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Honda abandons Type R branding

R for rejected: Honda’s move to kill off Integra Type R comes after several years of controversy over the legitimacy of the current model.

Honda Australia walks away from Type R ultra-sports

16 Apr 2004

HONDA Australia will abandon the prestigious Type R ultra-sports branding later this year when it updates the Integra sports coupe range.

And despite repeated attempts over the past few years to expand its Type R model line-up, it does not plan any association with that branding in the future.

The end of Type R publicly signals a fundamental change in Honda Australia’s marketing attitude. While in the past it saw Type R as a way to inject "sizzle", it is now heading along a sports luxury path.

"There is no more Type R, that chapter in Honda Australia’s history is closed," Honda Australia director Lindsay Smalley told GoAuto exclusively.

"The direction of Honda is moving more towards sophisticated sports, away from that raw, more confronting type of sports car." Honda’s move to kill off Integra Type R comes after several years of controversy over the legitimacy of the current model.

Ironically, it will be replaced by a model called the Integra Type S, a designation critics argued the car should have had in the first place.

The Integra Type R first appeared in Australia as a hard-core hard-revving 1.8-litre between October 1999 and July 2001.

But when the new generation came along it was widely criticised for not matching up to the technical specifications of the Japanese Integra Type R.

That car has 162kW, 17-inch wheels, 215/45s rubber and four-piston calliper Brembo brakes.

The Australian model has 147kW, 16-inch wheels, 205/55 rubber and misses out on the Brembos.

The detuning of the engine was blamed on limited availability of 98 octane fuel in Australia, while cost and durability issues ruled out the more aggressive wheel, tyre and brake package.

Nevertheless, the car still rose in price by $4000 and an extra $2000 was charged for air-conditioning, a curious decision considering the base model $39,950 Integra had standard climate control.

The actual specification of the Australian Type R was closer to the US Acura RSX Type S when it was launched, hence the irony of the name change.

But the car that will appear in the last quarter of 2004 will more closely resemble a 200-off ‘Special Edition’ Integra sold in 2002 that featured extras like leather seats and door panels, side airbags (mounted in the front seat backs), electric sunroof, leather-clad steering wheel, full body kit, front foglights, driver and passenger map lights and appropriate badging.

A body kit comprised front and rear underbody spoilers, side sills and a more discreet spoiler than Type R.

That ‘Special Edition’ model later prompted Honda to introduce the Integra Luxury as a full-time member of the range.

But the forthcoming Type S is expected to have a power level close to the current Type R, rather than drop back to the standard and Luxury Integra’s 118kW version.

Honda Australia had tried to add the UK-built Civic Type R three-door to its range but that was killed off by exchange rates and the ongoing concern over fuel quality.

The change in emphasis may act as a sales spur for Integra. In 2003 there were 922 sold here, compared to 1342 the year before.

After three months of 2004, 168 sales have been logged, compared to 304 in the same period of 2003. Honda will launch sports-oriented people-mover, the third generation Odyssey, mid-year.

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