The Important Numbers
Die-hard Honda fans in the U.S. have gone a long time without an accessible, truly high-performance machine we reckon the S2000 roadster was the last drool-worthy vehicle with an H badge available on our shores. So the arrival of a new 2017 Civic Type R in the U.S. late this spring is a highly anticipated event, to say the least. As only the second Type R model to be sold in America (after the coveted Acura Integra Type R from the 20th century), this new hot hatch takes the Civic to its logical extreme with a high-strung turbo engine, a stiffened chassis, and aggressive design cues inside and out.
Sticking with front-wheel drive when similarly powered competitors like the Subaru WRX STI, Volkswagen Golf R, and Ford Focus RS offer standard all-wheel drive is a bold move by Honda.
Its Dual-Axis front-strut setup is intended to limit torque steer; it’s essentially the same sort of layout employed by Ford and General Motors in their RevoKnuckle and HiPer Strut suspensions. Of course, Honda is smart to use the word “reduce” rather than “eliminate” in that description, given the nearly 300 lb-ft of twist available from the 2.0-liter mill.
VTEC + Turbo, Yo
That engine is the same direct-injected, VTEC, turbocharged 2.0-liter that’s built in Ohio and installed in the outgoing Euro-spec Civic Type R. Peak torque comes on at 2500 rpm and peak horsepower at 6500 rpm with a redline around 7000 rpm, this is no high-revving screamer in the manner of previous hotted-up Hondas.
The short-throw six-speed manual incorporates automatic rev-matching, while the final-drive ratio is shorter and the flywheel is lighter than in the Euro-spec Type R. Yes, the Honda is down 44 horsepower and 55 lb-ft of torque to the Focus RS, but the front-drive Civic is likely to be lighter than that 3434-pound all-wheel-drive Ford. Although Honda hasn’t revealed a claimed curb weight, it does say that the Type R’s aluminum hood contributes to a slight reduction in body weight compared with a standard Civic hatchback, which weighs in at around 3000 pounds.
A comprehensive chassis update includes additional structural bracing along with different tuning for the springs, dampers, and bushings. A limited-slip differential is standard, as are adaptive dampers that can be controlled through the three driving modes: Comfort, Sport, and +R.
These modes also alter the steering and throttle response, the stability-control intervention, and the rev-matching system. Stopping power comes from standard Brembo calipers featuring cross-drilled 13.8-inch rotors up front and solid 12.0-inch rotors in the rear a substantial 2.7 and 1.8 inches larger than the standard Civic hatchback’s rotors. The 245/30 Continental SportContact 6 summer tires wrap around 20-inch black wheels with an attractive 10-spoke pattern, but there isn’t a more extreme tire option like the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s that Ford offers on the Focus RS.
Turned Up to 11
The Type R’s wild exterior turns up the aggression several ticks compared with the standard Civic hatchback, which itself already wears a funkier look than Civic sedan and coupe models. A carbon-fiber-look body kit with a red accent line joins a hood scoop, a few extra vents, and a massive rear wing to complete the R’s visual statement. Small fins along the rear hatch combine with the wing to increase down force, and three large center-mounted exhaust outlets should produce raucous sounds. The red Honda badge that’s de rigueur among Type R variants is featured prominently in front and back.
The color red highlights the interior as well, with in-your-face red trim for the steering wheel, sport seats, and gauge cluster. Faux carbon-fiber trim adorns the dashboard, while a serialized Type R plaque on the center console should make owners feel special.
As for cost, Honda says the Type R which comes only in Touring trim that includes navigation, Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility, and a 12-speaker audio system will be priced in the mid-$30,000 range. That might make the front-drive Honda a tough sell to Focus RS and WRX STI intenders, who will find those all-wheel-drive models starting at less than $37,000. That won’t matter, though, to those committed U.S. Honda enthusiasts for whom this new Civic serves as the long-awaited arrival of the beloved red H badge.