You’d heard enough about the Civic Type R well before the prototype version of Honda’s promised “hottest hatch ever” claims ever materialized in the form of a prototype vehicle at the 2016 SEMA Show. As car nerds, our social media feeds are inundated with “love it” or “hate it” style posts and links to hotshot bloggers providing unsubstantiated info about the car’s facts and figures. It’s a car with so much hype and fanfare that Honda PR had taken their already tightlipped vehicle rollout procedure to new heights, bobbing and weaving a flurry of questions and concerns from more annoying editors and industry folk than they could ever hope to tally up.
I know because I’m one of those annoying people and I couldn’t crack any of them. And trust me when I tell you, I did try. Even during an impromptu sneak peek that I was privy to a few days prior to the car’s Las Vegas appearance, I fired multiple shots at the Honda reps, from all angles, looking for any clue as to what to expect beyond the appearance of the vehicle – but they weren’t budging.
It’s been a long four months since that night with the prototype, and since then it feels like the well-oiled hype machine has become altogether bigger and more ominous. Like clockwork, the cries about how it looks too much like this car or that, the disappointment about Honda not opting to utilize an AWD layout like the others, and the price comparisons that pit the CTR against everything from the Focus RS, to the WRX STI, to 20-year-old Honda chassis with mountains of money thrown into them only increased. Furthermore, there was still a flat earth group that proclaimed the Type R would never make it to U.S. shores. None of that really mattered once I received an email in February with the hard facts on the car and images of the actual production version, both of which provided an almost unnecessary confirmation to assure me that yes, this is really happening, and U.S. fans would not be left out in the rain for a change.
The first thing you probably noticed about the production car pictured here is it’s been slathered in a more traditional Honda white tone, as compared to the prototype’s textured, matte black wrap (which by the way is pretty damn cool in person). In addition, contrary to the keyboard counsel, much of the trim and aero aesthetic presented in the prototype actually carried over to the production model. You’ll probably also notice the European license plate dimensions and assume this is the European model – and you’re right. However, all signs point toward the U.S. version sporting the same look.
Along with the white paint that seems to reveal a few extra curves and sharp lines that were previously toned down by the prototype’s darker color, the 20-inch wheels and Brembo brakes remain intact. In the rear, the large wing takes up the same amount of airspace as its counterpart and that triple exhaust combo jutting out from the center of the aggressive rear diffuser also remains. My initial thought was that the car would shuffle the trio of trumpets based on a selectable driving mode, similar to the NSX. And while my little theory wasn’t mentioned in Honda’s press release, user-selectable driving modes that include Comfort, Sport and +R are said to activate a change in damper, steering, throttle response, transmission rev matching, VSA, and traction control, and lead me to believe that those modes include modulation of the exhaust flow and note.
Now, here we go – *rubbing hands together* – it’s no secret the new CTR was destined to be turbocharged. After all, the naturally aspirated Civic engines of the past have been picked apart, swapped, built, and often times boosted; this era seems to be coming to an end as much of the 10th generation model line relies on economical turbo power. Whether the new Si coupe will lean more toward economy or performance from its little boosted 1.5L mill is still up in the air, but under the Type R red and carbon fiber laced valve cover is a turbocharged 2.0L i-VTEC heart that produces 306hp with 295 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent to a limited slip differential with gear selection duties handled by a good ‘ol six-speed manual.
As expected, the Type R isn’t just a dressed up standard hatchback with a hotter engine; it sports impressive improvements when compared to the previous, overseas CTR model – improvements in the form of a 38 percent increase in torsional rigidity and a 45 percent increase in bending rigidity, which along with the sport tuned suspension, means this car is ready for track duty. And before you even think it, this new model managed to drop 35 lbs. compared to the previous R. And if you’re Google’ing the power numbers for the FK2 and notice power hasn’t increased on the upcoming model, keep in mind the European market has a different testing protocol. And yes, the U.S. version might be a few ponies shy of other regions, but it still stands far and above all other Civic models as the most powerful version by far.
Inside the new cabin, high-bolstered red/black bucket seats with red stitching are flanked by similarly stitched and carbon fiber accented door panels, which carry into the look of the dash. The top of the center console houses the navigation and audio controls, which includes control of a 12 speaker, 540-watt audio system (hey, stop mentally stripping the car of all of its speakers to shave some weight; yeah, I’m talking to you!) Just behind the six-speed manual shifter is the official CTR aluminum plate that designates your car with a specific model number, and to the right of that are the selectable driver modes.
- Official U.S. debut at New York Auto show, on sale in late spring 2017
- MSRP mid-$30K
- First Type R-badged Honda model ever made available in the U.S.
- Most powerful, quickest, and fastest Civic ever offered
- 2.0L 4-cylinder i-VTEC turbo - 306hp 295 lb-ft. of torque
- Short-throw, 6-speed manual transmission
- Major chassis and suspension upgrades compared to non-R model and increased rigidity and a lighter curb weight compared to previous CTR
- Chassis - Increased stiffness over current hatchback model and previous CTR
- Layout - FWD with limited slip
- Engine - Inline four 2.0L i-VTEC DOHC turbocharged with dual valve timing control
- Steering - Dual pinion electric power steering with variable and active steering
- Suspension - Dual axis front strut suspension and independent multi-link rear suspension with adaptive damper system
- Brakes - Brembo aluminum four pistons front calipers, drilled 350mm rotors
- Wheels - 20-in aluminum alloy
- Tires - 245/30-20 Continental ContiSport Contact 6 performance
- Lighting - LED headlights, fog lights, brake lights and turn signals
- Interior – High-bolstered red/black, sport/racing pedals
- Audio – 12 speaker, 540-watt, display screen with Navi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto