Speaking to CarAdvice at the unveiling of the new Honda Civic RallyCross race car, Honda America’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Jeff Conrad, admitted that Honda had gone through some troubled times of late.
But, Conrad said, the tenth-generation civic marks a new era for the manufacturer.
“When we came through the recession, we came through flooding in Thailand, the tsunami… we had a lot of challenges,” Conrad told CarAdvice.
“When that happens, you have to retrench and you tend to get a little conservative, frankly. Well, now it’s a different market and we looked and we said we don’t like that retrenchment mode, we like fun, we like excitement, we like performance.
"And so when our engineering team got the assignment to develop the tenth-generation civic, they made a concerted effort to get back to the basic roots of what Civic stood for and what the Honda brand stood for, which is to be a sporty car.”
Conrad’s comments should appease Honda sports car fans of old, who have waited almost a decade for the Japanese brand to find its way again.
“If you go around our company, you will find people who are not only car enthusiasts, but motorcycle enthusiasts or outdoor enthusiasts," Conrad said.
"When we designed this car, we all wanted to get back to the roots of the civic, which was performance, we think it’s the absolute perfect expression that this new generation represents.”
Honda’s sporty revitalisation project has been years in the making, with the company having entered Formula One last year (with years of preparation before hand) and announcing its entry into the world RallyCross championship today.
Honda now competes in more top-level racing series than any other manufacturer.
“We have more involvement in racing than any other company out there, and each of those designs can reach out to a particular group of people that are interested in performance," Conrad said.
“There is a lot of people out there that when they are looking at a Honda, where does that image or branding come from? We know that we love racing and we know that our cars perform and we put them in a race environment so people can see what the cars can do. It pays dividends with our brand."
Speaking about the upcoming Honda Civic Type R, which will hit Australian shores in the second half of 2017 - around six months after the NSX Supercar - Conrad said it’s an indicator of where Honda will go in the future.
“It’s a car that I’d say is in line with our DNA, it will cast a performance halo over all of our products," he said.
Nonetheless, there was no comment on whether Honda will apply the Type-R badge to any other model.
For now, the return of the S2000, Prelude and Integra appear to be some time away.