can’t and won’t replace dedicated instruction from professional drivers, but at least it provides a positive starting point for improvement. And beyond that, it’s a good bit of fun to see just how good or bad you performed at your last track day.

Gallery: Honda LogR App Feature

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