Is there anything more desirable than forbidden fruit? With the Honda Civic Type R dropping at the Geneva International Auto Show this week, it seems that the answer is a resounding “no.”
Honda has consistently produced the Civic Si for the American market, but its most hardcore Civic, the Type R, has never made it to the U.S. Not being able to get our hands on the previous generation Civic Type R was disappointing enough, but if the upcoming fourth-generation version is as good as it looks like it’s going to be, not being able to buy one here in the States is going to be an absolute tragedy.
While the Civic Si is certainly hotter than the regular Civic, the all=new Civic Type R promises to be about as sporty as Honda can possibly make it. That means power is up to an insane 310 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque out of a new 2.0-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that will scream all the way up to a 7,000 RPM redline. Compared to the Civic Si’s 205-horsepower output, that’s some serious extra grunt.
The Type R remains front-wheel drive, though, which means it’s bumping up against the limit of how much power you can reasonably use without having major torque-steer problems. To counteract that, Honda has created a “Dual Axis Strut” suspension that is meant to dramatically improve handling.
That boost in power also means that the Honda Civic Type R can run from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds, which is potentially underwhelming, but front-wheel drive cars have a hard time putting the power down to the road from a dead stop, and you can expect it to feel much faster on the road than the numbers suggest.
If going fast is your goal, the new Type R has a claimed top speed of 168 miles per hour, which should be more than enough. Honda paid serious attention to improving the aerodynamics of the Type R, ensuring that its bodywork was functional and didn’t just give it an aggressive, racy look. As a result, it is able to achieve a much higher top speed than the typical 155-mile-per-hour top speed of its competitors.
Hopefully no one drives that quickly on public roads, but even on a track, those kinds of speeds can still be terrifying. Luckily, Honda has also focused on making sure that the Type R stays stable at high speeds. The rear wing will be functional, providing downforce along with the rear diffuser, which should help keep the car planted and less scary to drive at a higher velocity.
Extra horsepower means you need extra stopping power, and that means bigger brakes, which Honda has sourced from Brembo. With its reputation in performance cars already well established, expect the Civic Type R’s Brembo brakes to be more than up to the task of slowing things down.
Perhaps most frustrating of all for us Americans is that the Type R will offer a six-speed manual transmission. As much as dual clutch and automatic transmissions have improved recently, it’s still hard to beat the feel of shifting your own gears, and Honda builds some of the best manual transmissions on the market. You might not win impromptu drag races from stop light to stop light, but driving the Honda Civic Type R on the track promises to be as enjoyable of an experience as you can get out of a production front-wheel drive car.
Don’t expect the Civic Type R to be so hardcore that it’s only useful on the track, though. Yes, it will have a firmer sports suspension than what you get on the Civic Si, but Honda has also fitted it with adaptive dampers. That means that while there will be a track mode, there will also be more comfortable modes to save your back while driving around town.
If that sounds like a tempting package to you, you’re not alone. Plenty of Americans have been clamoring for Honda to bring its Civic Type R to the U.S. and have sadly remained disappointed. There is good news, however: Honda revealed a new family of modern, turbocharged, four-cylinder engines at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, and they should make it to production by 2016.
We might not be getting the Civic Type R, but there’s no telling what Honda may decide to do with those new engines. Perhaps a new Civic Si is headed our way with near-Type R levels of performance. And maybe in a few years, Honda will build a true Type R version of the American Civic.
No one can say for sure what the future holds, but it’s clear that the Honda Civic Type R is one cool car. It isn’t nearly as polite and refined as the Volkswagen Golf R, but it’s loud, brash, aggressive, and it certainly promises to be impressive on the track — kind of like a Lamborghini that you can actually afford. You could probably afford it if they sold it here, but until they do, you’ll just have to sit, wait, and wish that you could get your hands on that forbidden fruit.
Check out Autos Cheat Sheet on Facebook