Honda’s long-awaited hot hatch, the first Type R version sold here since 2011, is being touted as a massive return to form for a brand that admits it has been rather beige and listless of late.
Given the healthy state of Australia’s hot hatch market — the Focus RS has waiting lists, and the much more expensive Mercedes-AMG A45 has greater market penetration here than anywhere globally — Honda’s local arm naturally expects big things.
Since a nearly production-ready concept Type R premiered at September’s Paris motor show (the car pictured in this story), Honda Australia says it has taken firm orders, and seen its social media and public website pages get huge clicks.
Full details for the UK-made 2017 Civic Type R aren’t known yet, though sources close to the Type R’s UK development hub suggest it will use a reworked version of the outgoing model’s (never sold here) 230kW/400Nm tuned to around 250kW and 450Nm.
Despite this power hike, our Honda source suggests it’ll remain a front-wheel-drive (FWD) proposition, unlike the less powerful Golf R, slightly more powerful Focus RS, and even punchier Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45, all of which are all-wheel-drive (AWD).
Expect a 0-100km/h sprint time in the low five-second range, compared to the current car’s 5.7-second time. The current version also has a top speed of 270km/h, which you’d imagine would carry over or moderately increase.
Furthermore, expect Honda to exclusively offer a six-speed manual gearbox, which it views as the purist's choice, and to use much of the outgoing Type R’s mechanicals, such as a reworked LSD. A Nurburgring front-drive record is expected, meaning Honda will be gunning for the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport.
Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said the company was expecting strong interest and decent volume of up to 200 units per month, pointing to acceptable pricing (Collins said around $50k, between a FWD Golf GTI Performance and the Golf R).
“We don’t want it to be a fringe car where you don’t ever see one, though it’ll depend on the price of course,” he said. “…We just want to get the car to market, get it out there, I want to drive one as my daily car!”
“There's a group of people just hanging on this car coming,” he said separately. “I know a number of our dealers are holding orders, we’ve basically said ‘don’t officially take orders until we confirm full details’.
“But there’s huge interest among enthusiasts who know Type R, we expect that to gain momentum ahead of the third-quarter launch… there are definitely the diehards who’ve had or wanted to have a Type R previously, but then there’s also the conquest-type buyers who just want the hottest hatch in the market and it’s our goal to deliver that.”
Pictured: Outgoing 2016 Honda Civic Type-R cabin
As we reported recently, disguised versions of the production Civic Type R have already been snapped undergoing testing in Australia, though this operation was conducted by Honda R&D in Japan without Honda Australia input.
The return of the Civic Type R for Honda Australia is no doubt exciting, though it will still lack a mainstream, $40k hot hatch with an auto to rival the Golf GTI or 2018 Renault Megane RS, as well as the imminent 2017 Hyundai i30 SR.
That said, Collins said the regular Civic hatch due to launch around February next year would have a RS derivative with a 127kW/220Nm 1.5-litre turbo engine, though attached to a CVT. It’s something…
The RS has been the top-selling variant in the new Civic sedan range since launch, and has been popular with 25-40-year-old buyers.
Are you excited for the 2017 Honda Civic Type-R? Tell us in the comments.