The current Honda Civic Type-R may not launch in Australia after all, despite the company’s local arm remaining steadfast in its desire to find a way to make it happen.
Now on sale in Europe after being hyped since late 2013, the hardcore 231kW/400Nm Honda hero hot hatch is the subject of huge demand and limited production capacity at the UK plant that builds them, hindering the wider rollout beyond Europe.
As a result, despite Honda Australia’s continued keen desire to get the car here, it might not be feasible to secure supply until 2017. And that’s where it gets convoluted.
That’s because the new-look, new-generation Civic range (the regular, non-Type-R models, we mean) will arrive on our shores from about July 2016, starting with the sedan and followed a few months later by the hatch.
This time, both body styles will probably be sourced from Thailand to make them more affordable, and therefore viable, in the cluttered small-car segment. The present hatch comes from the UK only, driving up prices.
The relatively imminent arrival of the tenth-generation Civic family comes sooner than generally expected, because Honda globally — led by the US — has short-cycled the current Mk9 models, which only arrived here in 2012.
Honda Australia director Stephen Collins this week told us that he was “still confident we’ll have it [Type-R], it’s just a case of when,” but conceded that if he couldn’t get supply before the regular new-shape (non Type-R) hatch arrives in late 2016, it would very potentially be off the cards entirely.
The obvious issue here is, would Honda Australia sell what would by then be a previous-generation Civic in Type-R guise once regular versions of the new-shape model had arrived? It’s understood that Honda Australia would want to offer the Type-R for a sustained period, rather a few-month run.
Furthermore, will the Swindon, UK, plant that makes all Type-Rs (we doubt Thailand will make any) even be making the current Type-R in 2017? The issue is when the Honda UK plant switches over to the new-shape regular model.
That could occur as soon as next year but is more likely to happen in 2017 based on reports out of Europe. If this heralds the end of current Type-R production as you'd expect, it would give Honda's present hardcore hatch a potential global model cycle of about two years.
Further clouding matters is the fact that we understand the next-generation Type-R model is due around 2018 and is well into development. The company won’t be as tardy this time. You can bet your bootstraps that this version will absolutely come to Australia, given its projected launch globally is more conventional. But that's some time away for all those performance Honda fans.
In short, it all means the current Type-R, launched in Europe only very recently, might be a short-lived option that is ruled out for the local market due to simple timing factors.
“We’re still working through the timing,” Collins said, though added there was “no question” that such a car was badly needed.