Future Models - Honda 2015 Civic
Honda promises blistering Civic Type-R
Say R: Honda is set to regain its sportscar mojo, with a new Civic Type-R and other hot models confirmed by the Japanese company.
Nurburgring-busting Civic Type-R promised by Honda chief in mass model roll-out
21 September 2012
HONDA today confirmed it will build a new-generation Civic Type-R that it promises will be the fastest front-wheel-drive car around the famed Nurburgring track in Germany.
The hottest Civic ever built is just one of several new models coming down the pipeline from the Japanese manufacturer over the next few years, with others including a baby SUV built on the new-generation Jazz platform due next year, an all-new Legend flagship with all-wheel-drive hybrid technology, a fuel-cell-powered production car by 2015 and even a mini open-top sportscar.
The grand plans were announced in a sweeping speech by Honda Motor Company CEO and president Takanobu Ito, who even promised global operation reform with overhauled vehicle development and production systems to ensure various products can be developed in up to six markets at once and brought to showrooms more quickly, with tweaks to suit local buyers.
The ambitious plans signal the start of a big push by Honda to recover the high ground in automotive technology while also regaining its sportscar mojo with new-generation vehicle such as the upcoming NSX.
Fans of the Civic Type-R will have to sit on their hands for a while, though, as Mr Ito said it would not arrive until 2015.
From top: Honda CEO and president Takanobu Ito; Current Honda Jazz and Legend; Honda NSX.
Honda Australia public relations manager Melissa Cross told GoAuto that the Type-R was only confirmed for Europe, but added: “It’s on the wish list.”
The previous British-made Civic Type-R was killed off because its high-revving 148kW four-cylinder engine could not meet Euro 5 emissions regulations in Europe.
Mr Ito said the Civic Type-R was being restored to the range “to fulfill customer expectations”.
“With the application of technologies which will be cultivated through participation in WTCC (World Touring Car Championship) starting this year, the all-new Civic Type-R is being developed with the goal of becoming the fastest front-wheel drive vehicle on the Nurburgring race course,” he said.
The current record for a production front-drive production car is claimed by Renault for its Megane RS265 which is said to have lapped the famed ‘Ring Nordschleife in just 8:08 minutes with Renault development driver Laurent Hurgon at the wheel in June last year.
No Civic Type-R powertrain or performance figures were given by Mr Ito, and although he indicated the vehicle would be designed for Europe, he did not say where it would be built.
One vehicle that is expected to have a major impact on Honda Australia sales was also confirmed in Mr Ito’s mid-term speech: a new mini SUV.
To be based on the same all-new platform as the 2013 Jazz hatch (called Fit in other markets) and City sedan, the SUV is an almost certain starter for Australia.
Ms Cross told GoAuto that as the small SUV market was the fastest growing market segment in Australia, and therefore it would suit the Honda line-up.
Sitting below the CR-V medium SUV that is about to get a total overhaul later this year, the unnamed light SUV will most likely be built for Australia in Thailand, alongside the Jazz and City.
This new-generation Honda light car range – set to be progressively rolled out over two years, starting in 2013 – is the first to be developed under Honda’s new model development system that will allow regions to more easily customise models for local tastes and needs while also bringing them in parallel with big markets such as Japan and the US.
Mr Ito described this as “concurrent development by all six regions”.
“Honda is fully committed to maximise the joy of customers in each region,” he said.
Mr Ito also committed Honda to opening a new plant in Mexico in 2014 to build Jazz-based cars “including a new derivative”, and a revamp of its existing Sayama plant in Japan so it could built up to 10 models at once.
In Asia, the budget Brio hatch range will be expanded with sedan and “utility-type” variants, while at the other end of the scale, a successor to the current Legend to be built in Japan from 2014.
The latter will get a high-output three-motor hybrid drivetrain – called Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive – that “realises both a high level of sporty handling and fuel economy”.
The same powertrain will be applied to the new NSW and Acura RLX Sport Hybrid – the American equivalent of the Legend.
Mr Ito annunced that the all-new Acura RLX will be shown at this year’s Los Angeles motor show in November, and that it would get a new handling technology called Precision All Wheel Steer.
Honda pioneered four-wheel steering in its Prelude sports coupe in the 1980s.
Three hybrid powertrains will be offered by Honda to suit cars of various sizes, starting at the lower end with a new one-motor system that promises greater electric driving range in smaller vehicles.
“Honda will strive to achieve number one fuel economy among all hybrid vehicles by improving the efficiency of regenerative energy recovery,” Mr Ito said.
The plug-in two-motor hybrid system for mid-sized car will make it debut in the new Accord, while the three-motor system will be applied to flagship models.
Mr Ito promised Honda’s first series production fuel-cell-powered vehicle from 2015, saying it would be introduced “sequentially” in Japan, the US and Europe.
“This new fuel-cell vehicle will showcase further technological advancement and significant cost reduction that Honda has accomplished,” he said.
While announcing new green-technology vehicles, Mr Ito said Honda would not ignore the excitement factor, promising “dream-inspiring and edgy products”.
As an example, he said Honda would introduce a new open-top sportscar “with strong vehicle dynamics” to go on sale in Japan in 2014.
Mr Ito said this sportscar would be one of a family of six new mini vehicles, which indicates the new baby drop-top is a spiritual successor to the Honda Beat that was a cult car in Japan.
Like the Beat, this sports car might not make it into Australia unless it can meet all local design rules and ANCAP safety ratings.