Paris Motor Show: 2017 Honda Civic Type R

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So the very-close-to-production prototype of the Honda Civic Type R was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show last week. And, from what Honda has told us, it’s actually coming to the US this time. There’s absolutely no doubt that the the car is going to be supernaturally competent at defying the laws of physics, but is it worthy of the Type R name?

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Let’s get the specifics out of the way first. This thing is going to have something like 340 horsepower bursting from its 2.0-liter engine, a figure obliterating and dancing on the grave of the 276-horsepower gentleman’s agreement that ruled all Japanese cars, even the almighty NSX, when the orignal EK9 Civic Type R was introduced in 1997.

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But what does this new Type R really represent for Honda? The original Type Rs are the ultimate manifestation of Honda’s take on sports car and sports driving. It was pure and mechanically elegant and simple. Its FWD-ness seemed at odds with that mission but it was the layout that Honda for decades had stubbornly stuck to, some say even perfected. It was all very uniquely Honda, something nobody else could’ve done. And the results were amazing.

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The newest Civic Type R, like Honda’s other current cars, is probably extremely good but ultimately not that unique. They’ve become followers of other carmakers and market trends, whereas they used to set their own rules. Plus, just look at it. The original Civic Type R could be easily mistaken for a regular, grocery-getting Civic to the untrained eye. Upon receiving these photos, our editor-in-chief Ben Hsu’s first reaction was, “It looks like Optimus Prime fucked the Batmobile.”

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Perhaps a less cynical way of looking at it is that Honda has built it to sell to an existing and established base. It’ll be much more competitive against something like the Focus RS and French pocket rockets than a faithful reinterpretation of the original Civic Type R.

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As our editor-at-large Ricky Silverio, who favors the tuning aspect of Japanese cars, puts it:

It’s a progressive evolution of the Type R lineage, but there are many other cars of this type in the marketplace so it has to be compared with them first. The original Type Rs were miles ahead of and revolutionary for their time. In the segment the Civic Type R is now trying to occupy, AWD is the name of the game.

Now that there are platforms with turbocharging and AWD that have taken off, the new Civic Type R must compete and outshine the likes of those cars or it will just be another also-ran choice for the enthusiast.

One could also say that what’s neat about this new Civic Type R is that it harkens back to performance specials in Japan with a lot of cool gimmicky motorsport otaku-friendly doodads. Think Suzuki Alto Works or the DeTomaso-tuned Daihatsu Charade.

That is what sold the original Type Rs — not the design but their guts. The interchangeability was a factor too, but the cars’ simple, well-thought-out but very noticeable upgrades made a world of difference.

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Like the new NSX, the Civic Type R is not really a Japanese product. It’s designed and built in the UK, and is what a Brit’s idea of a Japanese hot hatch should be. Similarly, the NSX is what an American’s idea of what a Japanese supercar should be. Honda has identified its biggest markets for these respective cars, and let the local influence soak in. For marketing people, it’s probably brilliant.

However, what’s missing about it to me is the mechanical sophistication and purity of Honda’s ideals. It might be sophisticated technically, but it’s also the equivalent of strapping on a bunch of rockets to a go kart. If that’s your thing, the Civic Type R should arrive in the US in fall of 2017, according to Honda USA officials we’ve spoken to.

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21 Responses to Paris Motor Show: 2017 Honda Civic Type R

  1. 02Anders said:

    Mankinds obsession with always out-doing the previous product, and not least the oppositions product, seems to be blinding us and sadly removing us from all that is pure.
    This is just another perfect example of just that.

    It’s buttugly!! And dare I say it… in the modern world of ultimate hot hatches, it’s bland!!
    That’s the estetics.
    Technically it’s obviously got all the latest tricks, yet here too the Type R has now lost its way. It’s no longer uniquely Honda. It’s no longer pure and undiluted.

    Sometimes less really is more…

    • DallasD said:

      Fully and sadly agreed. This Type-R is clearly a product of its time, and I’m sure that I won’t want one. Sports cars aren’t really about raw numbers, contrary to mass-market beliefs. There’s always the 1st gen NSX, a new Miata, or the BRZ.

      • DallasD said:

        I should add that I despise each and every electronic assistant in my B8.5 Audi S5 and A4. I really miss my BB6 Prelude, and will return to purity ASAP.

  2. SHC said:

    I’ll reserve final judgment till i’ve actually seen and driven it.

  3. Nigel said:

    Hopefully the production model won’t have 20 inch wheels. As a former Honda driver I want the R to be good.

  4. Jim Daniels said:

    Can I get mine with two doors?

  5. daniel said:

    something like the Honda Project 2&4 concept perhaps???
    pure function in the design, It is apparently no more than it really is, but not go unnoticed.

    it tries to draw attention, considering racing focus rs and other hot hatches on the market will not have it easy.
    honda lost a big time, competitors took advantage to win the imagination of the consumer.

  6. G.M said:

    If you remove the Honda badges, this looks just like the new STi sedan.

  7. Ant said:

    I’ve spent a decent amount of time driving the current Type R and it’s pretty good fun – and very fast. Given this new Civic generation is longer, lower, wider and lighter, I have high hopes for this one.

    Less sure of the styling, but I don’t think the textured wrap helps. Let’s see it in a proper Type R colour – red, championship white – before springing to judgement. Incidentally, these are some of the best photos I’ve seen of the concept – that black wrap and sitting the car on a white platform made it a real git to photograph…

    • Ant said:

      And one niggle with the text above – the new Civic is indeed built in the UK, but its designer is very much Japanese, a chap by the name of Daisuke Tsutamori. The new car does have a European influence, but if you could avoid blaming the Brits entirely for this one…

  8. Dave said:

    At this point, it seems futile to rage against fake intakes and vents. But could we at least get a gentlemen’s agreement to require that more than 50% of a car’s vents be functional?

  9. Yoda said:

    In a more normal color with silver wheels and a spoiler delete, with a sufficient number of gen10 Civics to blend in against, it could bring the sleeper factor that’s part of the appeal of a fast four-door. But the show car sure looks “Fast and Furious”.

  10. When i see this (and the few last gen civics we got in europe) i’m really happy i’m an owner of an original EK9. To me the last “real” Civic ever made. After that came the UK-made EP3 and a variety of spaceship-civics for various markets. I Applaude to Honda to make the step into more efficient Motors by turbocharging it, but that’s all. Istead of beeing a civil-looking hot hatch like a Golf R or something, it Looks like a 16 year old Boys wet dream with all these vents and stuff. No doubt it will be fast but for me this Looks more like a take on the impreza than what civic stoud for, design-wise. I miss the time when Honda built simple but brilliant cars. I love the fact that my EK9 Looks like a normal hatch from the outside to a non-trained eye, but is fast as hell around the Corner. But i would definitly be ashamed driving around this with all these bells and whistles 🙂

  11. Punto8 said:

    I generally judge a car not by the most well equipped and powerful version as see above but the most stripped down version in its purist form. I seriously doubt anyone in this forum can say the new Civic base model is cool looking or even sporty. Quite honestly Honda it looks like s$&t. If you slapped a Accord badge on it then I could see why it looks so weird and clunky. The age of the drivers SI & Type R Civic/Integra is over folks and in their place we have these “car” things. I mean the “thing” they call a “hatch” on the Honda website is what we used to call a wagon in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. My opinion really doesn’t matter because they never had my dollar but damn…it’s all starting to look like busy nonfunctional Korean design to me. I’ll just keep buying Vintage cars that are either quicker, more economical or better looking.

    • Randy said:

      Don’t forget REPAIRABLE, if something goes wrong!

      It’s not inconceivable that if the radio quits, the entire cluster thing would have to be replaced – requiring the whole dashboard to be removed – to the tune of about 3,000-whatever-your-monetary-unit-is ($, Pounds, Euros, etc.).

      At least you can be sure the dealer would get all the pieces back together as per factory! 😉

  12. Randy said:

    Okay, so I had to look that up for history, since it’s before the time I was paying much attention to J-cars… Now that THAT’S out of the way:

    Is it possible that it became a victim of it’s own success? Others copied the concept, so as it evolved, it had to become less unique?

    I agree about it preferring it to be a sleeper, and anyone who was around for the idx period knows what I think about the wheel/tire combo. Looks like 18s would be doable; MAYBE 16s.

    I’m with Dave about the 50% of vents comment.

    On a g-search, Time of India has a pic of a red one. The “brushed-metal” wrap is good for the show cars, but at least there ARE pix of what you’ll be able to see in the showroom.

    Would be nice to have the trim level available on ALL body styles. Given my druthers, I’d do a 2-door, and history tells me that in the U.S., the 5-door hasn’t been a huge seller. Being mostly driveline and suspension tweaks, I don’t see why they couldn’t appeal to the full ranger of shoppers.

    I’m not saying I WOULD’T buy it; I’m saying it wouldn’t be a slam dunk.

    So let’s just throw THIS out there: Howzabout throw THAT driveline into an Accord? Hmmmmm…

    • Ant said:

      I think you’re onto something Randy. While it’d be lovely for Honda to buck the trends with a naturally-aspirated engine, or a significantly lighter and smaller body, or virtually no stylistic bells and whistles, I fear the reality is that it simply wouldn’t sell in sufficient numbers in the modern market.

      I do think the greater problem isn’t this car’s mechanical make-up though, but the styling. It really is a little OTT, and Honda does appear to be in a rough patch for styling right now.

      For me the sweet spot for more recent Hondas has been the CR-Z. I know it has its fair share of critics (either not economical enough or not fast enough, depending on who you speak to) but I spent a week with one a few years ago and really enjoyed it. It felt light, nimble, simple, compact, and mechanically advanced – all proper Honda qualities. And I still like the way it looks both inside and out – Honda’s designs since haven’t been as coherent.

      • Punto8 said:

        I agree. The CRZ is probably the closest interpretation of classic Honda design. Honda’s didn’t become popular off the top of the line models. They attained their reputation on the back of their reliable, peppy and economical trim levels in models like the base CRX, Civic, Del Sol, Accord etc.

        • Randy said:

          . . . And it’s apparently going bye-bye with the end of 2016…

          Shoulda just made it a “New CR-X,” without all the hybrid this, and e-that, etc. Civic drivelines, lots of possibilities for tuning the suspension, and enough space to upgrade wheel/tire combos…

          Matter of fact, wasn’t the original really just a chopped-down Civic? Doesn’t seem all that difficult.

  13. dcoultis said:

    It seems like this car is creating a lot of buzz considering all of the comments on this thread. Honda is doing something right if they are attracting a lot of attention with this car!

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