Die-hard Honda fans in the U.S. have gone a long time without an accessible, truly high-performance machine—we reckon the S2000 roadster was the last drool-worthy vehicle with an H badge available on our shores. So the arrival of a new 2017 Civic Type R in the U.S. late this spring is a highly anticipated event, to say the least. As only the second Type R model to be sold in America (after the coveted Acura Integra Type R from the 20th century), this new hot hatch takes the Civic to its logical extreme with a high-strung turbo engine, a stiffened chassis, and aggressive design cues inside and out.
The Important Numbers
Honda placated the restless by showing a nearly production-ready prototype of the Civic Type R hatchback last year but declined to reveal any hard numbers. We now have the full download on the Civic Type R’s impressive specs: A turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four good for 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque mates to a one-choice-only six-speed manual transmission—and yes, all that torque will route through the front wheels.
Sticking with front-wheel drive when similarly powered competitors like the Subaru WRX STI, Volkswagen Golf R, and Ford Focus RS offer standard all-wheel drive is a bold move by Honda. Its Dual-Axis front-strut setup is intended to limit torque steer; it’s essentially the same sort of layout employed by Ford and General Motors in their RevoKnuckle and HiPer Strut suspensions. Of course, Honda is smart to use the word “reduce” rather than “eliminate” in that description, given the nearly 300 lb-ft of twist available from the 2.0-liter mill.
VTEC + Turbo, Yo
That engine is the same direct-injected, VTEC, turbocharged 2.0-liter that’s built in Ohio and installed in the outgoing Euro-spec Civic Type R. Peak torque comes on at 2500 rpm and peak horsepower at 6500 rpm—with a redline around 7000 rpm, this is no high-revving screamer in the manner of previous hotted-up Hondas. The short-throw six-speed manual incorporates automatic rev-matching, while the final-drive ratio is shorter and the flywheel is lighter than in the Euro-spec Type R. Yes, the Honda is down 44 horsepower and 55 lb-ft of torque to the Focus RS, but the front-drive Civic is likely to be lighter than that 3434-pound all-wheel-drive Ford. Although Honda hasn’t revealed a claimed curb weight, it does say that the Type R’s aluminum hood contributes to a slight reduction in body weight compared with a standard Civic hatchback, which weighs in at around 3000 pounds.