The swell of joy we felt when the cover came off the 2017 Honda Civic Type R wasn’t because of its crazy looks — the prototype we saw in Paris gave us an early taste of that madness. It’s that after so long, after much pleading and wishing, the Type R is finally not dangling just out of our reach, to be savored only in video games and daydreams. With the debut of the 2017 Type R in Geneva, Honda is officially back as a performance brand in the U.S. Let the confetti fly.
With all that being said, there isn’t much in the way of surprises with this Type R. It’s more that all of the components of the most recent European Civic Type R have been polished and incorporated into a more fully realized package. The 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (with VTEC, obviously) is the same exact output as in the outgoing Type R, although the engine is now built at Honda’s engine plant in Ohio. You better know how to row your own, too, as Honda is brilliantly offering only a six-speed manual transmission, albeit with the addition of rev-matching technology. Honda says a new single-mass flywheel cuts clutch inertia by 25 percent and that we’ll be treated to improved acceleration response courtesy of a lower final gear ratio.
The story is similar with the suspension, which builds upon what we saw in the outgoing Type R. Here too we see the last car’s Dual-Axis front suspension setup, with aluminum lower arms and steering knuckles, which aim to banish torque steer by letting each wheel steer closer to its centerline. Up front is a familiar helical limited-slip differential. As with the last Type R, the front brakes are burly 13.8-inch vented and cross-drilled four-piston Brembos (the rears use solid 12-inch rotors). But in addition to the expectedly aggressive and revised tuning for the electronic power steering, springs, dampers, and bushings, Honda also upgraded the dampers. Replacing the magnetorheological dampers of old are new adaptive three-chamber units for each of the wheels. Speaking of, those wheels are now 20 inches instead of 19, wearing Continental ContiSportContact 6 tires.
When we drove the old European Type R both on the road and on the track, our main complaint was that the steering didn’t have much life or vibrancy to it. Honda hopes that will change with improved steering response and stability made possible by a 38 percent increase in torsional rigidity. Weight is down 35 pounds compared to the last generation, down to 3,012 pounds (15 lighter than the standard 2017 Civic Hatchback).
Very interesting, as well, is how Honda will position the Civic Type R in the U.S. When it hits the market in late spring this year, it will be priced in the mid-$30,000 range, likely just underneath rivals like the VW Golf R, Ford Focus RS, and Subaru WRX STI. However Honda isn’t one for options, and while the other usual suspects can easily be loaded up north of $40,000, the Type R will come fully equipped in Touring trim and offer nothing extra. Included are the Type R’s racy, red-trimmed front seats with lots of bolstering, a 7-inch touchscreen with nav and Apple/Android smartphone mirroring, and a 12-speaker audio system with satellite radio and Pandora capability. As before, the Type R’s interior is full of carbon-fiber detailing, a slick aluminum shift knob, and a sportier, more menacing instrument cluster design.
Soon we’ll be seeing the 2017 Honda Civic Type R on our shores, which is a pleasure of which we’ve long been deprived. Not only has the current 10th-gen Civic shown to be among the best in its class, but with the upcoming Si and now the Type R, it should be on just about every small-car shopping list. That it’ll be cheaper than its competition and offer a different, front-wheel drive experience will give enthusiasts in this space even more choice and variety than before. Welcome, welcome, Civic Type R.
2017 Honda Civic Type R Specifications
|ON SALE||Late spring|
|ENGINE||2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/306 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ @ 2,500-4,500 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD hatchback|
|L X W X H||TBD|
|0-60 MPH||5.4 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||167 mph (est)|