The closer the 2017 Honda Civic Type R is pushed to its outer limits, the sooner it becomes clear that this car is something special.
Dan Ilika writes: Hustle into a corner at, say, seven-tenths or more and there’s nary a hint of understeer, the sworn enemy of front-wheel drive. It’s the same story when mashing the accelerator at the apex, with torque steer virtually non-existent, the car pulling hard as it climbs through the gears.
So this is what all the hype’s been about.
Considering it was never sold here, the Civic Type R has garnered quite the reputation in this part of the world. For 20 years the hopped-up Honda has been both renowned and revered in North America, its red badge tantalizing a passionate enclave of enthusiasts. That makes this a moment that Honda fanboys and fangirls here have been waiting for in earnest. Judgement Day is here.
The significance of this new Civic Type R certainly isn’t lost on Honda. Past improprieties aside, the brand knows this car has to be good. Like, really good. After all, it doesn’t just have a reputation to maintain, but it’s also facing some pretty stiff competition for sport compact supremacy. Alongside the Volkswagen Golf R and Ford Focus RS, it completes a holy trinity of hot hatches that were each but a dream just a few short years ago. Add in the Subaru WRX STI for good measure, and this Super Civic is staring down quite the gauntlet.
From Mundane to Insane
Just like those cars, the Type R’s formula is as simple as it is maniacal. Start with a commuter car, replace all the important bits with stuff that’ll make it go faster, and sell it at a reasonable price. But to begin to realize what this new Type R is all about, it’s important to forget most of what you know about the Honda Civic hatchback. Yes, the Civic Type R is built on the five-door’s foundation; and yes, it’s fundamentally the same in size and stature. But just about everything in it and on it has been swapped out in the name of performance.
[ALSO SEE: 2017 Honda Civic Si Review]
Starting under the hood, a 2.0-liter turbo motor handles power generation, and does a damn fine job of it. The engine makes a stout 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, the latter of which comes online at 2,500 rpm and sticks around until 4,500 rpm. Paired to that powerplant is a Type R–exclusive six-speed manual gearbox, with a helical gear-style limited-slip differential in place to reduce wheel spin, and an active rev-matching system for those who struggle to heel and toe.
Both the engine and transmission are the same as what was in the last, Europe-only Civic Type R, though most of the internals in both have been beefed up this time around despite output remaining static. Elsewhere, the car gets entirely new underpinnings, including adaptive dampers at all four corners, bigger brakes, and thicker sway bars. Even the steering ratio has been changed compared to the standard Civic in an effort to improve the car’s responsiveness. Rounding out the changes is a drive mode selector that adjusts everything from steering and throttle response to the rev-matching system, adaptive dampers and stability management to amp up or tone down performance as required … (read more)