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Civic Type R heralds return to sporty Honda vehicles

NSXpensive: Although the reborn Honda NSX launched last year, the Lamborghini Huracan-rivalling $420,000 before on-roads sticker price has kept sales to less than a handful over a 13 month period.

Honda Civic Type R to inject excitement back into the brand after ‘boring period’

Honda logo13 Oct 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

HONDA’s new Civic Type R will act as the precursor to more sporty models and hot variants in a bid to bring excitement back to the brand after the discontinuation of models such as the S2000 and Integra around the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2007.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the new hero hatchback, Honda Australia managing director and CEO Hiroyuki Shimizu said the return of the Type R badge to Australian showrooms proclaims Honda’s intentions to bring a dynamic edge back to the brand after a “boring period”.

“The company itself is going back into this direction,” he said, “As you can see there was a time when – maybe I should not say – but it was kind of a boring period.

“But we’ve come up with and committed with this Civic to really come back to what we were, and as you will see from now on, the line-up will be in this direction, so please look forward to this.

“We had that moment … from the GFC and everything, there were all kinds of things going on, but our direction is to keep the spirit and come back to Honda.”

Mr Shimizu would not be drawn on which models were next considered for the Type R treatment, but a hot Jazz light hatchback could take on the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST, Volkswagen Polo GTI and incoming Suzuki Swift Sport.

However, it is also possible Honda is planning a red-badged HR-V or CR-V SUV to break new ground in the performance crossover segment.

Currently, only premium European car-makers offer hot SUVs in the Australian market, including the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45, Audi RS Q3 and SQ5, Mini Countryman JCW, and soon-to-be-released BMW X3 M40i.

Although Mr Shimizu said he was unaware of any Type R SUV plans, he said it was vital for Honda to listen to the demands of the market.

“We have to go where the demand is, but with some kind of taste different from others,” he said.

“Diversification is going on very, very quickly, not only here but around the world. Of course there are priorities and of course you see the market is drifting towards the SUV segment –which is the same kind of trend that Japan had.”

Mr Shimizu warned however, that Honda would not relentlessly pursue sportier models at the cost of its core passenger car line-up.

“So there are all kinds of needs … we need that motivation and inspiration in some cars, but some could be for old people, there’s people who have families as well so it doesn’t have to be everything,” he said.

While the NSX halo car was released last year wearing a hefty $420,000 before on-roads pricetag to lift the company’s image and inject a level of desirability into its line-up, Mr Shimizu said the more attainable $50,990 Civic Type R will also boost the brand in a big way.

“One big job was to bring it (NSX) here,” he said. “It’s here and we will build up the brand starting with the halo model, which is NSX and now with Type R.

“Type R will help more, but NSX is a real halo car, it’s not a car we want to sell tonnes of.”

Honda Australia has secured around 1000 units of the Civic Type R over the next 12 months, with about a third of allocation already accounted for by eager customers who pre-ordered the new Japanese hero hatchback.

For comparison, the NSX hybrid supercar that landed on Australian shores in August last year has since amassed only three registrations.

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