With official power and torque outputs of 316bhp and 295lb-ft, the new Honda Civic Type R 2017 largely shuns the power race going on in the segment; that’s just 10bhp up on the previous Type R, and with an identical peak of torque. Then again, what the old Type R needed wasn’t more power, but substantial improvements elsewhere, and the new car certainly promises that.
Honda Civic Type R Design
This gestation has inevitably impacted upon the Type R’s design, which while every bit as outlandish as before is arguably more cohesive overall. Honda claims ‘the best balance of lift and drag’ in the class, aided by a mainly flat underbody, vortex generators on the trailing edge of the roof and naturally, an outrageous rear wing.
All of the above should mean Honda has been able to take a significant step forward in terms of outright performance, but also to meet their goals to improve the Type R’s everyday usability – important given this is the first time the Civic Type R is a global seller. As part of that aim, Honda has expanded the car’s driving modes to three settings, adding ‘Comfort’ beneath ‘Sport’ and the track-focused ‘+R’ mode. Apparently feedback from customers suggested most found +R virtually unusable on the road, and we’d concur, but the new setup should allow the Type R to work better on UK roads, even if a user-programmable ‘individual’ mode is still notable by its absence.
Once again, the Type R is unusual in only being available with a manual gearbox (now with a rev-match function), Honda engineers telling us that shifting cogs with three pedals and a stick is an integral part of the hot hatch experience in their view. It also retains a front-wheel drive layout, managing the torque to the front wheels via a limited slip differential; at present there are no plans for either a twin clutch ‘box or four-wheel drive. In fact, the gearbox, front brakes and engine, apart from detail changes, are the only carry-over parts from the old car to new.
Only Available with a manual gearbox option
Just one tyre will be available: the Continental Sport Contact 6, mounted on larger, 20” rims. In theory, that puts Honda at a slight disadvantage in terms of outright performance against rivals who increasingly offer a stickier tyre option, but Honda have tried hard to make the car work well everywhere on the one tyre, viewing it as an engineering challenge.
Order books are open and UK cars should start arriving this summer. By then we should know whether Honda’s radical reimaging of the Type R hatchback, albeit along resolutely traditional lines, has created a class leader.