More than any of its predecessors, Honda’s FK8 Civic Type R is the result wider product strategy that seems to only just begin one the initial where before it was one flagship to rule them all. To put it simply, there will be more derivatives to come.
If a quote grabbed by Automotive News at the first-ever North American launch of the car from the chief engineer for the Civic model range, Hideki Matsumoto, proves true, work on a broader range of Type R’s is in its latter stages of gestation: “We’re hoping that by gradually putting out more [variants] that we’ll be able to maintain a more stable sales volume,” he said.
At least two initial variants of the standard Civic Type R appear to be in the works, the first being a rather obvious but much anticipated track-focused, lightweight version, possibly even with the addition of all-wheel drive and opening the car to a much higher tier of potential performance as more power can be thrown at the tyres while maintaining high levels of traction.
Right now, the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine in the ‘standard’ Civic Type R produces 235kW and 400Nm, already making it one of the most highly-stressed passenger car motors relative to its displacement. However, Mercedes-AMG are reported to be ready to introduce a new A45 mega match with around 300kW from an updated 2.0-litre four-pot of their own. Of course it can be done, it’s just a matter of reliability.
While a more powerful engine, lighter weight, and possible all-wheel drive will of course make the Civic a more appropriate rival to cars like the Volkswagen Golf R, Ford Focus RS, or even the Subaru WRX STi, Honda is also experimenting with a version of their Type R that focuses on the opposite end of the spectrum.
This would mean a more comfortable, liveable, more civilised variant with potentially less power. As Matsumoto phrased it, the car would be “focused more on the grand touring aspect”. This will likely translate into a car that sports more subdued styling cues, less aero, and the addition of an automatic transmission.
If we were to liken this approach to cars that are currently available, its easy to see the parallels between the likes of Ford (Focus ST/RS) and Volkswagen (Golf GTI/GTE/R). Also interesting is the possible broadening appeal of the next Megane Renault Sport which will feature adaptive dampers, all-wheel steering, and….wait for it….a dual-clutch automatic transmission.