The Civic’s highest-performance version, a car that has never appeared in the States except as mail-order clones built for the NOPI Nationals or as virtual versions in Gran Turismo.
Honda hasn’t fielded a real performance car since it killed the S2000 roadster six years ago, and despite still-robust sales the current Civic has been a critical failure. Importing the Type R should help resurrect the brand’s credibility with enthusiasts, while adding excitement to a model that’s grown too conservative.
A new, 10th-generation Civic arrives this fall, bigger and more refined than before thanks to a platform that will be shared with the Accord. While the traditional four-door-sedan and two-door-coupe body styles continue for regular commuter-grade Civics, the Type R will be a hatchback.
It will be worth the wait, though, as the car will match the mechanical setup of the current Type R offered exclusively overseas. This means a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with direct fuel injection, turbocharging and VTEC variable valve timing delivering 305 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission and a ‘Dual Axis Strut’ suspension system. Key rivals will be the Ford Motor Company Focus RS, Subaru WRX STI and Volkswagen Golf R. Honda’s new i-VTEC 2.0-liter turbo four will send about 300 horses to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. Torque steer will be suppressed by a new front-suspension design and adaptive dampers all around.
Besides turbocharging, the new Civic Type R brings other new tech in the form of adjustable dampers with four modes. A “+R” button on the left side of the instrument cluster—directly opposite the “Engine Start” button on the right—not only puts the dampers in their firmest setting, but also tightens the steering and sharpens throttle response.
The chassis also boasts Brembo brakes with 13.8-inch front rotors and four-piston calipers. The 19-inch wheels—in black with a red pinstripe—are wrapped with ultra-low-profile 235/35 tires. A so-called Dual Axis Strut Front Suspension similar to Ford’s RevoKnuckle and GM’s HiPer Strut—utilizes two supporting kingpins in an effort to mitigate torque steer on the front-wheel-drive-only Type R. The rear suspension utilizes a torsion beam with an H-shaped section for greater rigidity, and the steering is a rack-mounted, electrically assisted system.
Honda has yet to deliver even the 2018 Type R. That one is based on the current Civic but powered by the new turbo engine, and it won’t be sold in the U.S. Teething problems with the powerplant could delay the next Type R. And another lukewarm reception to a new Civic could give Honda pause about bringing the Type R stateside.
The Type R will serve as the flagship of the 10-generation Civic family and be based on the Civic Hatchback, though it’s possible other bodystyles, such as the coupe, will also be used. We’re hearing that the Type R might not land in showrooms until 2017, which would see it arrive as a 2018 model.