March 6, 2006 With a level of success way beyond Honda's initial expectations, the Civic Type R which ended production last year proved a smash hit among those seeking the thrills of a sporty, high performance car, yet still delivering a strong dose of practicality at an affordable price. That dual personality thrilled over 35,000 customers, far exceeding Honda’s initial sales forecasts during its relatively short production run. The bold styling of the Civic Type R Concept unveiled at Geneva last week provides a clear indication of how the final production car will appear. Honda engineers have designed a 'superhatch' to deliver blistering performance (200 bhp). The aggressive, lower and wider-looking body encases a new 2.0 litre DOHC i-VTEC engine and the model, built in Britain, will go on sale in early 2007 priced around UKP18,000. Expect to see more 3 door versions at the London Motor Show in July.
The Type R name was introduced by Honda Motorcycles, where the letter R was added to conventional bike names to indicate a performance derivative. For example, the CB – a standard 4-cylinder across-the-frame bike – became the CB-R, a sporting model. One of the earliest Type R cars was the Honda NSX-R, a stripped-down, lightweight version of the NSX supercar. This was developed in response to claims the NSX did not have enough power to compete with rival cars from Porsche and Ferrari. The key factor in this argument – and a point proved by the NSX-R – was the importance of the power to weight ratio. The NSX-R epitomised Honda’s approach to creating high performance cars, and every subsequent Type R vehicle has been built to conform to certain principles. Each follows the Type R philosophy.
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The Type R philosophy is not about building the most powerful, or fastest car in the world. It is about creating a car that provides a well-engineered, but exciting driving experience. To offer this, every Type R needs to have certain key characteristics:
- An exhilarating driving experience similar to that felt when piloting a racing car.
High levels of feedback and involvement in terms of sound, steering response and handling. The driver should feel part of the machine. Not just speed
Going fast is part of the Type R experience, but not everything. The Type R should have above average levels of performance in gear change quality, braking, steering and handling.
The driving experience should not be diluted or interfered with by driving aids or sound proofing that could detract from the driver’s involvement.
A Type R is not equipped with luxuries such as satellite navigation, hands-free telephones or leather upholstery. It should look and feel like a racing car.
To meet the aims set by the philosophy, a different approach is taken during the design and development of a Type R. Therefore, each car possesses a special set of engineering qualities.
No bolting on of a turbocharger to give silly power figures. All Type R engines are normally-aspirated, which deliver smoother power delivery throughout the rev range, allowing power to be transferred through the chassis more easily, improving traction and acceleration.
A stiffer chassis improves the handling of the car in terms of balance and adjustability. This makes for a more involving drive.
No traction control, stability control or four-wheel drive. Or indeed any other driver aids that can distance the driver from the experience. Instead, a Type R is based on clever, but simple engineering solutions rather than electronic gadgetry.
Type R time-line
February 1992: NSX-R introduced. Weight is reduced by 120kg. Recaro seats and MOMO steering wheel fitted. Stiffer suspension adopted. Production limited to 1995 units.
September 1995: Honda announces the launch of the DC2 Integra Type-R. The Integra Type-R is powered by the B18C 1.8-litre DOHC VTEC engine, specifically developed for the Integra Type-R, with 200bhp at 8,000rpm. Standard equipment includes a helical LSD, sports suspension, a front lip spoiler, a rear spoiler, alloy wheels, a leather wrapped MOMO steering wheel, Recaro seats, and a titanium shift knob.
August 1997: The EK9 Civic Type-R is launched in Japan. It is powered by an exclusively-developed 1.6-litre DOHC VTEC B16B engine that makes 185bhp at 8,200rpm. The lightweight B16B engine features a new valve system allowing higher engine speeds, reduced engine friction, improved breathing, and increased compression ratio. Main features of handling include increased body rigidity, reduced weight, sports suspension, torquesensitive helical LSD, sports-tuned ABS, and Bridgestone Potenza RE010 tyres.
Jan 1998: The Accord Type-R goes on sale in the UK, with a tweaked version of the H22A engine on board. In addition, the Accord Type-R boasts a limited-slip-diff, Recaro seats and a stiffer chassis.
July 2001: An updated version of the Integra Type-R (DC5) is launched for sale in Japan and USA. The special colour of Championship White celebrates Honda’s first victory in F1. The DC5 Integra Type-R is powered by the K20A 2.0-litre DOHC i-VTEC engine with 220bhp and a new 6-speed manual gearbox. The suspension adopts clever front suspension and reactive-link double wishbone rear suspension. The Integra Type-R is also equipped with Recaro front seats, a leather wrapped MOMO steering wheel, aluminium pedals, aluminium shift knob, exclusive aero parts and Brembo front brakes.
October 2001: A Type-R version of the 7th generation Civic is announced. It is built at Honda in the UK Manufacturing in Swindon, Wiltshire. The CTR – as it becomes known by enthusiasts – is powered by a 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine that produces 197bhp. The Civic Type-R goes on to sell over 35,000 units and pick up numerous Hot Hatch of the Year awards.
February 2006: An all-new Civic Type R, based on a three-door version of the 2006 Civic is unveiled at Geneva Motor Show.View gallery - 26 images