Fairly recently, the news about the release of the 2017 Honda Civic Type R to the general public has surfaced, and it’s got New England drivers more excited than ever. Car and Driver even shows its excitement when reviewing the newest model, saying that “the Civic Type R is here, and it’s glorious.” In its short time around, the 2017 model has already begun making a lasting impression on the racing world as well, with numerous wins already under its belt. As Honda begins to transition to a period where they focus more energy on bringing the public vehicles with racing-inspired potential, now is a good time to offer a bit of background on why this Honda racing vehicle in particular garnishes so much attention. Earning the Type R badge isn’t easy and requires a vehicle to focus intensely on providing stellar performance. Stay tuned to learn where the Type R started and where it’s going.
The Type R nameplate isn’t some fancy new badge that any Honda vehicle can earn; it comes with a long history that starts as far back as 1992. Through a Japan-only release, the Honda NSX Type R became the first of Honda’s vehicles to don the coveted badge. Another exclusive to the Japanese market was the Honda Integra Type R, which showed up in 1995. Finally, after years of waiting to get in on the action, the Type R badge made its way overseas to the American market. In 1997, the Acura Integra Type R hit the streets and was incredibly well received by sports-car enthusiasts. However, its time on the U.S. market was short-lived, since after the Acura Integra Type R, the badge failed to appear on another vehicle. In its place, drivers began to look toward the Honda Civic Si, which also offers impressive performance—though that doesn’t mean that anyone has stopped craving a new Type R–badged vehicle.
After initially catching the attention of vehicle enthusiasts, the Type R badge finally found a Honda model to stick with—the Civic. With the long history of high-performing Civic vehicles, the news of a Honda Civic Type R is not completely unexpected. Since 1997, the Civic Type R has gone through five different generations—each more attractive and performance-focused than the last. See where it started and where we are now with this helpful generational breakdown below.
In 1997, the first Civic Type R was born in the Japanese market. As the very first Honda Civic to be adorned with the Type R badging, this was quite exciting news. This badging resulted in a vehicle with already high-performance potential getting quite a boost with the promise of added performance enhancements to make it worthy of the Type R badge. Styled as a three-door hatchback, this first iteration of the Honda Civic Type R was designed to take on the job of a truly track-ready vehicle with aggressive levels of power. To ensure that each model of the 1997 Civic Type R was up to Honda’s high standards, the 1.6L engines were hand-ported into each vehicle. These small but mighty engines easily produced a raucous 182 hp—packing quite a punch on the racetrack. To ensure the best possible performance, the 5-speed manual transmission came equipped with helical limited-slip differential, which worked to make the vehicle much more stable and reduce wheel spin while racing. The interior of this model was designed with red sport seats, a MOMO steering wheel, and not much else to ensure the weight of the vehicle stayed low, so performance could stay high.
Our next taste of the Honda Civic Type R reached the markets in Japan and Europe in 2001 without a sign that it would appear in U.S. markets. While the EP3 retained the same three-door hatchback exterior style, the vehicle itself underwent a redesign that made it much different from the EK9 model we were first introduced to. Instead of a 1.6L engine, this generation stepped things up with an all-new 2.0L engine that was more than ready to deliver the power and performance expected from a Type R vehicle. Since there were two versions of the vehicle floating around, the European and Japanese models had different power outputs; the European model with 200 hp and the Japanese model with 212 hp. The handling-enhancing helical limited-slip differential transfers to this model along with a newer, shorter gearing that improved grip and acceleration.
This third addition to the lineage of Honda Civic Type R models comes with a little more complication than the first two models, as the European and Japanese markets did not carry a single platform for the vehicle. The European model, the FN2, carried slightly less performance potential than the Japanese model. Equipped with a 2.0L engine with 197 hp available, the three-door hatchback FN2 was still fairly impressive. The Japanese model changed things up and introduced the Honda Civic Type R as a four-door sedan that still managed to give a bit more power behind the pedal with 222 hp. Though they do have their differences, one thing both models kept was the 6-speed manual front-wheel drive system with helical limited-slip differential to keep the driving experience fairly similar to previous models.
The introduction of the fourth edition of the Honda Civic Type R took a huge leap in performance from previous models and set up the framework for the more modern models of the Civic Type R. To make things easier and less confusing, the Civic Type R dropped the three-door hatchback and four-door sedan models and began solely offering a five-door hatchback that offered a sporty style without compromising performance. While the 6-speed manual front-wheel drive transmission with added helical limited-slip differential continued to appear on this model, the engine availability had changed. The model dropped the naturally aspirated engine seen on previous models and opted for a more powerful, turbocharged engine that produces up to 306 hp—a huge difference from the highest horsepower of 222 from former models.
Finally, we arrive at the current Honda Civic Type R model on the market. This model is the first to ever be readily available in U.S. markets. Sports vehicle enthusiasts from across the country can finally get a taste of the raw power that comes with the Honda Civic Type R with this powerful model. Though this model keeps the same engine framework as the FK2, there have been plenty of other changes taking place that have allowed the vehicle to start making a name for itself with record track times and racing wins. Some of the new, high-tech additions that come with this newest model include aluminum suspension components, three driving modes, an all-new, more responsive steering system and an adaptive damper system. The combination of all these new features in conjunction with the performance-tested powertrain configuration creates the Honda Civic Type R model we’ve all been waiting for.
Now that you’re well versed in Honda Civic Type R history, there should be nothing keeping you from getting behind the wheel of the 2017 Honda Civic Type R while you can. You can find out more information about this track-ready vehicle at your local New England Honda Dealer or by contacting us online where we can also give you more information regarding current offers and financing options available.