Latest Honda Civic Type R Introduced in Geneva
Type R Concept Also Introduces a New Bodystyle.
North America already gets a hot Civic in the form of the two-door Si, but the sporty setup for Europe and Japan bears the Type R name. Though North American buyers do not get a Type R model, the Si offers the same powertrain with less aggressive chassis tuning than a Type R. Introduced as a near-production concept at the Geneva auto show the first week of March 2006, the Civic Type R is a three-door hatchback instead of the two-door coupe sold in the USA and, shortly, the American four-door Si sedan versions. In the USA, Type R has been reserved for Honda’s Acura division, but, while the model designator may not be appropriate for the Honda brand in the States, Civic Type R components may be desirable.
Though the previous Type R Integra won over many U.S. enthusiasts, we haven’t seen a Type R in the States since the 2001 model year version. The Type S models that Acura offers now do not have the same rough edges and aggressive personalities of Type R models.
The Civic Type R gets the same 197HP 2.0L DOHC 16v I4 that the U.S. Si offers and goes on sale in early 2007. Civic Type R models have traditionally offered about 200HP, but with the improvements to the suspension and chassis that the 2006MY change brought being further enhanced by the Type R treatment, the driving experience should be more involving and entertaining. More pedestrian versions of the 3-door hatchback will launch ahead of the Type R in Europe and Japan, though North America will not see the 3-door bodystyle. As Honda also announced its return to Formula 1 with a full works team, the company asked team driver Jenson Button to assist with the Geneva Civic Type R Concept unveiling.
Type R: What’s In a Name?
Honda first introduced the Type R name on hot motorcycles. Honda has not as liberally applied the Type R philosophy to its model ranges as companies like BMW have done with M models, Mercedes-Benz with AMG cars, and even the Chrysler Group with their comparatively new SRT Group.
The first car was the NSX-R in 1992, with reduced weight, stiffer suspension, Recaro seats, MOMO steering wheel, and production limited to 1995 units. This version was offered in the States as the 1993 Acura NSX-R. In September 1995, Japan got a Honda Integra Type-R equipped with a 200HP 1.8L DOHC VTEC, helical limited-slip differential, sports suspension, and various interior/exterior sporting cues. The Acura Integra Type R was offered in the States for 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2001 model years. Though available only in white at first, later years saw it available only in yellow and black. The 2001MY version got a 220HP 2.0L engine overseas, while the U.S. Acura Integra Type R stayed with the 195HP 1.8L. The 220HP Civic Type R was also the one that made the move from five- to six-speed manual transmission. Since the Integra’s replacement with the RSX, there have been Type S models for Acura’s range, offering similar power to the coveted Type R models but with a less outgoing exterior and less aggressive suspension setups.
After the 2001 Integra Type R, Type R models have not been offered in the States. Before their departure, the Type R models did much for improving Honda’s image with the tuner set, Acura badge or not, and owners still talk amongst themselves on forums like Honda-Acura.net. The seventh-generation Civic was also available in Japan and Europe with a three-door Type R model, launched in October 2001 and built in the U.K. until September 2005. Production ended as the plant was being readied to build eighth-generation Civics, including the 2007 Civic Type R. Europe also offered an Accord Type R in 1998.
Type R Philosophy
According to press materials surrounding the 2006 Civic Type R Concept launch, the Type R philosophy is about building a car with a well-engineered, exciting driving experience. Honda’s Type R cars look to simple engineering solutions rather than electronic driving aids like all-wheel drive, stability control, or traction control, and these cars are developed with their own engineering approach for a unique personality.
The driving experience is meant to be similar to the feel of driving a racing car. To make the driver feel a part of the machine, Type R cars get high levels of feedback in sound, steering, response, and handling. Though Type R cars do not have to be the fastest, Honda does insure they get at least above average gear-change quality, braking, steering, and handling. A purity of experience is ensured by eliminating driving aids (think stability programs) and sound proofing. Type R cars offered few amenities, even before features like satellite navigation or hands-free phones were available, and you won’t find leather seats in a Type R. Part of Honda’s Type R philosophy is for normally aspirated engines for smoother power delivery throughout the rev range instead of looking to turbochargers or superchargers to increase the pure horsepower numbers. Contributing to the more involving drive is a high degree of torsional rigidity for Type R cars, improving balance in handling.