New Honda Civic Type R - Geneva 2017

Having run one asΒ a long-termer, taken it to the Nurburgring and compared it with rivals new and old, we learned to admire the turbocharged FK2Β CivicΒ Type R. Indeed, it still seems like a new car. But here comesΒ its replacement already! That fast turnaround is because the last Type R meant a heavy re-engineering job for Honda and itsΒ CivicΒ platform. Rather than have the Type R ready to roll out immediately the development work required meant it didn't arrive until late in the product cycle.Β 

You were expecting something shy?
You were expecting something shy?
This new Type R, revealed today at Geneva and on sale in the autumn, was instead part of the plan from the very beginning, meaning it follows hot on the heels of the standard version that launched earlier this year. It will cost slightly more than today's Β£30,000 asking price.

The Type R might be known as one of the more track-focused hot hatches, but there's a change of tone for this generation. Indeed, Honda says it will strike the perfect balance between performance and comfort. "We are trying to balance two aspects. Some rivals focus on extreme performance and others are going in the comfort direction. We want to go right in the middle," says the model's project boss Hideki Kakinuma. That's largely because the Type R will sell in America for the first time, so Honda needs to appeal to a broader audience.

But Type R fans, have no fear. Kakinuma confirmed to us Honda is still going for the elusive Nurburgring front-wheel drive lap record this spring. It's got some catching up to do. A pre-production version of the outgoing Type R held the record until last May, when Volkswagen's Golf GTI Clubsport S stole the crown, recording a lap time ofΒ 7min 49.21sec, 1.4 seconds faster than the Type R. Honda responded last summer by setting new front-wheel-drive car lap records at five European racing circuits. And then VW returned to the Nordschleife and tookΒ another two seconds off its time, just for good measure.Β 

Lower CoG, more power, independent rear axle...
Lower CoG, more power, independent rear axle...
So what about the figures? The Type R uses the same turbocharged 2.0-litre VTEC engine as the outgoing model, with power increased by 10hp to 320hp at 6,500rpm. Torque is the same at 295lb ft from 2,500rpm to 4,500rpm. While the engine has the same fundamental design exhaust flow has been improved and the mapping updated, Honda claiming improved throttle response - a big problem with the previous car - and driveability as a result. Β 

Weight is "just about the same" as the existing Type R - 1,382kg - so along with the slight rise in power you can bank on a token reduction in the FK2's 5.7 seconds from 0-62mph. There's nothing official yet, though.

The hot hatch also keeps a six-speed manual rather than opting for a dual-clutch auto like some of its rivals. "We want to offer customers the joy of shifting for themselves," says Kakinuma. It also gets a new rev-match control system for smoother gearshifts if you're not a heel'n'toe master. Hopefully it's switchable for those who are! Β 

Longer, lower and wider than before, the model's centre of gravity is 34mm lower while the driver's hip point is 50mm lower. It uses the bodyshell of the standardΒ CivicΒ and with further use of adhesive in key areas; accordingly its torsional rigidity is 39 per cent improved compared to the previous Type R, claims Honda.

Orders are being taken now!
Orders are being taken now!
The Macpherson strut suspension of the standard model has also been revised for the Type R with new geometry intended to minimise torque steer and "maximise sporty handling", to use Honda's words. It also uses the same multi-link rear axle - yes, the torsion beam has gone! - as the standardΒ Civic, but adds high-rigidity suspension arms.Β 

The aerodynamics are also improved with a smoother underbody, front air curtain, a lightweight rear wing and vortex generators on the roof line. Honda claims the result is a best-in-class balance between lift and drag.

There's something else new for die-hard Type R fans, which hopefully means its track ability will be even better than before. That's the three drive modes. The sensible one, Comfort, should make the car feel like a standardΒ Civic, while Sport is the default mode. The R mode - familiar from the FK2 - is "a bit harder than before" according to Kakinuma. "We've extended the spectrum of the modes," he adds. We'll look forward to putting that promise to the test soon as soon as possible.Β 

[RachelΒ Burgess]Β 

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (226) Join the discussion on the forum

  • loudlashadjuster 07 Mar 2017

    That reminds me, I must feed the dog...

  • dibbers006 07 Mar 2017

    loudlashadjuster said:
    That reminds me, I must feed the dog...

  • CoolHands 07 Mar 2017

    Love it. Makes the last one look tame.

  • PixelpeepS3 07 Mar 2017

    all that power and it can barely manage to dip below 6 seconds to 60? - not going to win any top trumps or traffic light GP's with that, are we...

    i get there will be more to the story, in gear acceleration, feel, handling etc etc but it just makes me wonder are they fighting a losing battle keeping it FWD ?

    maybe they should do a watered down FWD type-R with say 250bhp, better economy , cheaper to produce and maintain and then do an 'RR' or something with 400bhp and AWD - they make amazingly good AWD stuff so its not like its unfamiliar territory.

    IMO, they are so nearly there with a genuine focus RS rival if only it could have an answer for it off the line..

  • hammo19 07 Mar 2017

    "What old spares have we got in the stock room?" "Just stick as much on to the body as possible - that'll make it look sporty"

View all comments in the forums Make a comment