There are few hot hatches, other than the MK1 Golf GTI and Peugeot 205 GTI, that have captured the imagination quite like the Honda Civic Type R. Since the car was introduced in 1997, it has become a legend, commanding respect among car scenes around the world.
The first-generation Type R kick-started the Type R craze. Based on the EK9 chassis, this little beast had the highest power output of its capacity at the time. The 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine produced a solif 182 bhp, which is more than many hot hatches today. The second generation Type R, based on the EP3 chassis, is arguably the finest hot hatch of the past 15 years. Released in 2001 and produced until 2005, this car boasted a high-revving 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine that in European specification produced 200 bhp.
The fantastic thing about the Civic Type R is that it has always been a car best driven on the limit. To really get moving, you have to cane the accelerator and redline the engine. In a world fuelled with turbocharged diesels and petrol’s, the naturally aspirated guts of the Type R offer a natural driving experience and one that quite simply puts a smile on your face. The second-generation Type R was the last great model. When Honda released the third-gen version, based on the FD2 and FN2 chassis, it immediately fell afoul of reviewers. This car was fatter and heavier than the second-gen yet it only had 1 bhp more. It was a less involving driving experience and whilst the car was more practical and technologically capable, it lacked the sparkle of the older model.
Honda lost its mojo.
Now, though, it look as though they have it back and they have a chance to redeem themselves with the fourth generation Civic Type R that is slated for released at the end of this year or early-2015. The fourth-gen Type R will follow in the footsteps of other hot hatches like the Ford Focus ST, Vauxhall Astra GTC VXR, and Renault Megane RS. The Type R will have a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that will produce at least 276 bhp and over 230 lb /ft of torque – that’s considerably more than any other Type R produced.
Vertu Honda believe Honda is on the right track “Turbocharged petrol engines offer fantastic real-world appeal and are much more engaging than naturally aspirated one’s. There’s no denying the charm of an old school VTEC, but buyers need to bear in mind that this next-generation model will be more economical than ever before, much faster, but just as reliable.”