Both the Brits and the Japanese have always gotten first dibs when it comes to the highly-coveted Honda Civic Type-R (CTR). Instead of getting the same, American drivers got the shaft and were offered a de-tuned Si model and an Integra Type-R that was so limited it might as well have its own endangered species label. This treatment is kind of like getting to third base, realizing that you aren’t going to score, but you don’t want to complain because what you’ve got is better than nothing at all.
But with the turbocharged Honda Civic Type-R coming our way sometime in 2017, the hype behind its American arrival is about as fervid as a nest of rabid hornets, and for damn good reason: The car that set a world record for front-wheel drive vehicles around the Nürburgring, spanking all-wheel drive monsters like the mighty Nissan Skyline GT-R in the process, may be shaping up to offer even more power in order to compete with more powerful contenders.
Autoblog recently released a speculative piece that highlights some of the design cues of the 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder engine, and it raises some interesting questions. While the piece talks a little about the electric actuator on the wastegate, as well as a bypass valve integrated into the compressor housing, it is by no means a guarantee that Honda will recalibrate its hot hatch to show that the 306 horsepower motor is capable of more ferocity. But we’ll get to that topic momentarily — instead of relying on rumors, we went straight to the source and found some facts pertaining to the engine itself that only Honda can offer up.
Someone at a party recently asked me why Honda would want to make the CTR more extreme. While I am of the belief that 306 horsepower is more than enough for something so small, there is no getting around the fact that the clever little rocket ship is going to be going up against some seriously strong adversaries the minute it arrives. Since the car has to be remodeled to meet American standards anyways, perhaps it might be best to see what Honda Performance Development (HPD) can do.
While Ford is busy readying its Focus RS for American hot hatch extremism, companies are tinkering in preparation for a forced induction four-cylinder war that will be about as heated as it will be interesting. Out of the bunch, the Focus RS has the upper hand on paper in both the handling and power departments, as it is all-wheel drive and more powerful than its nearest competition. Autoblog’s article might be based primarily around speculations found on a Civic forum, but there is a lot there that is right on.
Honda says that variable and twin-scroll turbos have been omitted on the new CTR for “enhanced responses by VTC and VTEC,” instead employing a mono-scroll turbocharger that has lower inertia. Featuring similar responses one receives with twin-scroll turbochargers of the same size, this redesigned unit reveals higher output numbers across the powerband, and part of this is due to the use of that aforementioned electric wastegate. Combine that with direct fuel injection in a multi-stage, three tier pattern for better spray atomization, and you have a motor that has excellent combustion efficiency numbers, tons of twist, and can be re-tuned to offer even more power gains.
Looking to “carve a new history” with the aggression contained beneath the bonnet of its turbocharged Type-R, Honda admits that it “challenged the development of the turbo engine” by controlling the valve overlap amount for higher torque numbers, and in the process eliminated the turbo-lag petrolheads hate while bumping up fuel efficiency numbers. To complement these gains, combustion has also been recalibrated with the piston crown being completely reshaped to allow both better compression and longevity. But swapping in different pistons will only get Honda so far, and if the rumors are right, it will have to tweak the American model in quite a few more creative ways if it plans on giving its competition a true trouncing.
If Honda does indeed want to up the ante and make the CTR even more outrageous, it will have to capitalize upon a few turbocharged loopholes as well. While Honda could (and should) tinker with the turbo itself and the wastegate, looking toward the computer would be one of the first places to search for hidden ponies.
Engine tricks will only get the CTR so far, though. Because forced induction engines hate back-pressure, and the first thing the exhaust hits on this motor is a bottle-necked downpipe. It’s almost a given that Honda will be tuning the Type-R for better exhaust management, but without improved breathability, all of Honda’s engine tinkering will be for naught.
Outside of all the speculations and hopeful wishing, it’s worth noting that re-tuned or not, the Honda Civic Type-R is going to be an absolute animal to drive and enjoy. It already has more than enough ferocity for the average, performance-minded American enthusiast, and by mashing the “+R” button, drivers will receive an instantly remapped computer that responds with what Honda likes to call a “high-response style of motoring.” So you never know, America has some strange emissions requirements, and meeting NHTSA standards sometimes involves a moderate to severe redesign, and just maybe, with a bit of luck, Honda will add some extra oomph to the equation somewhere along the way.