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Honda revs up for ‘outstanding’ Civic Type R

Waiting game: Honda elected to bypass the current Civic Type R and wait for the tenth-gen version that will be in Australia before the end of 2017.

Manual-only Honda Civic Type R here by the end of 2017 to battle Ford’s Focus RS


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24 Aug 2016

HONDA’S still-unseen new-generation Civic Type R hot hatch is generating serious buzz ahead of its late 2017 launch in Australia where it will be pitched as a rival for Ford’s hardcore – and sold-out until next year – Focus RS.

Rumoured to be set for a Paris motor show reveal next month, the Civic Type R will sprint into Australian dealerships before the end of next year, following the arrival of the tenth-generation Civic hatch earlier in 2017.

Honda Australia elected to bypass the UK-sourced ninth-generation Type R hatch that was launched in Europe last year, preferring instead to wait for the all-new model as part of a “three-pronged” Civic strategy that started with the arrival of the sedan in May.

Despite the Type R still being more than a year away from a local launch, Honda Australia general manager of customer and communications Scott McGregor told journalists in Sydney this week that pre-launch interest in the hi-po hatch started ramping up years ago.

“We have had customers on social media and through dealerships for the last number of years,” he said. “As soon as there was discussion about the forthcoming Civic, there were obviously people thinking about what Type R might be, so we have had inquiries going back now a number of years.

“I am sure as soon as we are able to put the pre-registration site up, I very much expect that will go bananas as well.”

The Type R is expected to compete against hardcore hot hatches a level up from the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST, according to Mr McGregor.

“I think the performance will probably be superior to (Golf) GTI, I would expect. I haven’t seen any of the details myself yet but I would imagine it would be playing with Focus RS – in that kind of area. If you look at lap times of the current car, that is the area it would play in.”

The existing Type R recorded a blistering 7:50.63 lap at Germany’s famed Nurburgring in 2015, easily beating the previous front-wheel drive record of 7:54.36 set by the Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy-R.

The outgoing Type R is powered by a 228kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder VTEC turbocharged petrol engine, and can complete the zero to 100km/h sprint in just 5.6 seconds, which is off the pace of the Focus RS time of 4.7s but better than the Golf GTI time of 6.5s.

While some reports have suggested that the new Type R will use exactly the same underpinnings as the outgoing model but with a new body, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said the new version would be a step up from the Europe-only current model.

“I think it will be quite a substantial change,” he said. “We are not in a position to go into details, but performance-wise, it will be outstanding.

“Last time around we sold 2000 Type Rs. We have a huge following of Type R and we will bring the best Type R to market. When I say that, we really think this will deliver on all the sporty attributes that Type R is famous for. It will certainly be on sale next year and … it will be competitively priced of course.”

It is increasingly likely that the Type R will offered only with a manual gearbox in Australia, mirroring Ford’s strategy with its Focus RS.

“We haven’t confirmed specs or anything like that but that is the current discussion that is going on,” Mr McGregor said.

“I think our enthusiast base is crying out for a manual performance car, so I think in that particular segment, that is the configuration that is going to work really strongly for us.

“I don’t think it is going to necessarily impact the volumes we can do. I think if we went other way and only brought an auto in, I don’t think that would be acceptable to the marketplace either, so I think we are pretty comfortable that Type R is going to be the right package.”

Australia will miss out on the warmed-over Civic Si hatch that is positioned between the sporty looking RS and the Type R, with Mr McGregor confirming, “the configuration of the Si grade is not available outside of North America”.

Mr Collins said that while there were no plans for Honda to expand the Type R family beyond the Civic at this stage, he would be keen to see the badge on other models in the future.

“Type R is an iconic brand and an iconic name,” he said. “We don’t have any current plan to. But we could if it was available in something else.”

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