The 2018 Honda Civic Type R hatch will be offered solely with a six-speed manual transmission because an auto would have mucked up the weight balance of the car.
Matsumochi admitted that the brand looked into a solution to appeal to a broader range of buyers – either with a conventional automatic, or a dual-clutch transmission – but the impact would have been too great on the car’s dynamism.
“We produce just the six-speed manual transmission only for the Type R, because our powertrain has achieved 400Nm and 320 or 310PS – so, big performance,” Matsumochi said.
“The Type R needs a lightweight powertrain because it is front-wheel-drive, and needs lightweight powertrain systems. So, the engine is a little bit heavy, so the transmission side needs to be more lightweight,” he said.
“If we applied an automatic transmission, or dual-clutch transmission, for a 400Nm engine, it would be very heavy weight, and very big. The front weight would be very heavy.”
As it stands, the new generation Civic isn’t perfectly balanced: it is front-wheel drive, after all, and has a distribution of 62.5 per cent of the body weight at the front axle and 37.5 per cent at the rear – which is still an improvement over the existing car, which had 65:35 weight distribution.
The numbers would have been skewed further if an automatic were to be offered, and that’s the reason Honda went solely with a six-speed manual.
However, Matsumochi said he knows that while manual gearboxes can be fun, they can also be daunting to drive on a racetrack. But the company’s new rev-matching system on the Type R is designed to offset those concerns.
“Then we decided just on the six-speed manual – and the gearbox is very fun to drive. Easy to drive, however sometimes it’s difficult to control shift timing for sporty performance, so then we applied the rev-match system,” he said of the mechanism that senses when you’re slowing down and preparing to downshift, blipping the throttle to maintain engine speed.
“It’s so easy and so smooth – so everyone has a special experience to drive the car.”